“By understanding how habits work, people have more tools to choose which ones they want and which ones they want to dismiss,” says Charles Duhigg. The New York Times writer recently published The Power of Habit, about the science of how habits form, but his interest in this topic came more than a decade ago.
While working as reporter in Iraq, he closely observed how one army major studied the habits of crowds in an effort to reduce rioting. After recognizing that food vendors placed within a busy plaza increased public gatherings (and potential problems) near dusk, the major met with the town’s mayor to suggest removing these vendors. Within weeks the crowds would gather, but quickly break apart as they discovered there was nowhere to eat.
Closer to home, Duhigg explains that 40% to 45% of what we do every day are habits. During our webcam conversation, Duhigg says that every habit has three components. He also shares how researching this topic is changing the way he lives his life and giving him the knowledge he needs to diagnose unhealthy patterns.