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Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books.  A few years ago, back when she was still writing The Happiness Project, I read Gretchen Rubin's blog, although I stopped somewhere in there because my blog list was too long.  I really enjoyed this book though, so I may have to go search her out again.

Rubin's premise in Better Than Before is that everyone falls into one of four personality types when it comes to dealing with expectations.  I'm an Obliger, which means I'm good with meeting external expectations, i.e. what other people expect of me, but I'm not so good at meeting internal expectations that I set for myself.

This means when I'm forming habits, I should be aware of this and give myself some sort of outward accountability.  Sometimes schedules and lists are enough; other times I might need other people.  This is why I can sometimes justify saying "no" to fast food because it's healthier for my husband and our budget, but I can't always resist a coffee/sugar drink for myself.

Throughout the rest of the book after introducing the personality types, she gives several methods for forming habits, because everyone is different.  Basically the point was to do some soul searching, and once you know yourself, you can figure out how to set yourself up for success.  There were a ton of examples, and judging from the book list in the back, everything is based on quite a bit of research, but it's such a conversational book that you don't notice the academia.

Here are a few of my favorite quotations from the book:

"It's simple to change habits, but not easy."

"Leisure must be entered on the schedule as its own activity; it's not something I get only when I have nothing else to do.  Because I always have something else to do."  Oh I need this reminder constantly.  I'm terrible at taking time for myself, even though I really want and need it.

"Stopping halts momentum, breeds, guilt, makes us feel bad about losing ground, and, worst of all, breaks the habit so that the need for decision making returns - which demands energy, and often results in making a bad decision."  This is why it's that much harder to get back into healthy eating and exercising habits for me after every baby.  Each time I've stopped my good habits, and I have to reform them.

"To be happy, even we non-monks need to make time for transcendent matters - such as beauty, creativity, service, faith - but too often these get pushed aside for more urgent demands, and life begins to feel empty and purposeless."

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