Book Review: ‘Better Than Before’ by Gretchen Rubin

Better Than Before

“Whether you want to start eating healthier, lose some weight, or replace an unproductive habit with a more useful one, this is the book for you! :D” – ME

‘Better Than Before’ is the latest book from Gretchen Rubin, the author of the international bestseller ‘The Happiness Project’. πŸ™‚ When I read books written by two of my favorite female authors, Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Gilbert, my heart just wants to burst with gratefulness that there are wonderful authors such as these two ladies, who almost consistently put out great works which blow my mind. πŸ˜€ This book sets out to help us in “mastering the habits of our everyday lives”, and what it actually does is to help me discover which of the Four Tendencies I’m most inclined towards (am I an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or a Rebel?) and how we can avoid self-sabotage, but instead support ourselves in creating and maintaining habits which help us lead lives which are happier and better than before.

“Progress, not perfection, is the goal.”

I love how Gretchen keeps emphasizing that it’s not perfection she is seeking, just an improvement from a previous self. πŸ™‚ It’s exactly what I tell my blogging students too – it’s not about a massive overhaul of your blog, but just working on a 1% improvement every day and see where you get to in a year’s time. πŸ™‚

In this 7th book of hers, Gretchen inspires once again. This 394-page book is full of enlightening anecdotes, helpful suggestions, and mindblowing revelations. I found myself underlining and highlighting furiously as I read this book. Hehe!

Another important point Gretchen makes is that everyone is different (DUH!) but we often try to force someone (of a different Tendency) to do things according to the way we do them. I’m the sort of person who thinks there’s absolutely no need to make my bed in the morning because I’m gonna fall back into it in about 12 hours’ time. And no amount of nagging from my mother will make me feel HAPPY about straightening my pillows or folding my blanket in the morning… UNTIL the day I realized that it’s a useful morning ritual to have, especially for someone who works from home, in her bedroom.

Once my bed’s tidied, it means I’m up for the day, and I can go straight to work. Otherwise I’m lured back so often by its siren call. πŸ˜€

And because every one of us is different, some need to start small while others require a big change. Some need to be held accountable while others will always resist accountability. And some people need to take occasional breaks while others must never break a habit. To find out more about yourself (and your loved ones), go read this book.

Meanwhile, here are my top takeaways from reading this book:

*These takeaways are not so you can forego purchasing or reading the book. They are just here as helpful jolts for my memory πŸ˜› They might not make sense to you if you don’t read the book. Ha!

  1. Habits help free up mental energy.
  2. I have to shape my habits to suit me.
  3. I’m a familiarity lover while other people may love novelty.
  4. Interesting question to ask: If I had $500 to spend on fun, how would I spend it?
  5. Avoid self-sabotage: don’t raise the bar when starting a new habit.
  6. A habit can take anything from 21 days to 66 days (or more) to form. But everyone is different, therefore it is not useful to have “averages”.
  7. The less we indulge in something, the less we want it.
  8. Have planned exceptions. (For me, it’ll involve cake, and fast food)
  9. If 100% is not possible, anything more than 0% is good.
  10. Distraction as a powerful strategy.
  11. Avoid using rewards. Find the reward within the habit.
  12. “What change would add more happiness to my life?”

To find out which of the 4 Tendencies would best describe you, take the quiz on page 391 to 394 πŸ™‚

If you are ready to become Better Than Before, go grab a copy of this awesome book.