Sunday, August 13, 2017

Book Review: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives (2015) by Gretchen Rubin

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives (2015)
by Gretchen Rubin

I think the book can be summaries in three sentences: #1 "A behaviour becomes a habit when it no longer requires a decision from you"; #2 "To change a habit effectively, you need to understand your ‘tendency’"; and #3 "Scheduling is one of the most effective ways to building better habits".

About the "tendency", Gretchen Rubin divides people into 4 kind of tendencies:

§  #1 Upholders. Respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.
§  #2 Questioners. Question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified.
§  #3 Obligers. Respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations (my friend on the track team).
§  #4 Rebels. Resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. The Five Big Ideas

I'm more to Questioner and Rebel, but sometime an Upholder. Identify which tendency am I majoring now is important for me to understand myself and thus it will affect how I create good habits and stop bad habits. Gretchen Rubin writing is very interesting: lots of examples, useful practical advises and the way she presented her researches is amazing and simple. Here are some of my favourite quotes:

"The biggest waste of time is to do well something that we need not do at all.”

"I should pursue only those habits that would make me feel freer and stronger.”

“We won’t make ourselves more creative and productive by copying other people’s habits, even the habits of geniuses; we must know our own nature, and what habits serve us best.”

“There's a great satisfaction in knowing that we've made good use of our days, that we've lived up to our expectations of ourselves.”

“The desire to start something at the 'right' time is usually just a justification for delay. In almost every case, the best time to start is now.”

“In the chaos of everyday life, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters, and I can use my habits to make sure that my life reflects my values.”

“How we schedule our days is how we spend our lives.”

“I should make one healthy choice, and then stop choosing.”

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it. —Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, Wind, Sand and Stars”

I don't know of any season in a person's long life when we aren't trying to figure out how to start a new habit or break the hold of an old one. This book is insightful and inspiring in getting us there, in my view. There might be a little too much material, but then again, the bits that helped me and the bits that help another person might be different... I recommend this book :)

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