The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit

I started reading Intro to Psychology in online course and looking for something to read and got this book from my friend “The Power of HABIT”. He said it is about psychology of our habit and why we do it. So I got interest in it. Where I never read a full book before, other than academic (even academic we use to read important topics). This book made me to read fully.

HABIT – Why we do, What we do and How to change.

Power of Habit books show case that how Habit occurs and how to change it. It contains in three different areas of Habit of Individual, Organization and Society

Habit of Drug addiction can be changed, by set your focus on some other goal.

Our 40 % of daily activities are Habits. By understanding how it happens, you can rebuild  those patterns in whichever way you choose.

Changing Habits is possible. And now we understand how. We now know why habits emerge, how to change, and the science behind their mechanics.


The Habits of Individuals

1. The Habit Loop – How Habits work:

Story about Eugene Pauley (E.P) and Henry Molaison (H.M) famous patients in medical history. Removal of infected brain part “Hippocampus” resulted to memory lose. But still they able to remember the habits they learned and able to learn new habits in the medical research. When researching E.P, he doesn’t know where the kitchen is, but able to go by himself to take-up some nuts for eating.

Basal Ganglia – responsible for store the habits and igniting it. It placed in center of the skull, golf ball seized tissue. ( In head of fish, reptile or mammal)

Outer parts of brain works for most complex thinking tasks ( laugh for jokes, new invention). Deeper inside the brain and closest to the brain stem, where brain meets the spinal columns is used to control our automatic behaviors ( breathing, etc..)

MIT research lab, they took a rat and placed sensors inside its brain and put it into a maze ( T shape maze, where one side of T contains chocolate). After a week of repeating this maze to that rat and when we see the brain activity, its decreased.

When we repeating things, it gets to basal ganglia and our other parts of brain be silent to do those tasks.

Chunking – Our brains coverts a sequence of actions into a automatic routine.

Without habit loops, our brains would shutdown, overwhelmed by the minutiae of daily life. People whose basal ganglia are damaged become mentally paralyzed. They trouble performing basic activities.

We don’t realize how habit occurs (ex: eating at fast food, start once a month and becomes like twice a week). But still habit break off when a slight change occurs in it. (What happens when the fast food shop closed, we start eating at home, instead of searching new shop).

2. The Craving Brain – How to create new habit:

Story of Claude C. Hopkins – Advertisement consultant who is reason which due to his advertisement many companies are now having popular brand name.

“My life in advertising” book

Pepsodent – Brushing is not a habit in 1900’s, where due to his advs, now the company pepsodent being popular and brushing became a habit.

Cue – Routine – Reward


Habits created, which should be satisfied. Or Some of habits or routine is bored and will lost.

It’s all about Craving brain. Whenever we see a food item or chocolate, it automatically craves our brain to eat.


3. The Golden Rule of Habit Change – Why Transformation Occurs:

Tony Dungy – NFL Coach joined in a hopeless team.His coaching philosophy.

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things”. “They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”

Bill William – A drug addict turned to God (when he feels the spirit in one night and became a free man)

Bill didn’t read academic journals or consultant doctors, but founding AA. AA 12 steps.

Keep the Cue, Provide the same Reward, Insert a new Routine.

A disaster or life changing moment also helps people to change their habit or routine.

Electronic device in basal ganglia, turn on when crave occurs.

New routine will fail in stressful times.

If belief, in God or anything that helps to come out of a stress.

Believe -> comes from any life changing disaster or moment.


Habit of Successful Organizations

4. Keystone Habits, Or the Ballad of Paul O’ Neill – Which Habits Matter Most:

Alcoa – Aluminum Company of America (largest on earth)

New CEO – Paul O’ Neill

Employee Safety is the first rule he announced on his first meet

Change in One Habit, which automatically results change in other behavior

Due to change in the safety rule, the company employees feels the change in company and bought so many ideas and company back to top.

If you need a transformation, you can’t order people to change. So Decided to start focusing on one thing. If I could start disrupting the habits around one thing, it would spread throughout the entire company.

Some “Keystone habits” have the power to start a chain reaction.

To solve any problem go to the bottom of the problem and you will find the solution for it.

Exercise is one of the Keystone habits which make changes in our other behaviors.

Small Win” – in habits help other habits to flourish by creating new structures.

Keystone habits to remake workplace


5. Starbucks and the habit of success – When Willpower becomes automatic:

Travis – whose parents are drug addicts and he cannot stay on job for long, because of his behavior to customers.

Starbucks recruited him and after the training he is totally changed. So soft and care on customer.

Starbucks – training program teaches the life skills, one of the largest educators.

At the core of that education is focus on important habit – Willpower.

Self-discipline has bigger effects on academic performance than does IQ talent.

Willpower is learning skill which needs to be habit

Willpower linked with our self-regulatory.

KIPP – Knowledge is Power Program

Writing the booklet or notes helps more on what we are doing and more control. Self-discipline increases.


6. The Power of A Crisis – How Leaders Create Habits Through Accident and Design:

Habits aren’t deliberately planned, can create accidentally too.

An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change – 1982

Accidents and Critics made leaders or organization to reorder or change the behavior.

Ex: Rhode Island hospital (Nurse & doctor fight) – Mistakes in operation made patient died

Kings’s Cross subway station – Departments fight – Fire on subway.


7. How Target knows what you want before you do – When companies Predict (and manipulate) Habits:

Target – Retail Shopper

  • Search habits of customer from shopping data and buy data from 3rd party.
  • Data collection through guest ID, debit, credit card, online, cookies.
  • Create personalized discounts for the customers.
  • Target was assigned Pole to analysis and get Pregnant women and send them discount products and in future they to send discounts on baby products.
  • In order to avoid customer doubt on shoppers about their tracking, Target send discount on mixed products, in a way customer won’t find any doubt with the advertisement.

Polyphonic HMI’s database – AI experts & statisticians – program Hit Song science.

But a song was not hit in radio station, where people change stations when this song comes. But it was rated high in AI program.

Researcher try to find a reason or idea to make this song hit.

Rich Meyer – Media base – analysis on sticky songs – Where people won’t change their radio station, even they didn’t like the song

Sticky songs – familiar – on genre – People even dislike, subconscious feel the familiar

We choose song like or dislike on mental effort. But most time sounds familiar – like and hear

How to make the song familiar

Play other two familiar songs before and after this, which makes people familiar and hear it.

Whether selling a new song, new food, the lesson is same. If you dress a new something in old habit or familiar, it’s easier for the public to accept it.


The Habits of Society

8. Saddleback Church and the Montgomery Bus Boycott – How Movements Happen:

1950 US – Racism (black and white)

Rose park – lady – bus incident, become social habit and protest

Park relation friend with field hands to college professors. That made to join big group of people to fight, when she ended to jail

  1. Weak tie – Close-tie friends
  2. Peer Pressure or Persuasion

Saddle back Church – Warren and McGavran

  1. Ministers needed to convert groups of people rather than individuals
  2. Teach them the habits of faith – then they become self-feeders.
  3. People follow Christ not because you’ve led them there, but because it’s who they are.


9. The Neurology of Free Will – Are We Responsible for our habits?

Sleepwalker or sleep terrors

While dreaming, our body will not react. But to sleepwalker, they unconscious but do things what they dream

“All our life” – William James – Unsuccessful in life. Make a decision one day to belive in Free Will

Charles Renourier

“Do things difficult at first time, but soon do it more and more easily, final with sufficient practice, do it semi-mechanically or with hardly any consciousness at all”

If you believe you can change – If you make it a habit – the change become real. This is real power of habit

David Foster in class

Fish to other fish – What is water?

The water is habits, the unthinking choices and invisible decisions that surround us every day – and which, just by looking at them, become visible again.

The principle of Psychology – William James

Water – “hollows out for itself a channel, which grows broader and deeper; and, after having ceased to flow, it resumes, when it flows again, the path traced by itself before”

You now know to redirect that path. You now have the power to swim.



  • Routine – The habits you want to change
  • Rewards – Relax, Not hungry, Saw flowers. Satisfy the craving
  • Cue – Identify the category
    1. Location – Where are you?
    2. Time – What time is it?
    3. Emotional State – bored or happy
    4. Other people – Who is around?
    5. Immediately preceding action – What action preceded the urge?
  • Plan


This blog contains only the notes what I have taken. Hope you got something on Habit, How it works and How to change it.


Courtesy: The Power Of Habit book. Read the book to get whole idea in good manner, which contains all chapters and concepts with real stories.