One of my goals for this year was to try to read more. I haven't been doing that well with it so far but I did manage to finish one book - Better Than Before Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives. In Better Than Before, author of the bestselling Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin suggests that "habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life" and that by changing our habits, we can change our lives. It's pointed out in the book that we repeat about 40% of our behaviors every day so that actually makes sense. Through in-depth research and personal observations, she explores how habits are formed and maintained while sharing strategies for making positive changes which she has personally tested out.
She readily acknowledges that what may work for one person many not work for another, thusly her solutions are not one size fits all. Rubin establishes that based upon how they react to expectations, most people fall into one of Four Habit Tendencies - Upholders who readily respond both to outer and inner expectations, Questioners who resist outer expectations and respond to inner expectations, Obligers who respond to outer expectations but resist inner expectations and Rebels who resist both outer and inner expectations. Through understanding ourselves, we can then determine which strategies would work best to help us with habits we want to adopt or conversely break.
Rubin lays out varying strategies within what she calls the Four Pillars of Habits: Monitoring, Foundation, Scheduling and Accountability. Within these strategies, she also discusses how one's tendency can affect how they work. Then she explores The Best Time to Begin with three strategies powered by new endeavors, new circumstances and new ideas : First Steps, Clean Slate and Lightning Bolt. In the section called Desire, Ease, and Excuses, she explores the clash of good habits versus an easy and pleasant life and offers strategies that can shape our habits by adjusting the amount of effort involved. By making our habits as enjoyable as possible, we can help ourselves succeed. The final section Unique, Just Like Everyone Else explores how we can learn about ourselves through our differences with others with the aim of being better able to shape our habits through a better understanding of ourselves. The book doesn't purport to have all the answers or tell you what habits you should be making/breaking but it does provide a foundation to help you modify your habits.
This book was both enlightening and helpful. I felt like I went on a journey of self-discovery through reading it. I figured out that I'm an Obliger who may find it difficult to form a habit, because they're the ones who often undertake habits for their own benefit, and Obligers do things more easily for others than themselves. Therefore I would do better in reforming my habits by linking them to some form of external accountability. I've implemented this with my goal to read more by checking out books I want to read from the library and I'm currently halfway through one of two books. Knowing that I have to return these books by a certain date has motivated me to pick up a book rather than something else which I usually end up doing and it's been working so far.
My favorite takeaway - "Perfection may be an impossible goal, but habits help us to do better. Making headway toward a good habit, doing better than before, saves us from facing the end of another year with the mournful wish, once again, that we'd done things differently."
I appreciated the personal approach, conversational voice and organization of the book. If you're looking to make a change in your life and have it stick, I think you might find Better Than Before to be a valuable resource. If you're curious to find out about your personal Tendency, you can take this quiz.
Do you have any good habits that you're looking to cultivate or a bad one you'd like to break?
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review courtesy of the BirchBox Book Club. No other compensation was provided and all opinions expressed are my own.