Good Habits, Bad Habits Book Summary - Good Habits, Bad Habits Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Good Habits, Bad Habits summary

Wendy Wood

The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick

4.5 (637 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood uncovers the science of how we form habits and shows practical ways for shaping our behavior to help us become our best selves. Wood describes how to rewire our neural pathways and cues through her findings.

Table of Contents

    Good Habits, Bad Habits
    Summary of 6 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 6

    Habits control our lives – whether we notice them or not.

    What are the first things you do when you wake up? If you’re like most people, your morning routine is probably fairly fixed. 

    You might just shower, dress, and hit the road. Or maybe you have to feed and dress your kids before you start your own day’s work. 

    Whatever the case, you probably didn’t actually decide to do many of the things you found yourself doing this morning. 

    There was no inner debate about whether to shower, or whether or not to make a coffee. Without any conscious thought, you just went ahead as you always do – showering, dressing, and brewing yourself a drink. In other words, you acted out of habit.

    The key message here is: Habits control our lives – whether we notice them or not.


    Whether it’s our morning routines or our exercise regimens, habits influence our behavior more than most of us know. So why do we so often overlook them? Because habits operate below the level of conscious thought.

    You see, habits differ from other mental processes, like decision-making and willpower. These occur at the conscious level of the mind. When you hem and haw about which cereal to buy, you’re fully aware of the thought process you’re experiencing – it’s a thoughtful cognitive process.

    Habits, on the other hand, work below the level of conscious awareness. They don’t really involve thought. Instead, they’re nonconscious repetitions of actions you’ve performed many times before.

    Many of the things we do from day to day – both good and bad – are habits. It’s habit that makes you signal before you turn. It’s habit that makes you kiss your spouse when you get home from work. And it’s habit that keeps you eating the junk food you’ve been meaning to cut down on for months.

    Recognizing the outsize role that habits play in our lives doesn’t strip us of agency, though. After all, habits are malleable – you can always lose the ones you don’t like and gain a few you do.

    In order to do that, however, we need to take a look at how habits work.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Good Habits, Bad Habits?

    Key ideas in Good Habits, Bad Habits

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Good Habits, Bad Habits about?

    Good Habits, Bad Habits (2019) lays out the workings of human habits, drawing on groundbreaking new research into the psychology of human behavior. Combining the insights of neuroscience and lab-based experiments, it shows how we can harness our habits to change our lives for the better.

    Good Habits, Bad Habits Review

    Good Habits, Bad Habits (2019) by Wendy Wood is an insightful book that explores the science behind our habits and how they shape our lives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Packed with compelling research and evidence, it offers practical strategies to help us understand and change our habits for the better.
    • Using a combination of real-life examples, experiments, and personal stories, the book provides a deep understanding of how habits influence our behavior.
    • With its fascinating insights into the psychology of habits, this book is anything but boring, engaging readers with every turn of the page.

    Best quote from Good Habits, Bad Habits

    Our lives could be very different if we took advantage of the emerging science on how, when, and why habits work.

    —Wendy Wood
    example alt text

    Who should read Good Habits, Bad Habits?

    • Ambitious planners who lack follow-through
    • Serial dieters trying to change their eating habits for good
    • Anyone trying to kick a stubborn bad habit

    About the Author

    Wendy Wood is a professor of psychology and business at the University of South Carolina. A world-leading expert in the psychology of habit, she has spent 30 years advancing her field, and has published over 100 academic articles over the course of her career.

    Categories with Good Habits, Bad Habits

    Book summaries like Good Habits, Bad Habits

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Good Habits, Bad Habits FAQs 

    What is the main message of Good Habits, Bad Habits?

    The main message of Good Habits, Bad Habits is that our habits play a crucial role in shaping our lives.

    How long does it take to read Good Habits, Bad Habits?

    The reading time for Good Habits, Bad Habits varies. The Blinkist summary can be read in a few minutes.

    Is Good Habits, Bad Habits a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Good Habits, Bad Habits is a worthwhile read. It provides valuable insights into the science of habits and how they impact our behavior.

    Who is the author of Good Habits, Bad Habits?

    The author of Good Habits, Bad Habits is Wendy Wood.

    What to read after Good Habits, Bad Habits?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Good Habits, Bad Habits, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Sleep Solution by W. Chris Winter
    • Get It Done by Ayelet Fishbach
    • Badass Habits by Jen Sincero
    • Mini Habits by Stephen Guise
    • Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean
    • Stop Checking Your Likes by Susie Moore
    • The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
    • The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma
    • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
    • 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness by Jim Rohn