My Obsession with Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit

(Originally posted September 18, 2013)


We all have things we like to do when we’re in a funk, right?

One thing I do is go to my local independent bookseller (The Tattered Cover), get some chai, and meander around slowly until a book basically jumps off the shelf at me and says, “PICK ME, PICK ME!”

A couple months ago I was funk-busting at “The Tattered” (as locals call it) and this is what jumped out at me:

PowerOfHabitThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Read this book! If you’re looking to change something in your life, this is a great choice. If you just love reading well-written and well-researched content that will entertain you while it changes you, this is a great choice.

Duhigg shares an inspiring story about William James (brother of writer Henry James). William was kind of the f*ck up of his family—he was going nowhere fast and he felt like a complete failure. Instead of taking his own life, which was an option he’d been considering, he decided to do a year-long experiment:

“He would spend twelve months believing that he had control over himself and his destiny, that he could become better, that he had the free will to change.”

“Over the next year, he practiced every day. In his diary, he wrote as if his control over himself and his choices was never in question.”

And guess what? His life turned around in every area!

Duhigg continues speaking about William James:

Later, he would famously write that the will to believe is the most important ingredient in creating belief in change. And that one of the most important methods for creating that belief was habits. Habits, he noted, are what allow us to “do a thing with difficulty the first time, but soon do it more and more easily, and finally, with sufficient practice, do it semi-mechanically, or with hardly any consciousness at all.”

[People grow] “to the way in which they have been exercised, just as a sheet of paper or a coat, once creased or folded, tends to fall forever afterward into the same identical folds.”

Do YOU Have the Will to Believe?

Do you believe that you can create the change you’re seeking in your own life?

Are you creating your own “creases and folds” to your liking or are you allowing everyone around you to crease and fold you according to their will?


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