Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick
  • Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick
  • Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick

Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick

by Jeremy Dean
     
 

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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 leading psychologist’s popular examination of one of the most powerful and underappreciated processes in the brain

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Overview

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 leading psychologist’s popular examination of one of the most powerful and underappreciated processes in the brain. Although people like to think that they are in control, the vast majority 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 occurs 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Agent: Danielle Svetcov, the Levine Greenberg Agency. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Self-help on establishing new daily routines. "The strange thing about habits," writes PsyBlog creator Dean (How to Be Creative, 2011) "is that because we perform them unconsciously, we aren't always aware exactly what they are." Using research on the subconscious as well as personal stories, the author demonstrates how we perform habits under three circumstances: in vagueness, which frees our minds to think about other, more important decisions; without emotion, as the more routine the habit, the less emotionally attached we are to the act; and as a rut, as we tend to repeat the same actions in the same situations, perpetuating the habit. Placing ourselves in new situations (a new job, school or home, for instance) helps break patterns, whether reaching for that extra cookie or lighting a cigarette with a cup of morning coffee. Acknowledging that not all habits are bad for us--e.g., implementing an exercise program into our week or eating healthier foods--Dean shows that self-control, a change in environment, and rethinking how we talk to ourselves about our likes and dislikes leads to permanent changes in our routine practices. "The challenge is to work out which habits keep leading to dead-ends and which habits lead to interesting new experiences, happiness, and a sense of personal satisfaction," he writes. Making changes does take longer than we may expect--no 30-day, 30-pounds-lighter quick fix--but by following the guidelines laid out by Dean, readers have a decent chance at establishing fulfilling, new patterns.
From the Publisher
The Bookseller, “Editor’s Pick,” 10/12/12
“Sensible and very readable…By far the most useful of this month’s New You offerings.”

Kirkus Reviews, 1/1/13
“Making changes does take longer than we may expect—no 30-day, 30-pounds-lighter quick fix—but by following the guidelines laid out by Dean, readers have a decent chance at establishing fulfilling, new patterns.”

Publishers Weekly, 12/10/12
“An accessible and informative guide for readers to take control of their lives.”

Bookworm Sez” syndicated review
“By helping us understand what makes us tick and why, author Jeremy Dean avoids platitudes and misty advice to give his readers the tools they need to stop being frustrated by change and lack thereof. He advocates patience and dispels a lot of myths about why we do the things we do (or don’t), explaining why our willpower fails us or why we find some habits easy to make. That’s helpful, and could make a fix that sticks…This book…would be advantageous to anyone who’s serious about changing behavior.”

Curled Up with a Good Book, 1/6/13
“Loaded with surprising information about the brain and human behavior, this book that lays out a strategy for taking charge of ourselves. We probably can’t beat all our habits forever, but Making Habits, Breaking Habits offers a battle plan that allows us to know the enemy and sometimes evade it.”

Philadelphia Tribune, 1/6/13
“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.”

Spirituality & Practice, 1/15/13
“[A] fascinating book…Dean demonstrates a knack for cutting through generalities and cutting to the heart of the matter. Making Habits, Breaking Habits will shed new light on your own private and public behavior and the many quests for change that you undertake in your everyday life.”

VIVmag.com, 1/17/13
“What really stands out in Dean’s book…is the insight behind habits and their unconscious nature and often, their benefits…Full of anecdotes and interesting studies, Making Habits, Breaking Habits is an engaging read.”

InfoDad.com, 1/17/13
“Dean argues convincingly that habits are essentially automatic pilots…The prescriptive part of self-help books is where many of them fall down. Dean’s is better than most…The book reads like one in which Dean primarily shares his own fascination with a variety of research projects of various kinds, pausing occasionally to relate this study or that back to the whole issue of forming and changing habits. And there is nothing wrong with being a bit discursive, especially when the underlying material is as interesting as much of it is here.”

DaySpa, January 2013
“Analyzes the phenomenon of habits, and breaks them down so they can be fully understood—and ultimately managed.”

Truth, January 2013
"Dean helps you understand the psychology behind your habits—both good and bad—and gives you the information you need to kick a bad habit and finally keep your New Year’s resolution.”

Bookviews.com, February 2013
"This is serious psychology and an often fascinating look at the way habits are formed, reinforced, and strengthened throughout our lives…Smoking, drinking, and comparable bad behaviors can be changed and this book can help anyone seeking to make that change.”

ForeWord Brain Pickings, 1/5/14
"Remarkably insightful and functionally helpful in its entirety.”

January Magazine, “Best Books of 2013,” 1/3/14
“Though Dean is currently working towards a doctorate in psychology, his voice is casual, friendly and smart. More importantly for a book of this nature, he knows how to break his material down and present it in a way that is not only logical, but also stays interesting and connected…An entertaining and deeply interesting book. And a huge bonus for some readers: it actually has the potential to totally change your life.”

Hudson Valley News, 1/15/2014
“This book is exceptionally reader-friendly.”

Sarasota Herald Tribune, 1/28/14
“[A] compelling new book.”

Grand Rapids Press, 12/20/15
“Written in a readable style, this could be just the info you need to make this year’s resolution stick.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738215983
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
01/01/2013
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Related Subjects

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
The Bookseller, “Editor’s Pick,” 10/12/12“Sensible and very readable…By far the most useful of this month’s New You offerings.”

Kirkus Reviews, 1/1/13“Making changes does take longer than we may expect—no 30-day, 30-pounds-lighter quick fix—but by following the guidelines laid out by Dean, readers have a decent chance at establishing fulfilling, new patterns.”
Publishers Weekly
, 12/10/12
“An accessible and informative guide for readers to take control of their lives.”

Bookworm Sez” syndicated review“By helping us understand what makes us tick and why, author Jeremy Dean avoids platitudes and misty advice to give his readers the tools they need to stop being frustrated by change and lack thereof. He advocates patience and dispels a lot of myths about why we do the things we do (or don’t), explaining why our willpower fails us or why we find some habits easy to make. That’s helpful, and could make a fix that sticks…This book…would be advantageous to anyone who’s serious about changing behavior.”

Curled Up with a Good Book, 1/6/13“Loaded with surprising information about the brain and human behavior, this book that lays out a strategy for taking charge of ourselves. We probably can’t beat all our habits forever, but Making Habits, Breaking Habits offers a battle plan that allows us to know the enemy and sometimes evade it.”

Philadelphia Tribune, 1/6/13“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.”
Spirituality & Practice, 1/15/13“[A] fascinating book…Dean demonstrates a knack for cutting through generalities and cutting to the heart of the matter. Making Habits, Breaking Habits will shed new light on your own private and public behavior and the many quests for change that you undertake in your everyday life.”
VIVmag.com, 1/17/13“What really stands out in Dean’s book…is the insight behind habits and their unconscious nature and often, their benefits…Full of anecdotes and interesting studies, Making Habits, Breaking Habits is an engaging read.”
InfoDad.com, 1/17/13“Dean argues convincingly that habits are essentially automatic pilots…The prescriptive part of self-help books is where many of them fall down. Dean’s is better than most…The book reads like one in which Dean primarily shares his own fascination with a variety of research projects of various kinds, pausing occasionally to relate this study or that back to the whole issue of forming and changing habits. And there is nothing wrong with being a bit discursive, especially when the underlying material is as interesting as much of it is here.”

DaySpa, January 2013 “Analyzes the phenomenon of habits, and breaks them down so they can be fully understood—and ultimately managed.”
Truth,
January 2013
 “Dean helps you understand the psychology behind your habits—both good and bad—and gives you the information you need to kick a bad habit and finally keep your New Year’s resolution.”

Read More

Meet the Author

Psychologist Jeremy Dean is the founder and author of the popular website "PsyBlog" (http://www.psyblog.co.uk), which is viewed by upwards of 1 million readers monthly. The site analyses—with wit, clarity, and erudition—psychological studies that are relevant to everyday life. Dean launched PsyBlog in 2004, when he noticed a dearth of smart, readable news for those who like psychological insights backed up by science. Read the world over, the site has been featured in BBC News, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, NPR, The Guardian, and The London Times.

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