Good Habits, Bad Habits Book Summary By Wendy Wood

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Good Habits, Bad Habits: A Comprehensive Guide to Creating Lasting Change in Your Life (2019) examines the psychology of human habits and provides an insightful look into how we can use them to our advantage.

It draws on cutting-edge research and lab-based experiments to provide readers with a deep understanding of the complex inner workings of human behavior.

The book explains in detail how our habits are formed and discusses practical ways to harness them as powerful tools for personal transformation.

Whether it's forming better relationships, increasing productivity or making healthier lifestyle choices, Good Habits, Bad Habits will help you make lasting changes that improve your life.

Good Habits, Bad Habits Book

Book Name: Good Habits, Bad Habits (The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick)

Author(s): Wendy Wood

Rating: 4.6/5

Reading Time: 17 Minutes

Categories: Personal Development

Author Bio


Wendy Wood is an esteemed professor of psychology and business at the University of South Carolina.

She is renowned in her field as a leading expert on the psychology of habit, having dedicated the past thirty years to her research and producing more than one hundred academic articles.

Given her sheer knowledge, her most recent book, "Good Habits, Bad Habits," promises to be a practical and insightful guide for better understanding why we do what we do.

Harnessing Habits: Why It’s Better To Work With Your Subconscious Than Against It

Harnessing Habits

We spend almost half of our lives on autopilot, engaging in habitual behaviors without really thinking about it.

So why not take control and use our habits to work for us? With Good Habits, Bad Habits by Natures Nutrition, you can learn how to make the most out of your daily routines.

This book provides cutting-edge research into the psychology of habit that will help you understand why uncertain rewards can be better than reliable ones; why self-control is misunderstood and overrated; and how long it takes to actually form a new habit.

You’ll also learn tips and tricks from people who have changed their own behavior and benefited from doing so.

Good Habits, Bad Habits includes actionable advice about understanding your habits, mastering your environment, recognizing external pressures and motivating yourself.

This is a great read for anyone who wants to gain more control over their life by making their habits work for them instead of against them.

Realizing The Power Of Habits: How We Automate Our Lives And Have Agency Over Our Routines

It’s time to understand the powerful role habits play in our lives.

Many of us go through our day on auto-pilot, without really thinking about what we’re doing – whether it’s taking a shower, eating breakfast or kissing our spouse when we get home from work.

What most of us don’t realize is that these are all habits we have developed over time and they have a significant influence on our behavior.

Every time you do the same thing, such as signaling before you turn or turning off the alarm clock, you’re engaging in habits that control your life—whether you’re aware of them or not.

Habits differ from other mental processes like decision-making because they occur at a nonconscious level – almost automatically.

That said, this doesn’t mean we can’t take steps towards developing habits that fit into and improve our lifestyle.

With some intentionality, we can break bad habits and learn new ones that will support us in leading happier, healthier lives.

Why You Need Habits And Not Just Self-Control For Lasting Change

Habits play a huge role in influencing our decisions and actions.

Generally, when we think about self-control as the only way to change our habits and lifestyle, it can be overwhelming and discouraging.

But luckily there’s another way!

Research has shown that forming beneficial habits is actually more effective in changing your lifestyle than relying on pure willpower or self-control – because habits are formed without conscious effort.

For example, one study observed how teens handled meditating and discovered that those who quickly formed a habit of meditating achieved the most success – not through communicating their self-control throughout, but by internalizing the habit of mindful practice.

This proves that habit influences our actions more strongly than self-control does – so if you want to stick to New Year’s resolution or any other meaningful goal, focus on forming habits instead.

With this understanding, it may become easier to reach your goals while also having fun at the same time!

How Our Environment Shapes Habits: Understanding Driving And Restrictive Forces


What you do on a regular basis is significantly influenced by your environment.

This means that the way that you live your life and what habits you develop can be determined or shaped by the environment around you.

Kurt Lewin, a German-American psychologist, believed that human behavior is determined by two types of forces – internal (fears, desires) and external (influences from the world around us).

He introduced the concept of a driving force, which encourages certain behaviors and ultimately shapes our habits.

An example of this is streaming a TV show – once one season ends automatically another one begins to start queuing.

This creates a driving force that makes it more likely for someone to binge watch tv shows.

On the other hand, there are also restrictive forces which inhibit specific actions – like laws against smoking in pubs and workplaces.

By making it less convenient to smoke they act as powerful deterrents and limit bad habits from forming.

It’s possible to use either driving forces or restrictive forces to influence behavior and alter habits – all you need to do is adjust your surroundings accordingly.

For example, if it’s hard for you to focus in your workspace because you find yourself constantly checking your phone then try putting it out of easy reach in a drawer or down at the bottom of your stationery pile – the added effort will make accessing your phone less desirable each time which gives you an opening for changing this habit.

You can also use driving forces where beneficial – such as leaving well-stocked fruit bowls on tables near you if trying to eat healthily so that healthy snacks are easily accessible whenever needed.

Your environment has a major effect on how much control over good habits vs bad ones have in your daily life – by understanding this concept better you can use both driving and restrictive forces to shape behaviors and form different habits!

How Long Does It Take To Form Habits? The Answer Might Not Be What You Think

If you’re serious about forming a good habit and replacing bad ones, then it’s likely that consistency is the key.

This has been demonstrated by research conducted by Dr.

Pippa Lally at the University of London, where students were tracked as they attempted to adopt new behaviors into their lives.

The results showed that repetition was essential for habits to stick, as it took some on average two months before automatically having a healthy drink every day and nine weeks for creating the habit of eating something healt hy.

Exercise was shown to take even longer, with an average 91 days for it to become habitual.

What’s clear from this research is that repeating an action consistently is fundamental in forming a habit.

This can be particularly relevant in situations where your desired behaviour conflicts with how you would usually act – although at first it may seem arduous and difficult, if you keep up with repeat performance eventually the desired behaviour will become autonomous, and your old habits will start to dissipate.

The Key To Making Habits Stick: The Power Of Uncertain Rewards And The Importance Of Timing

As outlined in the “Good Habits, Bad Habits” book summary, it’s essential to have a sense of reward when forming a new habit.

This is backed up by recent neuroscientific research; dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter crucial for experiencing reward, plays an important role in forming habits.

What’s more, not all rewards are equal when it comes to establishing these habits either.

In one study, pupils who played a challenging game performed better and kept playing for longer when the points they won were determined by the roll of a dice — meaning that uncertain rewards work best!

Another thing to bear in mind is that timing matters too.

The reward should follow the action as quickly as possible; far-off rewards merely motivate you but don’t actually help your habit take root.

So it’s best if you can find pleasure in the behavior you’re trying to cultivate — such as selecting tastier healthy meals or playing sport with friends.

To recap, when trying to build new habits, following up your actions with something rewarding will make all the difference!

How Habits Can Make Stress More Manageable


When life throws us a curve ball, we often find ourselves relying on our habits more than ever.

This is particularly true when we’re under stress.

Studies have found that even in times of intense pressure, our habitual actions hold strong and can help take some of the burden off of conscious thought processes.

For instance, researchers observed that university students were more likely to stick with their existing habits – good or bad – during exam seasons than non-exam weeks.

Students who typically ate healthy breakfasts were highly likely to do the same during stress-filled weeks, whereas those who had unhealthy eating habits were probably doing just the same.

This proves that it’s crucially important to build positive habits that we can rely on in times of stress, especially since negative ones will most likely be reinforced too.

Cultivating mindful routines and rewarding ourselves for sticking with them can be incredibly beneficial in helping us stick with them no matter what kind of chaos life throws our way.

Wrap Up

Good Habits, Bad Habits shows us that on a daily basis, many of our actions are outsourced to habits.

If we want to get the most out of our routines and the everyday activities that make up our lives, it is important that we develop positive habits and rid ourselves of bad ones.

The key to accomplishing this lies in three main points: rewards, repetition, and environment.

In order to transform negative habits into positive ones, we also need to take advantage of disruption.

Changing jobs or moving house shakes us out of our complacency and allows for new opportunities for growth as well as better control over our habits.

So next time there is a disruption in your life, use it as motivation to end bad habits and start new ones – with positivity!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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