Reforming Habits #1

I’ve decided to create a new category for Miscellaneous things that I want to talk about that I feel like I could find useful in the future. In this series, I will talk about a book I will be rereading to refresh what I learned about forming habits.

The book is called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and it is a New York Times Bestseller. From what I remember, it was a really interesting book that allowed me to think about my daily habits and the habits we fall into subconsciously.

I skipped the first chapter of the book as it is essentially an introduction of habits and the discovery of how our brain and body unknowingly falls into control by habit.

The second chapter explains how to create new habits and provides cool examples of real things that happened. One interesting example I read was how Claude Hopkins, a famous advertisement guru, essentially created new habits in the American population out of something totally conjured in superficiality. In the early-mid-1900s, toothpaste was not a daily staple in the lives of a majority of the American people. People had no use for it, as they didn’t see a problem with their rotting, decaying teeth. It was the norm back then.

However, what Hopkins did was create what is called a “habit loop” that will make people brush their teeth with toothpaste. He appealed to peoples’ desire of beauty and how using toothpaste will remove the “white film” that covers your teeth. His steps of learning “the right human psychology” are

  1. Find a simple and obvious cue. (in this case, “white film” on your teeth)
  2. Clearly define the rewards. (beauty!)

From this, we can see that “new habits are created by putting together a cue, a routine, and a reward…” but the important part of creating a lasting habit is “cultivating a craving that drives the loop”.

Cravings are what drive habits, whether good or bad. Cravings for that dessert that you want after a meal or the quick pleasure of watching the next Youtube video even when it’s 3am at night. When we can figure out how to identify these cravings, and destroy them, or altogether replacing the cue, routine and reward that satisfy that innate craving, is when we can change our habits.

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