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13 Books That Shine a Light on Habit Change

best habit changing books

Habits are behavior patterns we develop over time — sometimes consciously, and other times without realizing it. They can be both good and bad. And, often, the bad ones are hard to change.

Alcoholism and drug addiction are complex diseases, but treatment plans also focus on replacing negative habits with positive ones. Creating a new daily routine with healthy habits can help someone in recovery stay sober. Smoking, for example, is an addiction that’s tightly connected to daily habits. You may have a cigarette with your morning coffee, so drinking the coffee triggers a cigarette craving.

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Although it may seem hard, it’s possible to change habits if we want to. There’s also science behind it and approaches that are highly effective. These books shed a light on the processes that go into changing habits and how you can apply them to your own life.

Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking

Easy Way to Stop Smoking

Before writing his book, Allen Carr smoked 100 cigarettes a day. He made the decision to quit and dedicated his time to helping others learn his techniques. In “Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking,” the author outlines his methods, which include ways to reframe the way you think about smoking.

Quit Smoking Today Without Gaining Weight

Quit Smoking Today Without Gaining Weight

One of the biggest worries over quitting smoking is weight gain. Many people dull cravings by snacking more. Paul McKenna, PhD, is an author known for his personal transformation tips. In “Quit Smoking Today Without Gaining Weight,” he explains how to retrain your mind to believe you don’t need cigarettes. The book also comes with a downloadable hypnosis session.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a business best seller that’s been on the shelves for over 25 years. Author Stephen Covey stresses that success comes from being able to manage both personal and professional life well. He highlights seven habits that, if adopted, will help with both. But first, Covey explains how to change the way you view and evaluate the world.

Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness

127 Small Changes

Small changes can make a big impact over time. Habit stacking is a strategy to build new habits by making them part of one routine. “Habit Stacking” features 127 small changes that focus on areas like health, career, weight loss, productivity, relationships, and finances. There are also steps for adding habits into a routine and sample routines to try.

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Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself

Think you’re stuck with the same thought patterns and philosophies for life? Dr. Joe Dispenza wants you to think again. “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” offers a step-by-step guide to making changes in different aspects of your life. Dispenza, who studied biochemistry, blends spirituality with science by using meditation techniques and drawing on neuroscience to create a program for habit change.

The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit

The Little Book of Big Change

Psychologist Amy Johnson views bad habits as addictions that can be stopped by rewiring your brain. Her book “The Little Book of Change” explains how habits form and what you can do to form new pathways in your brain, putting those bad habits to an end. Johnson lays out a series of suggestions of small changes to make in daily life.

52 Small Changes for the Mind

52 Small Changes for the Mind

Most people can’t handle several big changes at once, but adding small ones over time can stick. “52 Small Changes for the Mind” focuses on tackling one small and doable challenge each week. Once you get that down, you can move to the next. The book also includes research on habit change and charts and worksheets to keep you on track.

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

Making Habits, Breaking Habits

Sometimes habits are formed without us even realizing it. We can get into a regular routine and that can continue for years. In “Making Habits, Breaking Habits,” psychologist Jeremy Dean explains the science behind forming habits and how you can learn to take control of the process to steer yourself toward the habits you want to build.

Smart Change: Five Tools to Create New and Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others

smart change

It can be easy to overthink things when you’re trying to make changes. Author Art Markman, PhD, a professor of psychology and marketing and adviser to many major companies, believes there are five tools to change your habits and influence others. In “Smart Change,” he explains how these five tools can be applied to a variety of habits — from eating and exercising to learning and selling to customers.

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Power of Habit

Ever wonder why advertisements get stuck in your head or you feel like you have to have something? A lot of research goes into ad campaigns and other forms of entertainment. In “The Power of Habit,” business reporter Charles Duhigg shares his findings on how businesses and organizations capitalize on human nature and use it to bring about desired habits. He also explains how you can use this information to create your own habits.

Essential Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change, Briefly

Essential Zen Habits

In order to change a bad habit, you have to be aware of it first. “Essential Zen Habits” uses mindfulness techniques to help you get in touch with yourself and learn how to change behaviors. The book offers a six-week program and gives direct instructions for how to complete each phase.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life

When many people think of habits, they think of eating, exercise, or some action that’s part of your daily routine. But you can also have mental habits, like behavior patterns linked to anxiety and depression. “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” focuses on training your thinking patterns to improve mental health. The book is full of “brain prescriptions” to help reduce symptoms of anxiety, panic, anger, depression, and obsessiveness.

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Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently

Small Move, Big Change

New Year’s resolutions don’t stick because our brains aren’t wired to make big, broad changes that are totally outside of our regular routine. After a while, we slip back into old habits. “Small Move, Big Change” shows you how to break these bigger goals into small, actionable changes. The book includes a combination of real-world examples and scientific findings to explain how microresolutions work.



We pick these items based on the quality of the products, and list the pros and cons of each to help you determine which will work best for you. We partner with some of the companies that sell these products, which means Healthline may receive a portion of the revenues when you buy something using the links above.

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