July 28, 2015

Book Review: Better than Before

Better Than Before is the latest from Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project, Happier at Home). This title takes aim at our habits: how our personalities affect the formation of habits, what challenges we run into in keeping habits, and how our willpower and desires fit into all of it.

Rubin starts by outlining the "Four Tendencies", or the four different types of reactions to habits based on personalities. Upholders respond to all expectations, outer and inner. Questioners question all of them. Obligers respond well to outer expectations but have trouble with inner ones. Rebels resist everything.

While I typically don't "see" myself instantly in reading a book like this, it is incredibly clear to me that I am an obliger. I think being able to read the rest of the book through this lens of my own personality made it MUCH more useful for me. Rubin herself is an Upholder, which she points out is very rare. Most of the population fall into the Questioner or Obliger categories. I'm pretty sure my husband is a Questioner...and one of my kids is probably a Rebel (but that may just be all 5 year olds!)

Rubin follows the same format as her earlier books, mixing personal anecdotes from her life with the research she's done on the topic. It felt a touch more stilted in this book than in the others, and I think she may have struggled with finding the right tone to describe the way she "experimented" on her friends and family. Trying to get someone to form a habit can sound very much like nagging, and Rubin does her best to not come off that way.

Initially I thought about rating this book a 3.5, but after a week of finding myself bringing it up in conversation, and experiencing almost the exact habit forming problems she described in my attempt to start exercising again, I have to give it at least a 4. It may not be as flashy as happiness, but habits have such a concrete effect on our lives that I see myself going back to this book again and again.

Right after I make my husband read it!

I received a copy of this title from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review, but all opinions my own. Some links are affiliate links, thanks for supporting Hearth and Homefront.

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