Repeat Performances   1 comment

I’m a careful driver, but some days I forget having passed a certain roadside
marker, or I have no recollection of having turned left at the light. Based on
Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, it has less to do with a faulty memory
and is more about habit – the consistent recurrence of a deliberate choice.

Duhigg looks at habit from three perspectives: personal, corporate, and socie-
tal. The first two are the most fascinating and well-developed. With thorough
research and a conversational style, Duhigg relates scientific studies about
individuals and the patterns their brains establish to create habits. The author
considers individuals who completely alter their lifestyles by choice, as well
as those whose lives are changed by trauma or illness. He identifies three ne-
cessary elements: cues, routines, and rewards needed to establish habits.

The most interesting, albeit disturbing, aspects are found in the corporate view.
Duhigg reinforces what we already know: our spending habits are not secret.
This loss of privacy is not a new concern, but how we lose it is disconcerting.
Duhigg examines everything from how employees are trained to respond, to how
data is manipulated. The book’s weak link comes as Duhigg combines habitual
actions that evolve into addiction with those resulting from a physical medical
condition when examining societal aspects.

Although the focus of the book is to consider “why we do what we do in life and
business,” Duhigg does offer some suggestions for breaking the triad of habit,
which might be worth a try.

The Power of Habit

Three-and-a-half bookmarks
Random House, 2012
291 pages, plus notes and index


One response to “Repeat Performances

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  1. I loved being told it’s not ME but some universal thing that when I go charging into a room for something and when I get there, I don’t know why I’m there!!!

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