Brain Lift Book Club Discussion: The Power of Habit


February 25, 2013 by nicolerothier

The Power of Habit by Charle Duhigg

The Power of Habit by Charle Duhigg

Hello my fellow Nerdazons (get it, nerd + amazon) I know, I’m super smart.  It must be all those buh-oks! Speaking of those, it is time to discuss the wonderful book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. For the past month, I have been nose deep within these pages, absorbing as much information as possible. And, trust me, there sure is a lot. The first thing that came to mind when I finished? “Oh my god, he is right.”  So put on your glasses, get out your pen and paper, and brace yourselves for a whole lotta nerdiness:


Charles Duhigg starts out explaining the habit loop, and provides us with pretty little pictures to facilitate our understanding (how sweet). Not only are the pictures cute at times (note the happy monkey with his juice), but they are also simple. If Chemistry teachers around the world had taught with pictures similar to these, we’d all be geared towards becoming master Chemists. Regardless, the great thing about the habit loop is just one “formula” can be applied to all sorts of habits such as smoking and overeating. One formula to rule them all!


Basic Habit Loops consist of a cue, the routine, and the reward.


Happy Monkey sees the cue, pulls the lever, and gets “happy juice” on his face. Hmm…

So, in the case of an overeating loop – you are bored at your desk. You automatically get up, walk to the cafeteria, buy a cookie and talk with others who are also in the cafeteria, resulting in a rewarding feeling. Now, four months later, your pantyhose are a little tight or you’ve ditched your belt. Those cookies are sometimes monsters

That break you take where you get your cookie and socialize with others – what is driving that? Duhigg suggests experimentation: if you are bored, go for a walk or socialize away from food; if you are hungry, eat an apple. Figure out what is really driving your routine and what will satisfy you without consequence. What a solution. See more habit-changing solutions here.

As Darlene and I excitedly discussed this book in Hu Kitchen (the Paleo-ist of New York), we delved deeper into the implications of what Duhigg was bringing up. Between intermittent exclamations from Darlene “THE FRENCH KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING,” (she’s reading a book about French food culture) and some Facebook breaks, we responded to Duhigg’s message:

First and foremost is the conditioning of food to be a reward, band-aid, friend, therapist, and even an enemy. Why do we consider food a reward? Often times I find myself thinking, I have been working so hard, I deserve this Starbucks (filled with crap, but oh so yummy) hot chocolate. But why? Food is (or should be) a nutritional substance we put into our bodies in order to function. A reward is a shopping spree (at least to me), not something that will take away from all the hard work I put in leading me to deserve this “reward” (what a habit loop that is). We need to move away from food as much more than something nutritional – it keeps us alive and kicking – does it really need to do more than that?

I then began thinking about other ways the book rang true to me, even in my personal life. Duhigg talked about toothpaste and how companies discovered that people associated a tingly feeling in their mouth after brushing their teeth as “clean.” Similarly, shampoo and soaps that lather give us a clean feeling – we know it is working. My mom uses super natural, organic toothpaste. Whenever I use her toothpaste, I have to brush my teeth several times, and I still feel as though my teeth aren’t clean. We need that tactile feedback. How are these products tingling and lathering? Well, those god forsaken chemicals. These little demons are in our toothpaste and shampoo, making us “clean,” or rather, chalk full of chemicals. I wouldn’t want to brush my teeth with nuclear waste, so why would I want to brush them with additives. It made both Darlene and I think, what “benign” (or not so) chemicals are in other seemingly harmless products. Yikes.

christ toothpaste

Buddy Christ wants your teeth pearly white and glowing.

From toothpaste on steroids, to murders and gamblers, this book seriously covers all bases. One of the people mentioned in the book becomes addicted to gambling, the casino offering her a line of credit and free nights at the hotel. She slowly squanders all of her money on blackjack, leaving her and her family in heaps of debt. On the other side, a man who frequently sleepwalks goes camping with his wife. In the middle of the night, he believes someone is trying to murder her, so he strangles the intruder. Yet there was never an intruder, and instead strangles and kills his own wife in a bad fit of sleep-murder. Both of these reactions and habits come from the same place, the basal ganglia. So I leave you with this question: who is guilty of a crime, the gambler or the murder? Duhigg found that the majority of people felt more sympathy for the widower who strangled his own wife than for the wife who couldn’t seem to get a grip and control her need for gambling for her family’s sake. However, not everyone had this reaction.

My family easily gets addicted to anything: people, places, food, feelings, cars, trees, rocks. Yup, anything. When I read (and compared) these two stories, I would consider myself to be on the less “popular” side. I wholeheartedly believe the gambler is a victim. The casino played on her uncontrollable addiction, unfairly coercing her to spend every penny she had. They knew her weakness, they targeted it, and shot until she had nothing left to give them. Maybe it is because of the environment and family I was raised, but I found it very interesting the different situations we sympathize with considering our past.

Please (please, pretty please) share your thoughts on either the book, our response, or even rainbows – we just want to hear from you! Also, please join us next month on our new nerdy adventure into The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. Power to the nerds!



One thought on “Brain Lift Book Club Discussion: The Power of Habit

  1. […] stuck in your head now. Also! Check out my guest post on our first book club discussion over at Urban Amazon! Now, on to the more helpful […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


So much of life is in how we transition. In if we allow ourselves a process, get stuck, or judge ourselves in moments of deep change. If we can find calm in our storms and not cling as things slip past us. - - - I've been home from Koh Phanang, Thailand for 4 days & mostly sleeping. This beautiful trip rocked me and my soul. I've come back with clarified questions and a fire inside, ready for the exciting changes to come. - - - Has something ignited your fire recently? What changes are on your horizon that you're hoping to rise to? Share in the comments. - - #throwbackthursday #tt #kohphagan #thailand #wanderlust #wanderwoman #sunset #beachvibes #beachlife #zenbeach #beautiful #meditation #selfgrowth #personaldevelopment #selfcare #growandchange
Travel is a huge challenge for #spoonies - for those with hEDS it's a shock to the nervous system and a real struggle. I'm only 1/3 of the way into my 40 hour haul from Thailand to New York and was already starting to feel the effects of the flight. Dizzy, nauseous, disoriented. What's a #zebra to do? . . . I applied all I've learned the last month with @luna_alignment_yoga of course! If my nervous system is the problem, what if I use movement to help? First I got a massage and took a shower, because that always helps. Then I combined @yogigypsynomad and my finals her use of #sunsalutation to stimulate the autonomic nervous system, and then I added some more forward folds and gentle twists to calm it back down. Finished up with 7 min of pranayama to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. . . The result? I'm hungry! When those with hEDS fly we experience gastroparesis - a stalled digestive system. Thats why the nausea. Being hungry means the practice worked! Any spoonies out there who want to know more DM me. . . What do you think @talswissa is that intelligent practice? Would Anu be proud? 😉 . . . #movementismymedicine #spoonievictory #spooniewarrior #myillnessdoesnotdefineme #yogaeverywhere #lunaalignmentyoga #alignmentyoga #alignmentfirst #trainsmarter #selfcare #selfcareisselflove #learningtolovemyself #hEDS #EhlersDanlos #EhlersDanlosSyndromes
Being the middle of 5 crazies. And I wouldn't have it any other way. . . #nationalsiblingday #wildchild #middlechild #threes #lifeinthrees #wanderlust #farfromhome #homesick
It's important to be a supportive friend - and when @alliolson23 and I find the rest of the @luna_alignment_yoga TTC crew on the beach the support was in full force! . . . This trip has taught me so much about myself. Things I was scared to try that I can now see I'm capable of, that I can learn to trust more deeply and open up, and apparently that I can FLY! . . . 10 more days in Koh Phanang and trying to live fully in them. . . #kohphagan #thailand #200yttc #200ytt #acroyoga #trysomethingnew #spoonievictory #spooniewarrior #spoonie #iamnotmyillness #eds #EhlersDanlosSyndromes #alignmentyoga #challengeyourself #strongissexy #strongwoman
It's a full moon tonight on Koh Phanang but the stars are out early. . 📸 @paulinedemuynck . #kohphagan #secretbeach #nude #selflove #takearisk #myillnessdoesnotdefineme #bigisbeautiful #thailand #fullmoon #bluemoon #srithanu #beachlife #beautiful #beachvibes #selfacceptance
I came to Thailand to shift my perspective - today we took that literally! My first full inversion! . . . Conventional medical "wisdom" will tell you I can't do this - that people with Ehlers Danlos Hypermobility Type aren't getting any better. The first two weeks of Alignment Yoga Teacher Training have focused on what I figured out to survive: with proper alignment and strength the body can stabilize. Strength is the name of my game! . . . No doubt there are some zebras and spoonies out there struggling. To you I say: it's been 11 years since my diagnosis and I've come lightyears since then. Dig deep. Keep learning. Never surrender (except in meditation). . . . And I still have 2 weeks more! 🙌 . . . #EhlersDanlosSyndromes #EhlersDanlos #hEDS #spoonievictory #spoonie #spooniewellness #yogi #inversion #headstand #yoga #200ytt #alignmentyoga #lunaalignmentyoga @luna_alignment_yoga #strong #strongwoman #kohphagan #selflove #selfcareisselflove #nevergiveup
%d bloggers like this: