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Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives Hardcover – March 17, 2015

4.1 out of 5 stars 464 customer reviews

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  • Better Than Before: A Day-by-Day Journal
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  • The Happiness Project (Revised Edition): Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“We are totally comfortable calling Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, life-changing.” 
—Better Homes & Gardens 
 
“If anyone can help us stop procrastinating, start exercising or get organized, it’s Gretchen Rubin. The happiness guru takes a sledgehammer to old-fashioned notions about change.” 
—Parade
 
“It’s exciting to find a self-help book that’s not only full of eye-opening insight but also provides practical tips to help you procrastinate and stress less, exercise and eat more healthfully, and spend time on activities that matter. We’re really glad that Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, decided to investigate her affinity for habits, because in the process she’s come up with a great guide to help us lay the foundation of a more satisfying life. Best of all, Better Than Before is a really fun read—Rubin’s friendliness, candor, and humor mirror a lively conversation with a best friend.” Apple iBooks
 
The Happiness Project lays out life’s essential goals…Her new book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, serves as a kind of detailed instruction manual on how to achieve them.” —New York Times Sunday Book Review

“In Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, Gretchen Rubin picks up where [William] James left off, integrating a wealth of insight from psychology, sociology, and anthropology in an illuminating field guide to harnessing the transformative power of habit in modern life.” 
Brain Pickings
 
“Change can be good. Particularly if it helps us live longer, healthier, indeed, happier lives — the objective of Rubin’s latest project.” 
—Chicago Tribune

“Author Gretchen Rubin says most people fall into one of four motivation types. Knowing yours is key to taking on new habits.” 
—Lifehacker
 
“Gretchen Rubin… [is] lighthearted and inviting—full of insights that sound familiar and advice that sounds less like what you should do and more like what you want to do.... With her focus on taking first steps and creating early successes, this is a refreshing take on how to change stubborn patterns that limit what we can enjoy about our lives.” Audiofile Magazine 

“Do you have a bad habit you’re trying to shake, or a good one you wish you could cultivate? Gretchen Rubin is one of the most charming and erudite authors of her generation. Here, she uses her gifts to help you eat right, sleep well, stop procrastinating, and start enjoying all that life has to offer.” 
—Susan Cain, New York Times bestselling author of Quiet
 
 “Gretchen Rubin combines deep research and observations from her own life to explain how habits emerge and—more important—how they can change. It’s indispensable for anyone hoping to overhaul how they (almost unthinkingly) behave.”
—Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit
 
“Filled with insights about our patterns of behavior, Better Than Before addresses one of life’s big and timeless questions: how can we transform ourselves? In a way that’s thought-provoking, surprising, and often funny, Gretchen Rubin provides us with the tools to build a life that truly reflects our goals and values.” 
—Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and New York Times bestselling author of Thrive
 
“Is there a habit in your life you’d like to change? If so, here’s your first step: Read this book. It’s loaded with practical, everyday tips and techniques that will guide you to success.”
—Dan Heath, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Made to StickSwitch, and Decisive
 
“Almost everyone wants to be ‘better’—slimmer, smarter, better looking, more interesting, more productive—and we want to know we’re improving, we want the reinforcing evidence. Gretchen Rubin’s new masterpiece, Better Than Before, shows us how.  Unlike other books on habits, Rubin’s book gives us the specific tools and a blueprint for getting back on track—the fast track.”
 —Brian Wansink, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Slim by Design and Mindless Eating
 
“With bold and original insights, Gretchen Rubin reveals the hidden truths about how to change our habits—from resisting junk food and hitting the gym to ending procrastination and saving money. Better Than Before is a gem, and the first habit you should form is reading a chapter every night.”
—Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take
 
“Gretchen Rubin’s superpower is curiosity. Luckily for us, she’s turned her passionate inquiry to the topic of making and mastering habits. Weaving together research, unforgettable examples, and her brilliant insight, Better Than Before is a force for real change. It rearranged what I thought I knew about my habits, and I’m better for it.”
—Brené Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Daring Greatly andThe Gifts of Imperfection

About the Author

Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on the linked subjects of habits, happiness, and human nature. She’s the author of many books, including the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project. Rubin has an enormous following, in print and online; her books have sold more than a million copies worldwide, in more than thirty languages, and on her popular daily blog, gretchenrubin.com, she reports on her adventures in pursuit of habits and happiness. Her podcast "Happier with Gretchen Rubin" was an iTunes "Best of 2015" pick. Rubin started her career in law, and was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (March 17, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385348614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385348614
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (464 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bradley Bevers VINE VOICE on January 26, 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I guess I am a sucker for books on habits, because all of a sudden I realized I've read a lot of them. This one is unique - I wouldn't say its the best for actually forming habits, but there are plenty of valuable insights here that make it well worth the read. And its might be the first one that I recommend to anyone else who asks, because it is very accessible and relatable. The author strikes a perfect balance of information and anecdote, and you will learn a lot without even realizing it.

Things I Loved About This Book:
* The 4 Tendencies: For most of this book, I thought these were not too impressive - I felt like all of them fit me somewhat. However, by the end of the book, I realized just how helpful they were. The quiz at the end to determine which tendency you fall in is very helpful, and you might want to skip ahead after the first chapter if you aren't sure what category you fall in. (I'm a questioner).
* Habits are different for different people. Rubin is the first author I've read who captures this concept well, and it makes complete sense once its presented. I have a 'lightning bolt' habit approach where habits are often formed overnight, but its helpful to see that many people aren't wired that way.
* Loved the section on abstinence being easier than moderation (for some people some of the time). Great insight, and a unique observation.
* The loophole spotting chapter is very helpful as well. Helps correct some of the self-defeating loopholes we often build into our habits.
* The danger of rewards and the benefits of treats was very good as well. External rewards that combat the habits we want to set are bad, internal treats that reinforce our habits are good. Simple . . . but hard to implement.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wasn't familiar with Gretchen Rubin before ordering an advanced copy of this book as part of the Vine program, but I love self-help books and thought that this book would help me with some New Year's resolutions that, two weeks into 2015, I still haven't been able to make happen. Eat better? Exercise more? Stop procrastinating on certain work projects? Cut back on my internet addiction? Yes, I have a long list of things I need to work on, and this book is a great first step in making those things happen.

The premise of this book is we can establish and then use habits to affect change in our lives. "Habits," Rubin states in the book's introduction, "make change possible by freeing us from decision-making and from using self-control." What Rubin means by this is that we can learn how to modify our behaviors so that we automatically do those things that we might otherwise not want to (like exercise, clean up after ourselves, avoid junk food, etc.). In the same way that we automatically brush our teeth without thinking about it, we can learn how to make other desirable behaviors (like eating better, avoiding time wasters, etc.) into "no brainers" that become folded into our everyday lives.

As Rubin further explains in the opening section, we have to choose strategies that will work for our specific personality type. To accomplish that, the book opens with a section that has you figure out what your main "tendency" is: are you an Upholder, Questioner, Rebel, Obliger, or perhaps a combo of these four types? From there, Rubin puts the principles in action by providing twenty-one strategies for helping you establish the habits that you want to create in your own life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the upside, there are a lot of interesting insights and helpful 'customizable' frameworks that can help you build healthy habits... Such as the Upholder/Obliger/Rebel/Questioner and Abstainer/Moderator concepts. However, all this could be summed up in a dozen pages or so and the takeaway messages would be much more clear and crisp.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I hate giving a one star review, but if I can't finish a book, then the author has failed at her job.

I gave this book a fighting chance. I purchased it after all--I thought I would like it. I read about halfway before I got too irritated to keep going. The author attempts to present herself as an everywoman, going out and trying these new things that she reads about so that she can share her advice with others. But she lacks all self-awareness. Even though she talks about researching the science of habits, she shares surprisingly little of that science, and instead spends most of her time talking about herself and what did and didn't work for her. I will give her a little bit of credit for being honest and saying that people should find what works best for themselves, and that what works for her won't work for everyone, but she doesn't focus on anyone but herself. Then she creates these arbitrary categories, including these "four tendencies" but she doesn't allow for an individual to change their tendency depending on context. The rest of the book (well, the rest of the first half of the book) follows in the same vein--yet more categories to put yourself into, with obvious, banal results when she tries out new habits for herself.

The straw that broke the camels back for me was a parenthetical aside at the end of a paragraph in which she mentions talking about habits with a friend: "(I love to throw in research. It's more convincing to people if I cite a study.)"

It's the entitled, self-satisfied, manipulative way that she says all this that really gets under my skin. She is not an everywoman! She is a smug, privileged elitist who peddles her advice in memoir form to the masses who are too ignorant to read the real science for themselves!
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