Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick

Wendy Wood

Why we love it: Nobody knows more about the science of habit than Wendy Wood. In this personal, practical book, she explains how to apply the research to your daily life by automating the behaviors you want and replacing the ones you don’t.

From page 232:
Living with your habit self will allow you to realize how much of you works in ways unbidden by your surface-level impulses and wishes. You contain depths. You can put those depths to work for you.

The principles you have learned make it easier to identify habits in all their varied forms. Bad habits then stop being impossible sinkholes in our lives and start being tractable challenges, ready to be faced and solved. Your good habits will no longer be inherent emanations of some mysterious essential character, and will become recognizable for what they are. Even better, they’ll start to look like patterns on which you can build other, newer, better habits.

More than this, understanding habits normalizes the trials of changing behavior. The distance between repeated failure and enduring, successful change is not marked by personal fortitude or determination. It is not a referendum on your personal worth. Even with amazing stamina, you can still fail. Instead, you cover that distance through simple steps, such as organizing contexts around you to encourage enjoyable actions that meet your long-term goals. This is what those markedly successful people with seemingly high “self-control” already do. Like them, you can engage the help of supportive context cues. You can repeat actions sufficiently to form new habits that become the familiar norm. You can form habits that continue even when you are no longer experiencing the rewards.

This is the promise of a habit life well lived.