- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 33 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: March 17, 2015
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00R8L6OCM
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
I have to say that Better than Before did not affect me with the same impact as The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, but I think the answer to why is found within the first few chapters of the book, Rubin sets up Four Tendencies (find out which one you are here) and points out that each approaches habits differently. Your tendency describes how to respond to expectations. I happen to be a rare category - The Upholder - like Rubin. She says that this category has an easier time adopting habits, which I find true for myself.
Based on the Four Tendencies, Rubin outlines strategies and tips for creating new habits that will improve your life in the short-term and in the long-term. For example, as an Upholder, I am driven by task lists and my calendar, so if I determine a new habit I would like to form, If it is scheduled, it happens, so I should put a new habit on my task list or calendar in order to help myself form the habit.
I gave this a test run in connection with a habit I need to form but have been resisting. No, not exercise. No, not my diet. Money. I hate categorizing transactions for our monthly budget because I just find it so stressful as we approach the end of each budget amount! The stress of almost going over budget is so frustrating that I just avoid the task altogether. Then, I create a self-fulfilling prophecy because if I am not tracking where each budget category is at, I go over budget.
Following the habit formation advice most suited to my Upholder tendency, I added "Categorize transactions" to my calendar for every Tuesday and Friday. This way, I would get an email reminder (as opposed to my task list app, which isn't quite so pushy) that I could not delete until I had accomplished the task. I have been using this tactic for a few weeks now and it has really made a difference - getting in the habit of just facing the issue has made it less traumatic and more part of everyday life.
So, if you were a fan of The Happiness Project and/or Happier at Home, I would highly recommend picking up Better than Before. This book is all about practical steps to improve your life, but is really focused on the fact that our personalities are a major determining factor in how we operate on a daily basis. As a result, the strategies offered are not one-size-fits-all, so are more effective.
I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an unbiased review.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Being a "questioner" myself, I read and adopted the book she recommended on low...Read more