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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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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.
But mostly this: I identify as the Rebel/Questioner archetype (like to do things against the grain, and hate tasks that have no value or purpose). Time and time again, the Rebel is more or less described as a child: (p.75 "Scheduling makes us far more likely to convert an activity into a habit (well, except for Rebels). This is just wrong, the choice is what's important to me - if I make the choice then of course it's easier to stick to the schedule, especially since I'm less likely to forget.
It's almost as if Gretchen thinks of Rebels as akin to children throughout he book, or something like a childlike Questioner.
-- this ended up more berating and mean than originally intended. Just need to add that Gretchen is obviously a great writer considering her other works, but this was just too offensive and non-relatable to me.
I have to say, the MOST impactful thing in here is the advice for rebels. My 5-yr old daughter is a rebel (hoping this is something she grows out of?!?!) and I struggle on a daily basis. I've started to reframe my conversations with her, based on Gretchen's advice, and IT'S WORKING. I'll give you an example: Usually, I tell her she cannot watch her nightime TV show until she has her PJs on. This leads to whining and sobbing, "You ALWAYS make me put my jammies on first!!" Seriously. Every. single. night. So two nights ago, I tried a new strategy. I presented the WHY and then pretended that I wasn't interested in her ultimate decision. "The reason I'm asking you to get your PJs on now is because that will give you more time to watch your show and you'll be able to watch the entire thing. You can wait and get them on after your show, but then you might run out of time, which means we'd have to turn your show off before it's over. But you can do it either way. They both work." There was no immediate fit...she was quiet, as she seemed to contemplate what I'd said. Then she replied, "I'm going to put them on now so I can watch my whole show." and off she went. *jaw drop*
If nothing else, the book was worth the money for THAT reason alone.
In addition to that, though, it's helping me reshape my goals for this year. The most significant change was realizing that I might be better off setting monthly goals where I can focus on ONE thing at a time and add on (like she does in her Happiness Project) because I'm a starter and not a finisher and I'm novelty focused. :) I'll let you know if this year I manage to do better.