Book Review: Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives

better than before book coverBetter Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives,” Gretchen Rubin’s seventh book, tackles methods and strategies for intentionally examining and building habits that support our greater good rather than ruling our lives.

This is not a book about the science of the brain, nor does it try to provide evidence that we can indeed change our habitual behaviors. Rather, this book reveals the value of self-knowledge in relation to our habits. It is only through accurately understanding ourselves that we are able implement effective strategies to support our intentional behavior changes.

The foundation of Gretchen’s self-described “catalog of habit-forming strategies” lies in the Four Tendencies. By taking this short, no-cost quiz (click here) you’ll learn whether you are a:

  1. Upholder
  2. Questioner
  3. Obligor
  4. Rebel

From there, Gretchen takes us deeply into the various categories she’s identified in her article posted in this issue. The categories include:

  • Distinctions
  • Pillars of Habits
  • The Best Time to Begin
  • Desire, Ease and Excuses
  • Unique, Just Like Everyone Else

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? I was too at first. However, Gretchen lays it all out in her book. Her conversational style of writing is quite relaxed and personal, as if you were sitting in a big, comfortable, easy chair at a coffee shop having a chat about life. The stories and anecdotes are interesting and make for a book that is an easy read.

Having just finished this book and taken the quiz, I know that I’m an Obligor. Now, I plan to take a deeper look at the specifics of each of the categories and make note of where I fit within them. And since my brain is hardwired for creating order, I’ll probably set this up in an easy to read spreadsheet. Yep, you read that right!

I’m confident this self-knowledge will result in a different, more effective approach to building some new habits with intention.

My current crash course in the study of habits has been enlightening. I’ve learned so much about the science of the brain, which I find fascinating. The foundation has been laid, upon which I’ll layer these strategies and strive for progress not perfection – a belief I’ve maintained for years and one that Gretchen ascribes to as well.

Reviewer Recommendation: I liked this book and found it very helpful since my recent attempts at habit change have been met with resistance. I learned a lot about myself in this book. And I’ll use this self-knowledge to shift gears and approach my behavior changes differently, and hopefully more effectively. I hope you enjoy Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives,” as much as I did.

2 Responses to Book Review: Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives

  1. Sue Turner says:

    I am a big fan of Gretchen Rubin and really like this new book. In retirement it is sometimes easy to become lazy (especially in the winter). This book is helping me to get back some of my former good habits. There are excellent ideas for getting motivated.

    • Rita Graving says:

      I agree Sue! I thought it was both entertaining and informative. I really learned a lot about myself just in reading the book. I’m an Obliger – do you know what you are?? I thought The Happiness Project was really good too. Gretchen would make a great project manager (well she kind of is) she’s very analytical! Thanks for your comment. Hope you are enjoying!

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