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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2013
...then this book can change your life. It has helped me with true introspection and making active changes to lifelong bad habits. I heard Jeremy Dean (the author) being interviewed on NPR the other day about this book. After the interview, I ordered it immediately. Note - This book will only help you if you are willing to take an honest look inside of yourself and make necessary changes. Not an "overnight process", but I'm having major, positive changes within 2 weeks of reading it!
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2013
I love this book. Dean does a great job of translating research into practical guidelines for dealing with our own habits. I especially liked his treatment of habits as they apply to creativity and happiness. In addition, his blog is a goldmine of far-ranging takes on behavioral research.

As I also have a PhD in psychology, I appreciated the references at the end of the book, which give me the opportunity to dig into the professional literature to review findings for myself. This certainly won't be of much value to a lay person, but is a plus for me.

One particular bit of advice that I enjoyed was his suggestion to vary the way in which you engage in habitual behavior, so that the behavior remains interesting to you. One reason habits like exercising don't last forever is that they become boring.

An excellent contribution and one that should be on the bookshelves of most of us. Incidentally, I bought the Kindle edition, then the hard copy. The Kindle is great because it has hyperlinks that save you time going to references.
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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2013
I've long been fascinated with why people do what they do. Personally, I am constantly trying to improve my habits. Professionally, I coach people on improving theirs.

I found this book useful. Each night I looked forward to reading more (which happens with less than half of the books I read). The author covers the research behind our behaviors. And then explains how to apply this research to our lives. I took some notes while reading that I will refer back to often.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2014
This book makes some good points but is very bland throughout much of the book. I felt that reading Changeology: 5 Steps to realizing your goals and resolutions by John C. Norcross gave me relatively the same information but much better written and enjoyed its practicality much more. Both books are based off of hard research but Making Habits spends way too much time focusing on the research instead of the point which the research was used to draw out. It also has alot of useless information like devoting a whole chapter on raising awareness of how much time people spend on a daily basis on social media, checking emails, etc. The latter part of Making Habits, Breaking Habits does offer some practical advice but Changeology is much easier to implement, more simplified, and user friendly and will help you reach the same goal bc both books are aiming to help readers accomplish the same goals: make positive changes in their lives that lead to healthy and lasting habits.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I'm also a psychologist. This book is the best up to date book about breaking habits that I've read. Dean quotes research, new findings about brain structure and process, neurons and neural pathways from brain imaging, the newest understanding of how habits are made and unmade. The book is well written, clear, easy to "get."

Dean's book isn't hype, positive thinking hoopla, but down to earth, and realistic. It's not easy to make a habit. It's not speedy. It takes consistency, determination, commitment over time as you acquire a new better habit in the old habit's place. If you really want to do it, this book is the perfect guide. I recommend it highly.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2013
I've been following the author's blog for some time, so I was excited I heard about his book. He has a way of distilling research/science into very practical and readable terms, and the book is very heavily referenced and well organized. He does a great job of walking the reader through the issues of what habits are, why we have them, why they are hard to break, what features habits share and how they differ from each other. His focus at the end on happy, creative and healthy habits is inspiring.

I'm an addiction psychiatrist with a solid scientific understanding of habits, compulsions and behaviors, and I'm the author of ] and I found this to be a very accurate, helpful read. I'd strongly recommend it.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2013
I loved the format of the book. It wasn't simply this and that...but information based on study after study. I liked the fact that the author based information on studies that have shown links between his words and what really is happening. We think that we all know what is going on in our minds but this book makes us realize how little we really know about who we and how we came to be creatures of our habits. It made me think more about my daily life. Also made me realize that I can truly control my life...its all a matter of changing habits, one layer at a time.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2013
This book is so important because it illuminates the hidden processes that are at work within us; the thought patterns below the surface that are supposed to help us to live more effectively and sometimes end up sabotaging us instead. Great guidance on how to create lasting change by developing good habits, including why many resolutions fail and what to do to succeed.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The material provided is based on what Jeremy Dean learned from recent and extensive research on (a) how and why we form habits that are both book and bad, (b) the range of timeframe that process involves, (c) why it is so difficult to sustain good habits and break bad habits, and (d) what all this reveals about human nature that will help us to accelerate personal growth and professional development.

In essence, good and bad habits are repetitive patterns of thought and behavior. With regard to the aforementioned research, Dean observes, "Three characteristics have emerged: firstly, we perform habits automatically without much conscious deliberation. Secondly, habitual behaviors provide little emotional response by themselves. Thirdly, habits are strongly rooted in the situations in which they occur. We also know that they can vary considerably in how long they take to form. Questions remain. For example, how much control do we have over our habits? Do we control them or do they control us? If we want to make a change, how easy will it be? Dean addresses these and other questions, citing research revelations and what -- in his opinion -- these revelations suggest.

Here is Dallas near the downtown area, there is a farmer's market at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that same spirit, I offer a few brief excerpts that (I hope) will suggest the thrust and flavor of Dean's presentation of material.

o "The problem for making and breaking habits is that so much is happening in the unconscious mind. Since the unconscious is generally like the Earth's core, impenetrable and unknowable, we can't access it directly. This means that deeply held goals and desires can come into play without our realizing. Not only this, but our conscious intentions to change prove too weak in the face of the behaviors we perform efficiently and automatically, with only minimal awareness." (Page 50)

o "What we know about how humans react to virtual environments is still in its infancy, but we can be sure we will be offered up new online services tailor-made to engage our habits. In the battle between intention and habit, we need to be able to work out who is winning: who is master and who is slave." (127)

o "Assuming you're motivated, the first problem for any creative goal is coming up with the concepts to combine. Psychologists have found that using analogy is one handy way of finding concepts to set up in opposition; unfortunately, good analogies are hard to come by. Think about Einstein's vision of a man falling off a roof; it seems simple once you're heard it, but taken in the context of the highly complex problem [i.e. how gravity works], it was a master stroke. The key is envisaging the problem in a way that makes analogies easier to pick out." (203)

o "Many great creative geniuses over history have identified their weakness and addressed it. Often, it's distraction...So if your mind wanders when you should be analyzing the details of your problem, then, don't worry, you're in good company. Just remember that all these great minds [e.g. Charles Darwin, Marcel Proust, Arthur Schopenhauer] had to find a way to balance their playful and analytical sides to develop truly creative habits." (212)

o " Making or breaking a habit is really just the start. To develop a truly fulfilling and satisfying good habit, it's about more than just repetition and maintenance; it's about finding new ways to continually adjust and tweak habits to keep them new; to avoid mind wandering and less pleasurable emotional states that accompany it." (227)

Frankly, although I have read and then re-read this book and appreciate the importance of the information, insights, and counsel that Dean provides, I still need to become much more effective in terms of developing and then sustaining habits that are in my best-interest while avoiding or breaking those that are not. At least for me, that process will probably continue until the end of my life. I agree with Aristotle: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." I also believe that mediocrity, then, is not an act, but a habit. To a significant extent, our lives are defined by the consequences of the decisions we make...including decisions to do nothing.

It could also be said that our decisions determine patterns of attitude and behavior. In this context, I am reminded of Carol Dweck's observation that people tend to embrace one of two mindsets: growth or fixed. The former affirms almost unlimited potentiality; the latter denies it. That is what Henry Ford had in mind long ago when suggesting, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right."

When concluding his immensely sensible, indeed valuable book, Jeremy Dean suggests, "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." Yes, it really is that easy...and that difficult.
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32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2013
I was looking forward to reading this book, but I opened it to the chapter "Don't think. Just do it," and found such nonsense that I cannot take it seriously.

The author claims that flipping a light switch when one knows that the electricity is off is an example of the superstitious behavior Skinner's pigeons emitted in operant conditioning experiments. Superstitious behavior is the false association of a behavior with an environmental event (eg, wing-flapping causes a food pellet to drop). Flipping a light switch when the electricity is off is the failure of automatic processing as a consequence of environmental change. These are vastly different behaviors and concepts.

Incredibly, it appears also that the author takes seriously and literally the label "superstitious behavior" by asserting that pigeons are incapable of superstition and that he is smarter than a pigeon.

A cursory scan of other material in the book revealed additional instances of logical errors and misinformation. I applaud any book grounded in research: however, this author is prone to false interpretation of the research literature, despite claims that his material has been vetted by knowledgeable others. By no means do I believe that the author is intentionally misleading.
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