My husband recently recommended a book that is well worth reading, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I found this book extremely interesting, and it caused me to reflect on the habits I have, and habits that I would like to have. It is good news to know that habits can be changed or acquired (of course), but this book went a step further and offered insights on how much habits are such a part of our life. Every task in our day is a habit (think about how you brush your teeth, or how you back your vehicle out of your garage). Habits are a good thing because they free up brain power–if you have a habit in a situation then you don’t have to think about how to act. The trick is to make sure that our habits are appropriate, and produce the desired outcome.
I also found great application in this book in my role as a parent. I worry a lot about teaching my children good habits. The section on “keystone habits” stood out to me, and I think that is what the prophets are going for when they tell us repeatedly to have daily prayer and scripture study and family home evening. With those habits in place, other good things will follow to strengthen our families.
This is definitely a book worth reading! If you want to learn more, read this review on npr. Below are some quotes from the book that especially stood out to me.
- If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group (p. 91).
- Some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization. Some habits…matter more more than others…these are keystone habits (p.100).
- For many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change (p. 109).
- Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity (p. 109).
- Willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success (p. 131). Make willpower a habit!
- Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things. If you want to do something that requires willpower-like going for a run after work-you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day (p. 137). –do it early in the day before you are worn out!
- Signing kids up for piano lessons or sports is important. It has nothing to do with creating a good musician or a soccer star. By meeting practice expectations, they are building self-regulatory strength (p.139).
- Write out your plan–visualize how you will act.
- Let people (children?) have more control in their lives and their willpower will be stronger).
- If you dress a new something in old habits, it’s easier for the public to accept it (p. 210).
- Habits aren’t destiny. We can choose our habits, once we know how (p. 270). Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom–and the responsibility–to remake them (p.271).