Thinking about: The power of habit

Well over a year ago (the spring before we left New York), at an articles club, some friends and I started talking about Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit
. I knew it from the excerpts that appeared in the New York Times—they were fascinating: the article, “How Companies Learn Your Secrets” discussed how Target was using customer purchase records to determine which female shoppers were pregnant.

Apparently, your habits are subject to change dramatically during major life-changes, like getting pregnant. When you have a child, you are open to developing new brand loyalties, making you an ideal customer for companies to, well, target! Anyway, I was loving the book so much during our trip to St. Martin that year that Aron and I even bought copies for our fathers.

I thought about it often when we were moving. One could look at the book as containing lessons for breaking bad habits. But as I understood, habits never die. You can only change or remove cues and form new habits. So it was of special interest to me when all of our cues were about to completely change! In moving, we were completely removing ourselves from our routines, our familiar surroundings and depositing ourselves into a totally different environment.

Let’s say that every time I walked by Chikalicious in the East Village, I would get a craving for a banana cupcake (you know, for the sake of argument… wink wink). This is a really silly, simple example, but I would no longer be walking home on Second Avenue and crossing 10th street. Cue removed.

And when we first moved, we talked a lot about whether we needed two cars. As it turned out, we did, but I held out as long as possible and tried to use only a bicycle (or my feet) as my major mode of transportation, toting Hudson—not too difficult to do in Davis. I liked the idea that, even if found (as I did) that I needed the speed and convenience of a second car, I might start off forming some good habits. (In retrospect, I could have done better.)

Anyway, while we were in Bali, I literally started making a list of which habits I’d want to form and what I want my days to look like (rather than which habits I’d want to break). It felt like a chance for change and revision! A tremendous time of opportunity.

Over a year has passed and moving turned out to be pretty distracting! It was harder than I expected to be conscious about habits… and I never finished the book! But here we are, at the turn of the year (resolutions!), and about to add another member to the family (major life change!), and my book club has decided to read The Power of Habit for January (second chance!). Now I just have to hope everyone else likes the book, too.

What new habits would you like to form? Weekly planning for a few home-cooked meals at home is on my list.

P.S. The Happiness Project and creating a narrative with fun, family traditions. Oh, and this is my first time in a book club—so fun! Tonight we’re talking about The Interestings

and bringing presents to donate.

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