Habits are Powerful

I highly recommend The Power of Habit:Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg-- it's Malcolm-Gladwell-meets-self-help-- and not only does he make good on his promise in the subtitle,  but he does it in an entertaining, breezy style (with graphics!) that belies the rather disturbing hypothesis: our consciousness is mainly a bundle of cues, routines, and rewards; this is the same ground that Aristotle tread a couple thousand of years ago-- the only way towards virtue is habitual action and revision of this action towards a golden mean-- and Marvin Minsky's Society of the Mind is applicable as well; anyway, the thrust of the book is that you can't quit habits cold-turkey, you need to replace the routine or the reward with something comparable, and you need to BELIEVE you can change-- because reestablishing these routines and rewards is HARD . . . people do stop drinking and smoking every day, but not without many relapses and difficulty . . . you have to figure out an adequate replacement for the routine and reward when the cue arises; it also seems there are certain keystone habits that are crucial to changing everything, habits that cascade into other habits; Paul O'Neill realized this when he took over Alcoa and so he focused on one thing: employee safety, and vigilance in that one area caused a domino effect that changed the culture of the entire company; anyway, I've been nicotine free since the summer, and this book made me realize how I did it; I only crave chewing tobacco when I'm out past my bedtime and need sleep, and so now when I want to dip, I go home and go to sleep.

5 comments:

Clarence said...

What if you don't want to go home and go to sleep?

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