36 Life Changing Charles Duhigg Quotes on Habits

Updated: Jul 28

Birth : 1974, New Mexico, US


Charles Duhigg; the author of The Power of Habit, about the science of habit formation in our lives, companies and societies, and Smarter Faster Better, about the science of productivity. He was a reporter at the New York Times for a decade, writing such series as “The iEconomy” which focused on Apple and won a Pulitzer prize for explanatory reporting in 2013.


Also a native of New Mexico Charles Duhigg, studied history at Yale and received an MBA from Harvard Business School. He has appeared on This American Life, N.P.R., The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and Frontline. Before becoming a journalist, he worked in private equity and was a bike messenger in San Francisco.


Currently, Charles Duhigg write books and magazine articles for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and The Atlantic.



“This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: THE HABIT LOOP” /Charles Duhigg
“Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” /Charles Duhigg
“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.” /Charles Duhigg
“Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.” /Charles Duhigg
“Champions don’t do extraordinary things,” Dungy would explain. “They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.” /Charles Duhigg


“It wasn’t God that mattered, the researchers figured out. It was belief itself that made a difference. Once people learned how to believe in something, that skill started spilling over to other parts of their lives, until they started believing they could change. Belief was the ingredient that made a reworked habit loop into a permanent behavior.” /Charles Duhigg
“This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.” /Charles Duhigg
“That’s why signing kids up for piano lessons or sports is so important. It has nothing to do with creating a good musician or a five-year-old soccer star,” said Heatherton. “When you learn to force yourself to practice for an hour or run fifteen laps, you start building self-regulatory strength. A five-year-old who can follow the ball for ten minutes becomes a sixth grader who can start his homework on time.” /Charles Duhigg
“As people strengthened their willpower muscles in one part of their lives—in the gym, or a money management program—that strength spilled over into what they ate or how hard they worked. Once willpower became stronger, it touched everything.” /Charles Duhigg
“Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.” /Charles Duhigg


“Whether selling a new song, a new food, or a new crib, the lesson is the same: If you dress a new something in old habits, it’s easier for the public to accept it.” /Charles Duhigg
“Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage.” /Charles Duhigg
“Simply giving employees a sense of agency- a feeling that they are in control, that they have genuine decision-making authority - can radically increase how much energy and focus they bring to their jobs.” /Charles Duhigg
“...hiding what you know is sometimes as important as knowing it...” /Charles Duhigg
“There's a natural instinct embedded in friendship, a sympathy that makes us willing to fight for someone we like when they are treated unjustly.” /Charles Duhigg


“There’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.” /Charles Duhigg
“If you want to do something that requires willpower—like going for a run after work—you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day,” /Charles Duhigg
“Good leaders seize crises to remake organizational habits.” /Charles Duhigg
“Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.” /Charles Duhigg
“Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes. A huge body of research has shown that small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves. “Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage,” one Cornell professor wrote in 1984. “Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win.”4.14 Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.” /Charles Duhigg


“This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives.” /Charles Duhigg
“It is facile to imply that smoking, alcoholism, overeating, or other ingrained patters can be upended without real effort. Genuine change requires work and self-understanding of the cravings driving behaviours.” /Charles Duhigg
“Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not.… Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.”5.2” /Charles Duhigg
“But to change an old habit, you must address an old craving. You have to keep the same cues and rewards as before, and feed the craving by inserting a new routine.” /Charles Duhigg
“Habits can be changed, if we understand how they work.” /Charles Duhigg


“When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will unfold automatically.” /Charles Duhigg
“I love Paul O'Neill, but you could not pay me enough to work for him again" one official told me. "the man has never encountered an answer he can't turn into another twenty hours of work.” /Charles Duhigg
“A company with dysfunctional habits can’t turn around simply because a leader orders it. Rather, wise executives seek out moments of crisis—or create the perception of crisis—and cultivate the sense that something must change, until everyone is finally ready to overhaul the patterns they live with each day.” /Charles Duhigg
“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits,” William James wrote in 1892.prl.2 Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little” /Charles Duhigg
“I think I'm smart, and I know I was a good mom. But there wasn't a lot I could point to and say, that's why I'm special.” /Charles Duhigg



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