Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Posted July 23, 2015 by shooting in Uncategorized / 13 Comments

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Blogging for Books; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: The author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, tackles the critical question: How do we change?

Gretchen Rubin’s answer: through habits.
Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work
to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy
of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.

So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits?

Better than Before
answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to
allow readers to understand their habits—and to change them for good.
Infused with Rubin’s compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy
humor, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better than Before explains the (sometimes counter-intuitive) core principles of habit formation.

Along the way, Rubin uses herself as guinea pig, tests her theories on
family and friends, and answers readers’ most pressing questions—oddly,
questions that other writers and researchers tend to ignore:

• Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do?
• Sometimes I can change a habit overnight, and sometimes I can’t change a habit, no matter how hard I try. Why?
• How quickly can I change a habit?
• What can I do to make sure I stick to a new habit?
• How can I help someone else change a habit?
• Why can I keep habits that benefit others, but can’t make habits that are just for me?

Review: I have become really interested in nonfiction books lately, but I like to focus on the ones that read a bit like fiction. Better than Before definitely fits that category because it’s almost half research/half memoir. Rubin’s book is all about habits and trying to figure out why some people can form them easily while others cannot, among other questions. It does seem interesting that you can make habits for certain aspects of your life (perhaps brushing your teeth every night) but it’s more difficult to exercise everyday or even read a certain amount of pages everyday. Sometimes fun things can be difficult to turn into a habit.

Throughout the book, Rubin uses her own ideas to experiment with her life and people she knows to see what habit forming techniques work best. I love that this is full of first hand accounts and how Rubin helps place people into one of four different categories (more on that below). There is a quiz in the back of the book to help tell you what Tendency you are, and once you know this, it will hopefully help you figure out how to make your habits work. I would suggest taking the quiz before reading the book (I did not) because once you have an idea of where you stand, you can read Rubin’s examples and experiments with a fresher take on how it works for you.

Besides these Four Tendencies (Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel), there are other types of “people” and ways that people behave that Rubin focuses on to help people figure out how to make better habits for themselves and to then keep these habits. One example would be a Moderator and an Abstainer – this means that sometimes it’s easier for people to Abstain totally from something than to Moderate it. A good example would be giving up chocolate bars. If you’re a Moderator, you can choose good times to eat a bit of a chocolate bar and that works for you. An Abstainer has to give up chocolate bars all together or they feel deprived. I thought this section was really interesting, and for me, I think I’d have to be an Abstainer for the most part because moderating can be difficult for me.

This was definitely an intriguing book and I feel like I learned a lot. I would suggest checking it out!

13 responses to “Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

  1. I love that she has ideas to help make your habits actually stick! This sounds super interesting and helpful! Now I want to know which category I fit into. 😛

  2. This book sounds really helpful! I'd love to make it a habit for me to excursive consistently and eat healthy. I am definitely an abstainer as well. I might have good intentions to eat a bite or two of a candy bar, but I would end up eating the whole think. Great Review! I'm interested in checking this book out!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

  3. I really should try to read more non-fiction this year. I've seen a review of this book somewhere, and it seems to be a helpful book. Trying to get rid of bad habits can be tough.

  4. It's interesting to do things like that in a book but in a whole I confess that I don't really read a lot of non fiction, I have some but I did read mainly about war. I have some about relationships too.

  5. How curious. I know what you mean about reading like a work of Fiction versus hardcore nonfiction. Can help make the journey a bit smoother, less lecture-like. Thanks for the share!

  6. I think I heard somewhere that it takes a month to break a habit, and longer for some others. I have a few I would like to get rid of for sure,like that whole procrastination thing should be a goner. Thanks for sharing this book, I like the whole premise behind it and it sounds like an interesting read as well!

  7. I've been reading a lot of non-fiction too, and I agree that the storytelling needs to be alluring and not read so much as a speech so to speak. Better than Before piques my interest though, I am curious to know what tips or advice the author presents on the subject at hand. Great review!

  8. This does sound interesting. I like the idea of it being partly a memoir and written out of her own experience. And I'm definitely an abstainer — I did give up chocolate some years ago and it was easier to go cold turkey!

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