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Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits--to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life Paperback – December 15, 2015
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New York Times Bestseller Washington Post Bestseller The author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers The Happiness Project and Happier at Home tackles the critical question How do we change Gretchen Rubin s answer through habits Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life It takes work to make a habit but once that habit is set we can harness the energy of habits to build happier stronger more productive lives So if habits are a key to change then what we really need to know is How do we change our habits Better than Before answers that question It presents a practical concrete framework to allow readers to understand their habits and to change them for good Infused with Rubin s compelling voice rigorous research and easy humor and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed Better than Before explains the sometimes counter intuitive core principles of habit formation Along the way Rubin uses herself as guinea pig tests her theories on family and friends and answers readers most pressing questions oddly questions that other writers and researchers tend to ignore Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do Sometimes I can change a habit overnight and sometimes I can t change a habit no matter how hard I try Why How quickly can I change a habit What can I do to make sure I stick to a new habit How can I help someone else change a habit Why can I keep habits that benefit others but can t make habits that are just for me Whether readers want to get more sleep stop checking their devices maintain a healthy weight or finish an important project habits makechange possible Reading just a few chapters of Better Than Before will make readers eager to start work on their own habits even before they ve finished the book From the Hardcover edition Most of us have a habit we d like to change and there s no shortage of expert advice But as we all know from tough expe
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If you're looking for real science and don't like blather, this book is not for you.
First, Rubin attempts to break down people's personalities to ascertain what methods will work best for different people, which would be incredibly helpful if her framework of the Four Tendencies worked. For me, it fails because people don't easily fall into those 4 categories - I think it might be more correct to say that in some situations people need external commitment (Obliger), and in other situations those same people are going to reject any rules (Rebel). But I think its very, very unusual that one person is one "Tendency" in all situations and for this reason, her constant reference to the framework in many ways detracted instead of helped me think about habits and how I might apply the various strategies. As she notes herself, Rubin is a very unique person and I think the fact that she is an Upholder in all situations is probably the exception, not the rule.
My second critique is that because Rubin herself is so unique and as a person completely without vice, she isn't able to clearly demonstrate the power of habit. Her method of writing is to combine research with personal stories. In her Happiness books, I found that method to be very successful. Here, however, she can't use herself as a guinea pig because she has few major habits to change; somehow she does not struggle at all with food, sleep, alcohol, exercise, etc. in the way many people do. So instead she uses her strategies to change small habits, which didn't come across as very dramatic to me because they aren't as difficult to change. Had she been able to point to at least one major habit to change and demonstrated the process and the challenges and ultimate success of doing so, it would have been much more compelling. It is as not hard to set an alarm every day to make yourself meditate as it is to completely change your diet (for most people, that is. For her that somehow was not a struggle).
If you are really interested in habits, and you should be because habits are fascinating, I would start with the Power of Habit.
Unfortunately, personal examples and anecdotes are (over)used for every point. I know way more about Gretchen's life, thoughts, and feelings than I want to... In fact, sometimes it felt like I was reading her personal diary (at one point she reminded herself of her Number One Commandment: "Be Gretchen"... Come on!) which was uncomfortable and a huge waste of time... so I ultimately had to scroll through pages at a time to just get back to the core messages that could help the READER work on their habits -- and not waste time on hearing how Gretchen and her friends and family were so successful in forming/maintaining their own habits.
Not sure if I'd recommend buying the book and wasting your time reading all of it or if I'd just recommend reading reviews and articles that cut through the cr*p and just explain her basic but very helpful habit forming frameworks, which are truly insightful and applicable to everyday life.