Summary on “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg – Part 2

This is part 2 of the summary about the book “The Power of Habit” by Charless Duhigg. In this part I will try to describe what I have learned from the second part of the book.  If you want to read what this is all about, please refer to the first part of the summary.

Part 2:

Most of the time it is important to not try to make big changes to a habit. This is because changes are not easy if they overhaul the whole habit loop. It’s far easier just to change a little part of the routine, and thus making sure the habit actually changes over the long haul.

One of the most important things in life is willpower and self-discipline. Both are very important during the rest of your life and therefore if you can find a way to improve those qualities can be life changing. One of the best ways to improve those qualities is to create a habit that improves those qualities.

Another thing that helps changing a habit fast, is a good crisis! Whenever a crisis appears things are just more easy accepted by the people around you. Most of the time people hate changing or changes in general, but a crisis changes all! The main reason for this is that when a crisis appears it is really evident things need to change, and this makes people cooperate!

Als er verbeteringen moeten worden doorgevoerd maar de mensen willen er niet aan, dan kan een crisis heel goed helpen. Bij een crisis is het namelijk evident voor iedereen dat er iets moet veranderen. Dan willen mensen wel meedenken.

The marshmallow Example:

One of the most important experiments on behavioural science of the last century was a Stanford experiment about marshmallows. In this experiment kids were placed in a room with a marshmallow in front of them. If they managed to wait for 5 minutes without eating the marshmallow they would get another one. This is a prime example on delayed gratification, and how if successful can grant you a bigger reward.

The same kids from this experiment were tracked for years, and that led to some nice conclusions. For example the amount of time the kids could delay the gratification was directly from influence on the grades they got later in school.

The experiment also led to another conclusion and that was that you could learn to have better willpower! It is a learnable skill, the same as for example the training of a muscle will make it grow. The kids who could concentrate on other things besides the marshmallow could more easily delay their gratification. So by learning to recognise and use habits in your daily life, one could more easily delay gratification and train the willpower!

The analogy of willpower and a muscle also implies that willpower is something that is not endlessly available. So it can also run out if used to much. This was also tested in several experiments. Another experiment was that they followed a group of people who did not do any sports, and started sporting. The results from this were, that people were also having a better diet, smoked less cigarettes and more of the same stuff! The willpower they got from regular exercising helped grow the willpower muscle, and therefore got them to have better willpower in resisting other cravings.

To me the last part was one of the biggest discoveries in this part of the book. The sheer fact that willpower is a muscle, and acts in the same ways was sort of mind blowing. And if I looked back on my previous experiences indeed it seems to work that way. When doing lot’s of exercise things like eating healthier and drinking less are sort of getting easier in a way. First I thought this was due to the fact I just want to live healthier and therefore just did less of those bad habits. But after thinking about it, it is kind of a paradox, because if doing a lot of exercise you could eat more food anyway, without having problems. This is the real power of habit!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *