Habits are a very important part in everyone's daily life. I thought it would be interesting to read this book and get an inside look of habits maybe even learning about some of my habits. Everyone has them. For most, it is brushing their teeth twice a day or writing out their agenda for the following day. Some are better than others. For me, I have a bad habit of waiting to do work until the last minute. Others might have the bad habit of smoking or biting their nails. To explain the reason of habits, is when the “habit loop” comes in.
Charles Duhigg starts the book off, in chapter one, by telling the story of 71-year-old Eugene Pauly who lost the medial temporal lobe of his brain to viral encephalitis. Although the rest of his brain was perfectly intact, this caused him to totally lose his short term memory. Eugene was only able to recall life events that happened before 1960. He had trouble remembering the layout of his house, knowing who his grandchildren were, and continually repeating himself with something that he had only said a few minutes prior. His wife decided that he needed to get exercise so she would take him on walks around the neighborhood. One day, she found herself frantically looking throughout the house for Eugene. Fifteen minutes later, he appeared back at the house after taking himself on a walk. This was very strange considering that he could not previously draw out a map of his own neighborhood. This was the answer to all of the unanswered questions scientists had about this area of the brain. They speculated that habits are formed and operate in an entirely separate part of the brain that is responsible for memory. Tests have since proved that we, as humans, make unconscious choices without having to remember anything about the lesson or decision making. Your brain is constantly looking for new ways to not have to work as hard, and is constantly combining sequences of actions into automatic responses. Duhigg made a comparison to backing out of the driveway. It normally
takes multiple actions, however, our brain combined them so we just need one swift movement to maneuver out of the space. This habit process consists of a three-step loop: cue, routine, reward. Cue is a trigger that tells your brain that there is a situation that needs to be reacted to. Routine is the physical or mental action of accomplishing the task at hand which follows the cue. Reward is the positive mental stimulus that lets the brain know it has done a good job. The book states that once you have a better understanding how your habits work, you will have a much higher success rate in controlling them.
Duhigg also brings up The Marshmallow Test. It was a test where scientists gave children marshmallows and told them that they could eat it now or wait and receive a second marshmallow. They then tracked the kids down when they got to high school and noticed that the grades, SAT scores and social success were higher of the kids who waited for that second marshmallow. What the four year olds demonstrated was willpower. Numerous studies have shown that by exercising willpower in one area, such as exercising or academics, you will be able to use more willpower and apply it to different areas of your life.
In chapter 6, Duhigg contends, “There are no organizations without institutional habits. There are only places where they are deliberately designed, and places where they are created without forethought.” Every company has routines that come to them naturally which make it possible for them to operate. Without the routines the heads of the company would never be able to keep up with problems or decisions that they come across on a daily basis. For example, if a new co-worker asks you the ins and outs of the company, you probably won't be referring to the handbook. You would be sharing the tips and tricks that you have learned along the way and informal rules that have been passed down to you from previous co-workers. If the organization
or company is successful, it is probably due to the fact that they have cultivated organizational habits that balance the power and keep peace while maintaining an obvious leader. Unfortunately, in the early 2000s, a Rhode Island Hospital, which was considered to be one of the nation's leading medical institutions, came under speculation for doctors mistreating nurses, a series of operating room mistakes, and negative publicity. All of these accusations led to the installation of video cameras in operating rooms, checklist mandating every surgery, and an anonymous report taking system being implemented.
In the book, Charles Duhigg Goes over the fact that companies can predict and manipulate your spending habits before you even know what you want to buy. he goes in mentioning that companies have been relying heavily on big data over the past 20 years in order to predict consumers' buying habits. Even though you might know what you want when you go to buy something, there is a very good chance that you will see something not on your mental shopping list that you end up buying because It was placed in front of you by the company because they know that you looked that specific product up a week ago. So we have come to the conclusion that despite a shopper's intentions, habits are often stronger than predetermined shopping lists. Companies such as Target have collected individual data from the past decade for the individual shopper. When combined with data such as your age, location, or ethnicity, retailers have a very vivid picture of who you are and what you might want to purchase. Depending on the items you buy, can tell a lot about your life. For example, if you stop at Target to buy ice cream every Sunday and pool toys every June, they probably know that you have kids, stop to get groceries once a week, and own a pool. The algorithm will notice that you're buying coffee at Target but not milk and then send you coupons for milk considering you probably buy
your dairy at a different store. You will then probably get coupons for lawn furniture, swimwear, and school supplies while your elderly neighbors receive completely different coupons. Companies that use advanced data mining also found something else that is crucial to their marketing success: when a person goes through a life-changing event, such as a midlife crisis, they often change purchasing habits. Considering this discovery, companies are very interested in whether you move to a different area, give birth to a child, or experience a change in your relationship status. In this way, companies have a major role in your shopping habits.
The habit of societies was another theme that was discussed in the book by Duhigg. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks uttered her famous refusal to give up her seat on the bus. Contrary to popular belief, she wasn't in the “white section”. There were three seats that were open for the white man to choose yet he still decided to harass Mrs. Parks for her seat. However, Mrs. Parks wasn't the first pioneer of this act of defiance. She was very involved in her community while belonging to dozens of religious, social, charity, and hobbyist groups that didn't seem to overlap. The problem started when the former head of the Montgomery NAACP and a white lawyer, both friends of Mrs. Parks, posted her bail and asked her permission to use the incident to legally challenge the city's segregation laws. By the end of the day, news of her arrest had spread throughout the community. This sparked rage and an influential schoolteacher's group already came up with a boycott on the day of her appearance in court. All of the groups that she had been apart of spread flyers, and within 24 hours word had gotten even farther. So many considered her as a friend therefore, she had a very strong support system. She had what sociologists would call “weak ties”. Babe are more valuable when it comes to jobs because they connect us to groups and information that we would not know otherwise. close
friends usually run in the same groups that we do so they would be unlikely to be able to connect with us too much outside of our own friend bubble. As for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, weak ties were powerful because they created peer pressure. Most people wouldn't freak out if they lost an acquaintance but Mrs. Parks' web of connections created peer pressure. You risk losing social standing in the community if you didn't participate in supporting Mrs. Parks. It would be like refusing to help a friend. You would then be exiled from your social circle to which you belong to with that friend. It's pretty hard to get a resume referrals if all you do is burn bridges. when the newspaper printed an article about how the black community had planned to boycott the buses, the city took it as a social understanding that everyone was going to do it. The boycott became a new social habit that escalated into larger social have it of peaceful protest in jump-starting the Civil Rights Movement which eventually led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 .
Are we responsible for our habits? In 2010, a neuroscience researcher discovered something when he used an MRI machine to compare the brains of pathological gamblers with merely social gamblers. When they watched Lots play on a video screen there was a difference in how excited the pathological gamblers brains were when a winning match displayed. What is even more interesting, is that the social gamblers correctly registered the near-misses as losses or the pathological gamblers registered them as wins. This is considered a big difference in the habit loop. After the cue of a near-miss, the pathological gambler's mind provides a reward which recreates the habit loop, leading to more gambling. The same cue in a social gambler's mind only leads to a reward when he or she stops gambling and escapes the potential to lose money.
After reading this book, I have gained a better insight into the way that habits are integrated into everyone's life. I now have a better understanding of my habits and why I have these habits. Everyone has different habits and everyone functions differently like previously stated with the gamblers. This is what makes us unique as God's creation.
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