Book Review: The Power of Habit

“To modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it” — Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

I often talk about the importance of mindfulness: living in the now, savoring new experiences, pulling yourself out of autopilot in order to be present in the current moment. Some people go so far as to claim that practicing mindfulness is the best approach for a happier life. Yet, others claim what seems like the opposite: that autopilot can be our friend, and that habits can make our lives simpler and happier.

My philosophy is currently floating somewhere in the middle. I think both mindfulness and routines are necessary for the pursuit of happiness. We can use our mindfulness practice to become more aware of our personal habits, which can help us eliminate unnecessary decisions and leave us more energy for things that will make us happier.

ThePowerOfHabitNew York Times investigative journalist Charles Duhigg agrees (although his point of view definitely focuses a bit more on the habits side of things). In his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Duhigg unpacks how harnessing our habits can transform our lives, businesses, and communities for the better.

The transformation starts with understanding the mechanics of a habit. The “habit loop” structure is pretty simple: First, there is a cue, which triggers a routine, which is validated by a reward.Read More »

The Balance Between Self-Care and Making Excuses

Recently I’ve been struggling to put words on the page. It’s the busiest season at work. I’ve been grieving the loss of a loved one. I’ve had some valid excuses. Stress and grief can both get in the way of creativity, and they drain you — so as you can imagine, I haven’t been feeling quite as creative as usual this month.

At first, I was proud of myself for taking a little break. I was prioritizing imperfection to make room for self-care, giving myself time to reboot and rebalance — all of the things I’ve touted as smart ways to take care of yourself.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve tried to sit down and work on some writing, but the more time passes between blog posts, the more the self-doubt starts to creep in. What if my writer’s block doesn’t let up? What if what I write isn’t “good enough”? 

When I realized that fear-based thinking was becoming the driving force for not writing — as opposed to intentional self-care — I knew I had to stop making excuses.

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