Say you want to start going to the gym or practicing a musical instrument. How long should it take before you stop having to force it and start doing it automatically?
The surprising answers are found in Making Habits, Breaking Habits, a psychologist's popular examination of one of the most powerful and under-appreciated processes in the mind. Although people like to think that they are in control, much of human behavior occurs without any decision-making or conscious thought.
Drawing on hundreds of fascinating studies, psychologist Jeremy Dean busts the myths to finally explain why seemingly easy habits, like eating an apple a day, can be surprisingly difficult to form, and how to take charge of your brain's natural “autopilot” to make any change stick.
Witty and intriguing, Making Habits, Breaking Habits shows how behavior is more than just a product of what you think. It is possible to bend your habits to your will—and be happier, more creative, and more productive.
In the epigraph to this examination of habitual behavior, Montaigne describes habit as a violent and treacherous schoolmistress ; but though we are all her pupils, Dean opines that we have a say in what goes on in the classroom. In an effort to get readers to be more aware of their habitual behavior and therefore better able to guide it to productive ends, Dean, a psychologist and the founder of PsyBlog (where he writes on an assortment of psychology-related topics for professionals and laypeople alike), addresses the numerous stages of habits how they re formed, indoctrinated, maintained, and changed. Although some habits, good or bad, obviously stem from intention (e.g., exercise or smoking), many are the products of unconscious processes that rarely surface long enough to be dealt with. As such, Dean elucidates mindfulness techniques to refocus bad habits and demonstrates methods to establish and retain good habits. What unifies all of the techniques is the understanding that habits, regardless of their origin, take work and motivation to control. Supplemented with analyses of contemporary research and case studies, Dean s is an accessible and informative guide for readers to take control of their lives.