What do toothpaste and Febreze have in common? Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business explains the most intimate part of ourselves: our routines and habits. As human beings, we lean on our habits to get through the challenging —and mundane— parts of life. Our habitual routines mold our lives and shape the way we perceive the world around us.
The Power of Habit does this and more. This book is a convincing look at life’s intimate habits. He connects seemingly odd behaviors—like toothbrushing and Febreze usage—and describes how our daily routines make or break us.
First, I’ll share a summary, what I liked, and what I didn’t like.
The Power of Habit talks about how people can change their habits. He begins with an illuminating account of a lady who changed her whole life by quitting smoking (more on that later). Smoking was her base habit that shaped the rest of her person.
The highlights of the book come from the individual and systems approach to habits. For example, how do companies use personal habits to market to their buyers? In the middle of the book, it explains that particular habit with a stark real-life story of a teenage girl and Target.
Believe it or not, Febreze and toothpaste have something in common. It’s our habits that we tap into when we use these products, argues Duhigg.
Over and over again, the book explains how our habits shape our lives. Finally, the book rounds out the book with the Montgomery bus boycott and the Saddleback Church. Again, these are great examples of human habits in action.
What I liked
The Power of Habit is the second book I have read from Duhigg, and it didn’t disappoint. Duhigg has a knack for relating a study to his audience. Case in point, the beginning of the book talks about a couple of case studies about memory loss. I didn’t have to strain through the details about the studies to know how these cases related to habits.
I thought The Power of Habit was relatable. At the beginning of the book, it explains the account of a woman who changed her life by quitting smoking. By quitting smoking, she was able to change other habits in her life. It was a hopeful story for the audience to remember. We all can change despite our circumstances in life.
The Power of Habit cites several reputable studies in his book. Even though The Power of Habit is a popular eye-grabber, it does have some good science in it. Sometimes, it was a little over my head, but I didn’t get lost in the details. I think if I had the physical copy of the book that it would have been easier to digest those complex parts.
There are lots of fun facts in this book. For example, I learned about the origins of Febreze and why toothpaste has a slight tingle in your mouth. Books are supposed to open the mind, and this one did just that.
I think the essential part of the book was the beginning when it outlines the habit loop. I talked about the habit loop in a previous article, but in short, the habit loop is supposed to help us identify where to change a bad habit into a good one. It’s a discovery process.
Most of all, the book doesn’t say that changing a habit is easy. Most popular books will describe a quick-fix to break habits. However, you have to gather data on your habit. Going back to the habit loop, you have to collect data about why you do what you do. It’s fundamental to your change.
I listened to the audiobook, and I thought the narration fit the book well! This narrator was engaging, entertaining, and enjoyable all at once. Admittedly, some may not like the narrator because he sounds like a cliche talking head from the self-help world. Don’t be deterred, though. The material is still excellent.
What I didn’t like
I don’t have many critiques of this book. If I could be nit-picky, I would have wanted a little more explanation on the habit loop. It would have been more helpful for the later parts of the book. Or, if the book referred back to it a little more, it would have been useful for the audiobook listener.
I say this with a lot of the books I listen to, but get the hardcover! Audiobooks are great for rides in the car or passively listening, but if you want to apply these concepts to your life, get the hardcover.
I’m a strong advocate for changing bad habits. Who isn’t, I guess? If you have a terrible habit, and you want to change it, I highly recommend this book. Leaders especially need to be self-aware enough to want to improve their behaviors. Their actions directly influence companies and organizations.
Final note, The Power of Habit is a great segway into goal setting. If you have wanted to set goals and plans for the future, give this book a read first. There are tons of goal-setting books and content out there, but it won’t help you if you don’t have the habit established first.
In short, read this book! I listen to and read a lot of books, and this one is one of my favorites.
Overall, I give this a 10/10.
If you want to buy the book, click here.
Have you read this book? What was the most exciting part for you? Thanks for reading!