In honor of the start of the New Year, and in recognition of the fact that millions of people around the world will embark today on their New Year’s Resolutions, I am re-blogging my review of Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. This book remains the gold standard for advice on how to cultivate habits for healthier, happier you!
(The other two of her books are reviewed on this blog as well https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/gretchen-rubin-part-1/ and https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/gretchen-rubin-part-2/)
One of my start-of-year traditions for the past several years has been to re-read one of Gretchen Rubin’s books on happiness during the first week of the year. These books never fail to offer profound insight into life and to re-energize my commitment to living better.
Please forgive my apparent laziness in re-posting: not only is it New Year’s Day, but it is also my birthday today. I have a stack of thirteen library books next to my bed, so I promise more books reviews starting next week. Happy New Year!
Originally posted October 1 2015…
In her most recent book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin offers us concrete ways to stop doing the things we we found out we want to stop (nagging, shouting when I’m in a hurry) and start cultivating the habits we want in our life (start a blog!)
Where her earlier two books focused on strategies Rubin tested in her own life, Better Than Before seeks to help readers find exact methods that will lead them to personal success in creating better, healthier habits. Identifying what we want to change is the easy part! What next? The book asks us to study our “Tendencies,” those idiosyncrasies and personal traits that guide our daily decisions (are you a morning person or night owl? do you like large groups or private activities? do you need to be accountable to others or are you good at self-monitoring?) to help us pick pathways to habit formation that suit us best. Know thyself! As the author wisely points out, a night owl who signs up for a 6am Spin class might find it hard to cultivate the habit of attending the class.
You can take Rubin’s quiz right now to find out your Tendency! http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2014/03/quiz-are-you-an-upholder-a-questioner-a-rebel-or-an-obliger/
Once we have sorted ourselves into our Hogwarts houses (or Four Tendencies, as it they are called in the book), Rubin peppers us with dozens of strategies we might employ to develop those good habits. We can find ways to schedule our good habits; monitor our progress; hold ourselves accountable; and identify the “loopholes,” or excuses, we are likely to use to block our path. The ideas outlined are practical and simple to start (regularly forget to take your vitamins? do it with the never-missed morning cup of coffee every day.) And the volume of ideas she presents means that we can discard any practice we feel certain will not work for us, and try the next!
As an unabashed Upholder who easily sticks to new habits and who is obsessed with keeping track of all of those habits on various calendars and apps, I love that the book confirms my instincts for staying on track. More importantly, I see the great wisdom of the book for people who are not Upholders and for whom how to create new routines can seem a mystery. A simple formula can be found! Set a goal + adjust for your tendency (the “variables” in your personality) + plan for ways around your weaknesses and excuses = and a successful routine of good habits can be created.
We can know ourselves, identify our excuses, track our progress, and end up with habits that make us happier, right now, today, by following Rubin’s examples and advice. And who doesn’t want that?