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The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) Hardcover – September 12, 2017
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“The Four Tendencies will immediately improve every area of your life—and I say this from personal experience. If you’ve been feeling stuck in your relationships, career, health, or self-confidence, understanding your Tendency and how to make it work for you is the game-changer you’ve been looking for.”
—Melissa Hartwig (Upholder), author and cocreator of The Whole30
"The path to happiness starts with your personality. In The Four Tendencies, Gretchen Rubin upends the conventional wisdom of one prescription fitting all people and offers readers a tailored path to better health, relationships and well-being. A remarkable read from one of the most practical storytellers on the planet."
—Tom Rath (Questioner), author of Are You Fully Charged? and StrengthsFinder 2.0
“This Rebel can’t help but agree with the crowd: you need to read The Four Tendencies! The online quiz is mega-popular for good reason, but the book will give you unexpected, lasting insights. You'll learn to make better decisions based on what works best for your specific personality profile—not what anyone else expects or demands.”
—Chris Guillebeau (Rebel), author of Side Hustle and host of the podcast Side Hustle School
“The Four Tendencies is a remarkably well-crafted and insightful book. Gretchen Rubin taught me why, as a Rebel, my expectations often clash with others’ expectations and helped me develop a more compassionate view. Better still, The Four Tendencies offers powerful steps that we can all take to have more constructive relationships with the people in our lives.”
—Robert Sutton (Rebel), Stanford Professor and author of The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt
“The greatest predictor of growth and happiness is actionable self-knowledge. Gretchen Rubin gives you the tools to not only understand yourself and others, but what to do with that knowledge. Insightful, practical and crucial, The Four Tendencies will help you overcome the biggest impediments to your happiness and success.”
—Shawn Achor (Upholder), author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness
“Gretchen Rubin has discovered a new framework for understanding ourselves and other people. When we know our Tendency, we can manage ourselves more effectively and reach our goals faster—and we can help others to do that, as well. As a researcher who has studied habits, addiction, and change for 20 years, I’m excited by the simplicity and power of The Four Tendencies as a tool for anyone seeking to make his or her life better. I am implementing this in my clinical programs to help people understand their Tendencies so they can change behaviors such as stress and emotional eating.”
—Judson Brewer, MD, PhD (Questioner), author of The Craving Mind and associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School
“Gretchen Rubin’s groundbreaking Four Tendencies framework is a simple yet powerful tool that helps us better recognize our own nature, harness its strengths, and counteract its weaknesses. With her trademark wit and insight, Gretchen gives us the tools to create the life we want, in a way that’s right for us. The surprising thing? Once you know about these four types, you see them everywhere.”
—Susan David, PhD, (Upholder), cofounder of the Institute of Coaching and author of Emotional Agility
“If you want to change anything in your life, you need Gretchen Rubin. Her ideas are original, instinctive and revolutionary. Whether you want to get fitter, work smarter or be tidier, she shows you how to tweak your habits (almost) effortlessly. This Rebel sleeps better, deletes more email, is three stone lighter and forever in her debt.”
—Viv Groskop (Rebel), journalist and comedian
"I love Gretchen Rubin and she helps me understand both myself and the people around me."
—Cathy Rentzenbrink (Obliger), author of The Last Act of Love
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, Better Than Before and The Happiness Project. A member of Oprah's SuperSoul 100, Rubin has an enormous following, in print and online; her books have sold more than two million copies worldwide, in more than thirty-five languages, and on her popular daily blog, gretchenrubin.com, she reports on her adventures in pursuit of habits and happiness. She also has a highly ranked, award-winning podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. 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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Gretchen begins her book with a test we need to take to identify our most important Tendency: Upholder, Obliger, Rebel, and Questioner. Gretchen tells us: “You are the best judge of yourself. If you believe that a different Tendency describes you better, trust yourself.” I took the test and the results told me that I am a Questioner. This result is accurate, but like the good questioner that I am, I question the validity of Gretchen’s test. Is it reliable, valid, independent, and comprehensive? The answer is no. We need to do just what Gretchen says; that is, look at the descriptions of each Tendency and decide for ourselves what Tendency describes us best.
Does the fact that her test is not valid mean that Gretchen’s book is useless? Not at all. Many readers are going to enjoy Gretchen’s relaxed and breezy style of writing as she talks about our Tendencies and how they affect our interactions with people at home and at work. Her book is often a “fun read.” Her book may not qualify as science, but her observations about people are often valid. She says about me that I put a high value on reason, research, and information. Absolutely! Also, she tells me that I make decisions based on information and reason. Right again. She goes on to say that as a Questioner I hate anything arbitrary. Well, hate is too strong a word, but by and large she is correct. Gretchen described me well and I think many other people who read her book are going to agree that one of her Tendencies is going to accurately describe the way they behave with people at home and at work.
Most self-help books and self-help tests don’t qualify as science. Even a famous test like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has received much criticism from scientists. That criticism does not stop more than 2.5 million people from taking this test every year. We should be guided by science, but not ruled by it, at least in my opinion. Remember, as a Questioner I even question some of the results science gives us, particularly when these results come from our doctors. My doctor tells me that science tells him that taking supplements like glucosamine for knee pain is useless. I question his findings; my glucosamine supplement definitely helps my knees. My doctor tells me it is all in my head. I tell him my head is not a bad place to start if my head helps relieve the pain in my knees.
Gretchen’s test for the four Tendencies may not be valid according to strict scientific standards, but much of her advice and counsel is valid, at least for me. Additionally, Gretchen invites readers to participate in her blogs and web site. She wants to open up communication with as many readers as are interested in communicating with her and other like-minded people. Her book will provide all the particulars readers need to hook up with her.
There are four types writes author Gretchen Rubin: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger and Rebel. And your type is based upon how you respond to expectations such as your own expectations and others' expectations. You usually have one dominant type and lean into another type. Although Rubin says the types don't link directly to Myers-Briggs types, I do see similarities. For example, for those of you who know Myers-Briggs, I would guess that Rebels are P's on the Myers-Briggs. They perceive lots of options. Obligers may more likely be F for feelers as they care about other's feelings, and don't like to let people down. Upholders may be J's as they like everything dotted and crossed and feel freedom in organization and order. So, it would be interesting to do a correlation.
For myself, I've always tried to do "the right thing" which means obeying your teacher, the rules, conventions but have occasionally broken them and wondered why as it seemed a bit random in retrospect. After doing the quiz in this book, I realize I'm a Questioner. I question and analyze processes, rules, cause and effect (history major) and I'll buck the system occasionally and in a big way sometimes if I feel something is wrong. Rubin posits Steve Jobs was a Questioner. I would have tagged him as a Rebel. But, it would seem many Entrepreneurs are Questioners or Rebels. We tend to question the status quo and wonder if there's a better way of doing things. That's why I like to review books - I'm always looking for new information to improve life for myself and others.
It's interesting to know the types regarding spouses and children. For example, two family members are Upholders. They are so disciplined and tend to follow the rules and norms. If they see a big line going into a theme park, they will dutifully get in line while I'll look around for a separate smaller line or different activity to go to. My brother will already be inside having snuck into the employee entrance and he'll be waving at us from the inside. But I admire these Upholders' family members' ability to produce. One got a PhD in Economics without much drama or sweat. The other does massive amounts of physical labor on 5 rental properties (mowing lawns, repairs, renovations) in addition to working full-time. But sometimes they miss nuances which can shorten their labor or efforts or bring more fun into their life.
Rubin writes that she is an Upholder. When I read her previous books I admired all of the projects she took on to be happier, develop better habits etc. But when I read them, I realized I didn't have the discipline to do the massive amounts of work she did. I wanted the results, and wished I had the internal and external loci of control, but didn't. Maybe Rubin's next book could be on how to maximize happiness and great habits for the four types.
This book outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the four different types so you can soar with your strengths and manage your weaknesses. It also tells you how to understand each type, deal with each type and the most effective way to communicate with each type. It tells you which types are the most abundant in a population. It also outlines what happens when the different types pair up. There's also some quick flash evaluation questions to determine a type quickly. I have one son who I haven't determined if he's a Questioner like me or a yikes! Rebel like my brother. I'm looking forward to his evaluation.
I was thinking of Donald Trump and how the media tries to corner him and he won't give them the answer they want, sometimes to his detriment. I'm beginning to think Trump is a Rebel. That's an intriguing thought.
Although the concept behind this book is simple, it is deep and has profound implications. I found it fascinating, and couldn't really find find that it didn't ring true. It explained a lot of things I've been puzzling over and will help me to be more effective in dealing with family members, friends etc. and better at meeting needs and contributing. There's very few books you can say that about. It's a short book, and easily understandable. I actually thought I'd find the theory not that pertinent, or perhaps easy to disprove. By now you think all of the type theories have been discovered: Holland Code, Myers-Briggs, Color Personality Code etc. But this is fresh, novel and revolutionary. And practical.
The only reason I nixed a star is that I wasn't quite as interested in reading about the tendencies that I don't interact with frequently - like rebel. If I were to identify any rebels in my everyday life, though, I'd likely want to go back and read through.