Happy Habit-ing.

A short critique of Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before

Review 5. Written by SnapDragon X.

New Day, 2019. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved.

Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before (2015)

Hi friends!

For my nonfictional read this past month I decided to explore the psychology behind habit formation in Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before. This book had been perched on my shelf for awhile, and as I found myself on the cusp of starting back to work, it seemed like a perfect time to crack it open.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve read some of Rubin’s other works. The Happiness Project helped me through one of my most difficult years of teaching; Happier at Home was an enjoyable read as well. While her subject matter may appear prosaic, Rubin has a way of organizing and articulating the quirks of human personality that I always appreciate. Her books always leave me with a healthy dose of self-reflection.

This book did not disappoint.

Rubin begins by separating human habit into “The Four Tendencies”, which are assigned to four distinct types of people, in regard to their habit formation:

Upholder: Meets outer expectations; meets inner expectations

Rebel: Resists outer expectations; resists inner expectations

Questioner: Resists outer expectations; meets inner expectations

Obliger: Meets outer expectations; resists inner expectations


The rest of the book explores these personality types, and the many pitfalls each one encounters.

All too frequently I found myself thinking, “Me too!” when I read about how we justify our bad habits (Don’t I deserve a treat?) and delay the good ones (I already ate a donut today, so I’ll start eating healthy tomorrow).

Anyway, it’s worth a read. It’ll leave you scrutinizing your own habits, and call into question how you spend your time.

How can I improve? How can I achieve my goals?

These are questions worthy of asking.

Once again, Rubin encourages us to keep searching for a healthier, happier life.

And who doesn’t appreciate that?


𝙱𝚛𝚊𝚒𝚗 𝙳𝚞𝚖𝚙, 𝚈𝚘.

𝙰𝚑𝚑. 𝚃𝚒𝚖𝚎 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚊𝚗𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝙱𝚛𝚊𝚒𝚗 𝙳𝚞𝚖𝚙, 𝚏𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚗𝚍𝚜.

𝙸𝚝 𝚖𝚊𝚢 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚊 𝚐𝚛𝚘𝚜𝚜 𝚗𝚊𝚖𝚎, 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝚒𝚝’𝚜 𝚊 𝚟𝚊𝚕𝚞𝚊𝚋𝚕𝚎 𝚎𝚡𝚎𝚛𝚌𝚒𝚜𝚎 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚊𝚗 𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚔𝚒𝚗𝚐, 𝚗𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝𝚖𝚊𝚛𝚎-𝚙𝚛𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚒𝚗𝚍𝚒𝚟𝚒𝚍𝚞𝚊𝚕 𝚜𝚞𝚌𝚑 𝚊𝚜 𝚖𝚢𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚏.

𝚂𝚘 𝚕𝚎𝚝 𝚞𝚜 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚘𝚗 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚒𝚝:

• 𝙸’𝚟𝚎 𝚍𝚎𝚌𝚒𝚍𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚘 𝚐𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚖𝚢𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚏 30-𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚞𝚝𝚎 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚔𝚘𝚞𝚝𝚜. 𝙽𝚘 𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚎, 𝚗𝚘 𝚕𝚎𝚜𝚜. 𝙸’𝚖 𝚓𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚐𝚘𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚝𝚘 𝚑𝚘𝚙 𝚘𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚝𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚍𝚖𝚒𝚕𝚕, 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚊 𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚝𝚕𝚎 𝚖𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚖𝚎𝚗𝚝 𝚒𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚜𝚎 𝚕𝚎𝚐𝚜, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝚐𝚘 𝚊𝚋𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚖𝚢 𝚍𝚊𝚢. 𝚂𝚞𝚛𝚎𝚕𝚢 𝙸 𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚑𝚊𝚗𝚍𝚕𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝.

• 𝚆𝚎 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚝𝚘 𝚍𝚘 𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚎 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚙𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚎𝚝. 𝙸’𝚖 𝚐𝚎𝚝𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚜𝚌𝚊𝚛𝚎𝚍. 𝙸 𝚖𝚎𝚊𝚗, 𝚠𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚠𝚎 𝚍𝚘𝚗𝚎? 𝙸 𝚜𝚑𝚞𝚝𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚊𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚘𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚠𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚒𝚜 𝚋𝚎𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚋𝚜𝚘𝚛𝚋𝚎𝚍 𝚒𝚗𝚝𝚘 𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚜𝚔𝚒𝚗, 𝚒𝚗𝚝𝚘 𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚕𝚞𝚗𝚐𝚜. 𝚃𝚑𝚎 𝚍𝚊𝚖𝚊𝚐𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚍𝚘𝚗𝚎, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚒𝚝’𝚜 𝚐𝚎𝚝𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚜𝚎. 𝙸 𝚖𝚊𝚢 𝚘𝚗𝚕𝚢 𝚋𝚎 𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚙𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚘𝚗, 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝙸 𝚊𝚒𝚖 𝚝𝚘 𝚋𝚎 𝚊𝚗 𝚎𝚗𝚟𝚒𝚛𝚘𝚗𝚖𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚢-𝚌𝚘𝚗𝚜𝚌𝚒𝚘𝚞𝚜 𝚘𝚗𝚎. 𝙳𝚘 𝚠𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚌𝚊𝚗, 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚌𝚊𝚗.

• 𝙸’𝚖 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚜𝚞𝚛𝚎 𝚠𝚑𝚘 𝙸 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎 𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚎: 𝚂𝚝𝚎𝚙𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝙺𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚘𝚛 𝙹𝚘𝚑𝚗 𝚂𝚝𝚎𝚒𝚗𝚋𝚎𝚌𝚔. 𝙸 𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚖 𝚋𝚘𝚝𝚑 𝚒𝚗 𝚑𝚒𝚐𝚑 𝚜𝚌𝚑𝚘𝚘𝚕, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚌𝚘𝚗𝚜𝚒𝚍𝚎𝚛 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚖 𝚝𝚒𝚎𝚍 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚖𝚢 𝚊𝚕𝚕-𝚝𝚒𝚖𝚎 𝚏𝚊𝚟𝚘𝚛𝚒𝚝𝚎 𝚊𝚞𝚝𝚑𝚘𝚛𝚜. 𝙸𝚗𝚌𝚛𝚎𝚍𝚒𝚋𝚕𝚎.

• 𝚆𝚘𝚛𝚛𝚢 𝚒𝚜 𝚠𝚊𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚏𝚞𝚕. 𝙸𝚝 𝚍𝚘𝚎𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝚛𝚊𝚒𝚜𝚎 𝚖𝚢 𝚋𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚍 𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚞𝚛𝚎. 𝚂𝚘, 𝙸’𝚖 𝚟𝚘𝚠𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚝𝚘 𝚋𝚎 𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚎 𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚎𝚗𝚝 𝚒𝚗 𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚑 𝚖𝚘𝚖𝚎𝚗𝚝. 𝙰𝚗𝚢 𝚙𝚛𝚘𝚋𝚕𝚎𝚖𝚜 𝚍𝚎𝚜𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚘 𝚏𝚒𝚗𝚍 𝚖𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝚍𝚘 𝚜𝚘. 𝙸 𝚖𝚊𝚢 𝚊𝚜 𝚠𝚎𝚕𝚕 𝚎𝚗𝚓𝚘𝚢 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚝𝚒𝚖𝚎𝚜 𝚘𝚏 𝚙𝚎𝚊𝚌𝚎.

𝙰𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚠𝚎 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚒𝚝. 𝙰𝚗𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚍𝚊𝚢 𝚍𝚘𝚗𝚎.

𝙼𝚊𝚢 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚊 𝚠𝚊𝚛𝚖 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚠𝚘𝚗𝚍𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚜 𝚜𝚕𝚎𝚎𝚙, 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎.


𝚆𝚑𝚊𝚝’𝚜 𝚘𝚗 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚍, 𝙳𝚎𝚊𝚛 𝚁𝚎𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚛?

𝙶𝚘 𝚊𝚑𝚎𝚊𝚍; 𝚕𝚎𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚊 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚖𝚎𝚗𝚝.

𝚈𝚘𝚞 𝚖𝚊𝚢 𝚓𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚏𝚎𝚎𝚕 𝚋𝚎𝚝𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚝𝚘 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚘𝚜𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚘𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚝𝚜 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚒𝚗𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚟𝚘𝚒𝚍.

𝙻𝚎𝚝’𝚜 𝚋𝚎 𝚏𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚗𝚍𝚜.


𝖫𝖾𝗍 𝗆𝖾 𝖿𝗂𝗇𝖽 𝗉𝖾𝖺𝖼𝖾.

𝖫𝖾𝗍 𝗆𝖾 𝖿𝗂𝗇𝖽 𝖺 𝗌𝗈𝖿𝗍 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝗌𝗈𝗈𝗍𝗁𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝗌𝗂𝗅𝖾𝗇𝖼𝖾.

𝖫𝖾𝗍 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝗁𝗈𝗎𝗋𝗌 𝖺𝗁𝖾𝖺𝖽 𝗉𝗋𝗈𝖽𝗎𝖼𝖾 𝗆𝖺𝗇𝗒 𝗉𝗅𝗎𝗆𝗉 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝗉𝗅𝖾𝗇𝗍𝗂𝖿𝗎𝗅 𝗉𝗂𝖼𝗄𝗌.

𝖳𝗁𝖾 𝗏𝗂𝗇𝖾 𝗂𝗌 𝗌𝗉𝗋𝗈𝗎𝗍𝗂𝗇𝗀, 𝖼𝗎𝗋𝗅𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝖼𝗎𝗋𝗂𝗈𝗎𝗌𝗅𝗒 𝗂𝗇 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝗌𝗎𝗇.

𝖨𝗍’𝗌 𝗁𝖾𝗋𝖾; 𝗂𝗍’𝗌 𝖺𝗅𝗂𝗏𝖾.

𝖠𝗇𝖽 𝗌𝗈 𝖺𝗆 𝖨.