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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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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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