A short critique of Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before
Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before (2015)
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?