Like many people, I’m constantly battling bad habits and trying to replace them with better ones.
Sometimes I win the war, but at other times, my lizard brain kicks in and I continue on the path of least resistance…
Either seeking pleasure or avoiding pain.
To try and improve my existence on this little planet, I’ve scoured the literature on the topic and humbly present you with the 5 best books on habits that have helped me.
Hopefully, they help you too.
The Best Books on Habits
1. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
In Atomic Habits, James Clear offers readers a step-by-step guide on how to build better habits in their lives.
The book is based on the premise that our habits dictate our lives and that if we want to change our lives for the better, we need to change our habits.
Clear begins by discussing the science of habit formation, explaining how habits are formed and why they are so difficult to break.
He then provides readers with four principles of habit change that will help them create good habits and break bad ones.
Next, Clear offers a detailed plan for implementing these principles into your own life.
He provides specific tips for:
- Creating a habit-forming environment
- Starting small
- Setting goals
- Tracking progress
- Overcoming obstacles
Finally, Clear shares case studies from his own life and from other successful people who have used habits to achieve great things.
He also includes a chapter on how to maintain your habits over time – something we all need to work on.
Overall, Clear’s step-by-step approach is easy to follow and his advice is practical and effective.
If you’re looking for a transformation, this book is a great place to start.
2. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Like Atomic Habits, The Power of Habit is a comprehensive look at the science of habit formation and how to change bad habits into good ones.
Duhigg explores the neurological underpinnings of habit formation, as well as how habits are created and changed in both individuals and organizations.
He shares case studies of individuals and businesses who have successfully changed their habits, as well as providing readers with a step-by-step guide on how to create new, positive routines for themselves.
Duhigg begins the book by discussing the three elements of every habit:
He explains that most habitual behaviors are driven by subconscious cues, which can be anything from a certain time of day to a particular person or place.
The routine is the behavior itself, while the reward is what reinforces the habit (whether it’s a feeling of pleasure or simply avoiding pain).
Duhigg goes on to say that one of the best ways to change a bad habit is to identify its cue, routine, and reward and then substitute a new routine that delivers the same reward.
Next, Duhigg turns his focus to how habits are formed and changed in individuals.
He cites several studies on habit formation, including one conducted by researchers at Duke University who used brain imaging to track people’s neurological responses to unhealthy foods.
Duhigg argues that such biological processes can be used to help people break bad habits and form new ones; by understanding and harnessing the neuroscience of behavior change, people can eventually extinguish their old routines altogether.
The second section looks at how habits are formed in organizations, using case studies such as Starbucks and Target.
Duhigg observes that companies often develop rituals or routines that become habitual for their employees.
These habits can be helpful or harmful to the organization depending on their nature.
For example, Target’s habit of quickly processing customer purchases leads to faster checkout times and increased sales, while Starbucks’ habit of training employees to make complex coffee drinks leads to better customer service and higher profits.
Lastly, Duhigg provides readers with a step-by-step guide on how to create new habits for themselves.
He recommends starting small and focusing on one new habit at a time.
The key is to find a cue that will trigger your desired behavior (e.g., setting an alarm clock for 7am every morning as a cue to exercise) and then establish a routine that will allow you to complete the behavior (e.g., going for a run immediately after waking up).
Finally, find a reward that will reinforce the new behavior (e.g., feeling refreshed and energized after completing your run).
3. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by B.J. Fogg
Tiny Habits is a book by B.J. Fogg that discusses the concept of creating tiny habits in order to influence larger behavior changes.
Fogg believes that in order to make lasting change, it’s important to start small and gradually increase the difficulty of the habit over time.
He argues that tiny habits are more likely to stick because they’re easier to do and don’t require a lot of willpower or motivation.
Fogg uses a variety of case studies and examples to illustrate how tiny habits can be used to accomplish everything from losing weight to becoming more productive at work.
He also provides several tips for setting up and implementing your own tiny habits program.
Overall, Tiny Habits is an interesting read that provides a lot of useful information on how to create lasting change.
I love it because it’s so manageable – rather than setting yourself the seemingly impossible challenge of 100 push ups, simply do one every day and build from there.
View my summary of the book.
4. High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard
High Performance Habits is a book by Brendon Burchard that outlines habits that can lead to high performance.
The book is divided into three sections:
- Daily rituals
- Big goals
The mindset section focuses on developing the right attitude and beliefs in order to achieve success, including chapters on gratitude, visualization, and self-talk.
The daily rituals section covers the habits that should be practiced every day in order to create a successful routine covering topics such as exercise, nutrition, sleep, and productivity.
The big goals section discusses how to set and achieve long-term ambitions – comprising goal setting, time management, and stress management.
Overall, High Performance Habits is a comprehensive guide and one that makes a compelling argument that habits are the true bedrock of success.
5. The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits That Will Transform Your Life Before 8AM by Hal Elrod
The Miracle Morning is a book about productivity and self-improvement.
Elrod argues that most people are not productive because they do not take the time to focus on themselves.
He believes that if you start your day by taking care of yourself, you will be better equipped to face the challenges of the world.
The Miracle Morning is based on the idea that change is possible if you take small steps every day.
Elrod believes that if you can commit to following his morning routine for just 60 days, you will see a dramatic change in your life.
He outlines a six-step morning routine that he claims will help you become more successful. The steps are:
- Silence – taking the time to relax and clear your mind
- Affirmations – positive statements about yourself that can help boost your confidence
- Visualization – picturing yourself achieving your goals
- Exercise – getting your body moving first thing in the morning
- Reading – including some quality learning time each morning
- Journaling – recording your thoughts and feelings each day
Each section includes a description of the step, as well as tips on how to make it work for you.
Elrod provides plenty of examples, including stories from his own life and from other people who have followed the Miracle Morning routine.
The Miracle Morning offers a fresh perspective on productivity and self-improvement and if you are looking for a way to get more out of your day, this book could be for you.
See my summary here.
There you have it – after reading these recommendations, your bad habits should dissolve into the mists of time.
And if not? Well, practice is your friend.
Through reading these, I’ve cemented my exercise and meditation habits, so hopefully, they can do equally wonderful things for you.