Atomic Habits by James Clear [6/10]

James Clear, with his book “Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones,” follows on from a wonderful 2012 bestseller I’ve personally used a lot, namely Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit.” The powerful idea behind both books is to address the psychological stages we go through when slave to a habit, either to promote a new, virtuous habit, or to kill a beastly habit. By breaking down habits into stages, we can, so the theory goes, more readily promote or kill them. Duhigg used three stages: cue, routine, reward. James Clear adds another one, ending up with cue, craving, response, and reward. He’s a deft writer of crystalline explanations and uses a marvellous array of supporting examples. Anecdotes from his own life also help. The book is well laid out, with excellent diagrams and charts. Again reverting to personal experience, I question whether any habit-forming or habit-breaking process can overcome lack of fundamental motivation, a point Clear acknowledges very early, but if you’re seeking a path forward to an optimal armoury of habits, this will be most useful reading. One of the few recent “how-to” books  that resonates freshly.

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