THE POWER OF HABIT

June 15, 2013


I just completed reading a great book entitled “THE POWER OF HABIT”, written by Charles Duhigg ; published by Random House; copyright  2012.  The book is a fascinating look into how habits are formed and what activities can and must occur to eliminate a habit considered bad, worrisome or even terrible.   I’m sure we all wonder why we do certain things.  Jesters, activities, mannerisms, “ticks” etc, that for some reason, become habits.  We all would agree that certain habits such as smoking, drug use, over use of alcohol, etc can be extremely destructive but there are “little” habits that drive other people crazy in which we don’t even know we have.  It is said that Tesla, the engineering genius, had several really interesting habits, as follows:

1.       Things Come in 3s:

Tesla had his obsession with the number 3.   It is said that he often walked around a block 3 times before entering a building and that he required 18 (a number divisible by 3) napkins to polish his silverware and drinking glass each night.   When he died, he did so 3 days before his 87th birthday and alone in Room 3327 (a number divisible by 3) of the 33rd floor of the New Yorker Hotel, in which he lived out his last years.

2.       No Sleep for the Brilliant

As did Da Vinci, Tesla claimed to sleep in short bursts, but never over a period of more than two hours at a time.   He did so on a work schedule that often kept him at his desk until after 3 am, then he started again just hours later. It is said that he once worked 84 hours straight.
While he never got what could be considered a good night’s rest, he did admit to “dozing” from time to time.

3.  Fondness for pigeons

Tesla may have chosen to stay away from women and marriage but, according to some reports, he grew overly fond of a pigeon.   Near the end of his life, Tesla walked to the park every day to feed the pigeons. He began to bring injured ones into his hotel room to nurse back to health.  He claimed that he had been visited by a specific injured white pigeon each day at the park. Tesla spent more than $2,000 to fix the bird’s broken wing and leg, including building a device that comfortably supported the bird so her bones could heal.   Tesla is reported as saying, “I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them, for years. But there was one, a beautiful bird, pure white with light grey tips on its wings that was different. It was a female. I had only to wish and call her, and she would come flying to me. I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.”

4.  Oddity odds and ends

Tesla reportedly always despised jewelry and did not own a single piece, seeing it as wasteful and cumbersome. In his very last years, however, he seemed to focus in on pearls specifically, as, in addition to hating jewelry; he began to hate round objects.   In his later years, Tesla also could not bear to touch hair and did not like to shake hands.

Now, the habits are not really that cumbersome and certainly hurt no one, including Tesla.  (I will admit this penchant for taking things in 3’s is a bit odd but only interesting.  )

In Mr. Duhigg’s book, he highlights the following areas:

  • The Habit Loop—How Habits Work
  • The Craving Brain—How to Create  New Habits
  • The Golden Rule of Habit Change—Why Transformation Occurs
  • Keystone Habits, Or the Ballad of Paul O’Neill—Which Habits Matter Most
  •  Starbucks and the Habit of Success—When Willpower Become Automatic
  •  The Power of Crisis—How Leaders Create Habits Through  Accident and Design
  •  How Target Knows What You Want Before You Do—When Companies Predict (and manipulate) Habits.
  •  Saddleback Church and the Montgomery Bus Boycott—How Movements Happen
  •  The Neurology of Free Will—Are We Responsible for Our Habits?

The chapter on how Target knows what you want is truly fascinating and really points out how a company, with minimal buying information, can connect the dots to profile a buyer.  Really fascinating in light of NSA “snooping” in the news at this time.  For anyone who has a habit—or anyone who is living with someone who has a habit—this is a “must read”.  Excellent book and one I can definitely recommend to you.   Hope you enjoy it.

 

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One Response to “THE POWER OF HABIT”

  1. michaelpinto Says:

    This book changed my life and how I view living. Thanks for sharing.

    Like


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