Ever wonder why some people end up in endlessly negative cycles, despite being self-aware and desiring help. Charles Duhigg posits that habit: what we do and what prompts us to do it everyday, has more pertinence to destructive and positive cycles than one might think. Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit - Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” follows from a few key precedents in the self-help genre, especially from sources like Steven Covey’s influential and seminal work “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” one of the first blueprints that connected attitude, intentionally guided habit-forming behaviors and how to use these in conjunction to achieve your personal or social goals.
Using the symbolism of a man running in a loop in a three-stage process of initial struggle, success, and failure, similar to the structure and purpose of a mouse wheel, Duhigg prefaces the main subject of discussion: habit. “The Power of Habit” modernizes some of the Covey’s vaguer, yet impactful ideas such as the maturity continuum for permanence in habit formation. Analogously, Duhigg writes and characterizes this ideas as a feedback loop consisting of a cue, a routine, and a reward, ostensibly re-emphasizing the cyclical nature shown in the book’s cover image.
Of course, this view of habit formation involving cues, routine, and reward draws additionally from Pavlovian influences, where dogs trained to associate food with a cue, such as a bell ringing, would begin to salivate in anticipation. However, it is important to distinguish Duhigg’s model as one of intentional habit creation, as a “routine” step is inserted between the “cue” and “reward” steps, with the implications here being that the cue-reward psychology may be used to train routines or good habits. Throughout the book, Duhigg gives a number of real world applications and examples in personal and business situations on how this interpretation of this habit forming philosophy applies. The book starts off with a number of interesting, medically-based anecdotes before delving deeper into more solid foundations of research regarding habit formation and more subtle aspects of the process, such as how to deal and channel the energy of craving.