Making Habits, Breaking Habits | Jeremy Dean

Summary of: Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick
By: Jeremy Dean


Embark on an enlightening journey into the world of habits with Jeremy Dean’s ‘Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick’. This book summary illuminates the hidden histories and intricate workings of habits, the daily actions that govern our lives without us even realizing it, and how we can harness this knowledge for self-transformation and growth. By delving into the fascinating realms of automaticity and context, uncover how habits are formed, sustained, and broken. Learn about the roles of motivation, repetition, and happiness in creating new habits and overcoming obstacles, including breaking free from detrimental habits, using mindfulness and self-control.

The Power of Habits

Habits are automatic behaviors executed without conscious awareness. They are formed through intentions and context, but repetition decreases enthusiasm.

Habits are powerful and shape our daily lives more than we realize. They are automatic behaviors executed without conscious awareness, and the first aspect of a habit involves automaticity. We are unaware of the execution of a given action, such as flicking on a light while entering a room. Moreover, since repetition decreases enthusiasm, the act of performing habits is emotionless. As a result, habits become mundane and often go unnoticed, such as our morning routine, which conjures up no strong emotions. Additionally, context defines habits because of the associations we form between our surroundings and our behavior. For example, early experiences of socializing with friends and drinking beers result in a connection between the pleasures of socializing and the habit of drinking alcohol.

Habits are formed through intentions. We start brushing our teeth regularly to have healthy, white teeth. Another way habits are formed is by explaining random past behavior by adding an intention later on. For instance, sitting in the same place in a friend’s kitchen because it was the only free spot when you first visited her and now telling yourself it is your favorite place. Finally, we can combine both the intention and explanation behind our habits, such as biking to work because we were dieting but continuing to do so because we enjoy being out in the fresh air.

In conclusion, habits are powerful and shape our daily lives. They involve automaticity, which lessens enthusiasm, and context, which creates associations between our surroundings and behavior. Habits are formed through intentions, explanation, or both. By understanding the mechanism of habit formation, we can shape our habits towards our desired outcomes better.

The Power of Habits

Habits are an integral part of our lives, and they help us navigate through daily routines. However, many of our habits operate at the unconscious level, making them hard to identify. They include social habits, work routines, eating habits, and habits of thought. Negative thinking habits can be linked to mental illnesses such as depression. Similarly, unhelpful habits such as rumination do more harm than good. Breaking away from such habits requires conscious effort and a willingness to change. Understanding the power of habits can help us lead a more productive and fulfilling life.

Manipulating Habits

It’s possible to manipulate habits by determining your motivation, finding the right implementation intention, repetition, anticipating challenging situations, and making them happy habits.

If you want to form new and healthy habits, the good news is that you can manipulate them, even though they stem from your unconscious. To do so, there are three essential steps that you need to follow.

Firstly, you must determine your motivation and employ the WOOP exercise to pinpoint your ultimate goal. Writing down your wish, along with the best possible outcome and obstacles, can help you overcome those obstacles. For example, suppose your wish is to run daily. In that case, your outcome might be to get in shape so that you can complete a 10km run, while obstacles will likely be harsh weather and physical discomfort.

Secondly, finding the right implementation intention and acting on “if x, then y” decisions can help you plan. Positive statements like “I’ll take the stairs” are far more effective than “I’m not taking the elevator.”

Thirdly, repetition is essential as it leads to automation. If you’re unsatisfied with your habit development, try coping planning, where you anticipate challenging situations for your new habit and find the right if-then solution.

Finally, make your habits happy habits by switching them up, avoiding habituation, and using techniques like savoring. Taking different routes to work or intentionally engaging your senses, such as stopping to smell a fragrant flower, can keep you engaged in happy habits.

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