Book review 2 : Better than Before

Gretchin Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project (which I read a few years back) and more recently, The Four Tendencies. However, I chose this particular book for my “Book of the Month” because it focused on a subject that is very intriguing to me : habits.

Also, I must admit that the subtitle peaked my interest : “what I learned about making and breaking habits – to sleep more, quit sugar, procrastinate less, and generally build a happier life”. Guess which part got me? 😉

In this book, Rubin explores the science behind habits like what makes us decide to adopt a new one and how do we break those pesky ones (like sugar!). Through a number of strategies, Rubin defines habit makers and breakers into different categories. According to the author, we repeat about 40% of our behaviors on a daily basis so change your habits, change your life! Sounds easy, right?

However, the author succeeds in showing us that many factors contribute to making or breaking a habit and that these factors can vary quite a bit from one person to another. One strategy can work wonders for someone while for others, it’s what breaks them. It definitely isn’t a “one size fits all” kind of scenario.

“When people frame their habits in the way that makes the most sense to them, they succeed better.” (p. 219)

Throughout the book, I realized that I already apply quite a few strategies suggested by the author. For example, reading a book per month is a new habit that I want to build and I started to panic around February 16th because I’d only read a third of this book so I counted the number of sections left to read and divided this with the number of days left for the month all while leaving a few days at the end to write this post. For Rubin, that strategy is called scheduling. Result : book completed, check! Blog post written, check!

I also realized that I’ve been using the strategy of pairing (combining an activity that we love with one that we don’t care as much for) by wanting to use the stationary bike in our basement on a more regular basis. I decided to pair biking with watching a television show that would motivate me to use the bike. Let’s just say that I hit the jackpot when Netflix released the first season of This is Us! The deal is that I can only watch the show if I’m biking. Result : I’m biking like crazy!

As usual, Rubin’s books are always full of examples of regular people trying to get by and she doesn’t shy away from using her own personal experiences to get her point across which I appreciate. Also, she always includes a multitude of resources so it’s easy to see that she researches her topics like crazy before she even begins writing about it.

While I enjoyed the book, I will admit that I may have tried to apply a few too many of these strategies all in one shot which wasn’t a good idea. I also started dissecting my current habits to see in what categories they would fall under and if I could make them more efficient which, in the end, wasn’t very efficient. Lesson : don’t try to change everything all at once!

However, the best part of reading this book for me was that I honestly feel like I got to know myself a little better by analyzing my habits and routines. And as a bonus, I also learned to love myself just the way that I am a whole lot more.

Happy reading!

Have you read this book? What did you think? Have you checked out the Better than Before journal?

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