The Science of Making Positive Changes that Stick
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The nuances of creating a proactive, positively charged habitual life.

Wood (Psychology and Business/Univ. of Southern California) has spent her career amassing research material to support theories that human behavior is best controlled with habitual repetition rather than willpower and good intentions, which are often not nearly enough to shift everyday activity. The author believes that in order to change behavior, the mechanics of habit formation must be understood first. Wood persuasively instructs readers with an informative amalgam of data, graduate training experiments, and psychological theories on conscious thought and rewiring desire and mannerisms. She notes that the same learning mechanisms responsible for bad habits also control good ones. “Going to the gym regularly and smoking a couple of cigarettes a day are the same,” she writes, with the difference being how our habitual selves perceive and strive for personal goals. Wood notes that recent scientific studies reveal just how difficult human behavior is to change over the long term, but this data is also arming people with better game plans to disrupt the forces behind destructive patterns. Perhaps the most practical aspect of the book is the focus on functional tools and principles to interrupt and overcome the kinds of habits that prevent people from attaining more fruitful livelihoods and overall contentment. It is possible to achieve what she calls a “habit life” free from negative influences through the systematic replacement of poor habits with new ones that are beneficial and become just as familiar and comfortable. She instructs readers to disable the compulsive cues that engage such potentially bad behavior as overeating, distracted driving, and online shopping. When applied to real-life situations and acknowledged by readers seeking true behavioral reengineering, her research and valuable perspectives offer both hope and the possibility for a more manageable, productive life. A practical and cautionary story about how to break the cellphone habit concludes this intelligent assessment with encouragement.

A timely, essential guide to understanding and molding our behaviors to achieve better results in our ever changing lifestyles.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-15907-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2019