Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean
c.2013, DaCapo Lifelong $26.00 / $29.00 Canada 256 pages
This year, youre really going to do it.
No more unfulfilled promises. No more embarrassment, explaining, or excuses. Youll never have to hide that bad habit again because youre going to quit smoking, stop gambling, be kinder, resist going online every ten minutes, lose weight, whatever it is youve been meaning to do for months.
Youre really going to do it. You are. And with Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean by your side, you really might accomplish that goal.
Step into the self-help section of any bookstore or library, and you might think that 21 is a magic number: a lot of books claim that you can fix your life in that many days.
Jeremy Dean says establishing habits isnt that easy, however. Research shows that it takes an average of 66 days for a habit to be formed, depending on several factors. A really strong habit could take a year to create!
From the time we get up in the morning until the time we fall asleep, we follow habits without thinking about them, which is one of the main characteristics of a habit. Habits are also curiously emotionless and are generally followed in connection with another situation: you get in the car and turn on the radio because, well, youre in the car.
Thats a habit made in response to rewards from the environment. Conversely, making habits can also be intentional but it depends on how worthwhile we find them. You may intend to get to the gym every day, for instance, but if youd really rather stay in bed, guess which activity wins.
There has to be an ultimate goal that is really worth achieving or the habit will be almost impossible to ingrain, says Dean. Muster all the willpower your body possesses, visualize until your head hurts, but nothing works if theres no internal reward. External rewards, Dean says, are laced with danger.
As for breaking habits, its hard to stop doing something youre not aware youre doing. Whats worse: studies show that trying to suppress a thought or action makes you want to do it all that much more. So forget about self-control, says Dean. Instead, change your cues, pay attention, know yourself, and learn some happy habits.
Looking for a quick-fix for those New Years Resolutions? Nope, Making Habits, Breaking Habits isnt it.
By helping us understand what makes us tick and why, author Jeremy Dean avoids platitudes and misty advice to give his readers the tools they need to stop being frustrated by change and lack thereof. He advocates patience and dispels a lot of myths about why we do the things we do (or dont), explaining why our willpower fails us or why we find some habits easy to make.
Thats helpful, and could make a fix that sticks.
While there are times when this book seemed smaller than its subject, I think it would be advantageous to anyone whos serious about changing behavior. If thats you, then find Making Habits, Breaking Habits . and then do it.