Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick

Jeremy Dean, Author
Jeremy Dean. Da Capo Lifelong, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7382-1598-3
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-306-82262-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4690-8692-7
Ebook - 275 pages - 978-0-7382-1608-9
Paperback - 275 pages - 978-1-85168-989-7
Ebook - 343 pages - 978-1-78074-217-5
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In the epigraph to this examination of habitual behavior, Montaigne describes habit as a “violent and treacherous schoolmistress”; but though we are all her pupils, Dean opines that we have a say in what goes on in the classroom. In an effort to get readers to be more aware of their habitual behavior and therefore better able to guide it to productive ends, Dean, a psychologist and the founder of PsyBlog (where he writes on an assortment of psychology-related topics for professionals and laypeople alike), addresses the numerous stages of habits—how they’re formed, indoctrinated, maintained, and changed. Although some habits, good or bad, obviously stem from intention (e.g., exercise or smoking), many are the products of unconscious processes that rarely surface long enough to be dealt with. As such, Dean elucidates mindfulness techniques to refocus bad habits and demonstrates methods to establish and retain good habits. What unifies all of the techniques is the understanding that habits, regardless of their origin, take work and motivation to control. Supplemented with analyses of contemporary research and case studies, Dean’s is an accessible and informative guide for readers to take control of their lives. Agent: Danielle Svetcov, the Levine Greenberg Agency. (Jan.)
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