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The Finding and Keeping of Habits ~ “Better Than Before” {A Book Review}

better-than-before-review

I’ve been anxious to pick up a copy of this book since it came out earlier this year. Gretchen Rubin’s books are a great read as they get you to stop and take a look at your life as a whole. They help you consider: Am I living an intentional and purposeful life? Am I striving for things that I want in life…or for what other people want for me? Am I living a life I am proud of?

Her newest — Better Than Before — is no exception. After exploring the concept of happiness and what it meant for her in her own life, she now explores the topic of how to develop habits, which can help lead to a better quality of life and help one grow into a better person.

“For a happy life, it’s important to cultivate an atmosphere of growth–the sense that we’re learning new things, getting stronger, forging new relationships, making better things, helping other people. Habits have a tremendous role to play in creating an atmosphere of growth, because they help us make consistent, reliable progress.”

Rubin’s intention in this book isn’t to instruct us on what habits to take on for ourselves, but rather to give us tools that help us determine which good habits we would like to inculcate in our lives {or which bad ones to quit} and some “Strategies” on how to get there based on our strengths and weaknesses.


Rubin claims that every person falls into one of Four Tendencies: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. I’m still wavering between Upholder and Questioner–which makes me think I might be a Questioner, although I do tend to stick strictly to the things I’ve set out for myself to do.

After reading through the myriad of suggestions, I’ve found that her Strategy of Scheduling is one I need to incorporate more strongly into my life. I was better at this in college, but since having children, have really fallen away from the habit. It’s obviously more difficult with children, but I think having more of a schedule to our day would help me get more done, plus find more time to play with the girls {and free time with my husband}. Win-win.

“Scheduling is an invaluable tool for habit formation: it helps us eliminate decision making; it helps us make the most of our limited self-command; it helps us fight procrastination. Most important, perhaps, the Strategy of Scheduling helps us make time for the things that are most important to us. How we schedule our days is how we spend our lives.” 

I also realized from her descriptions that I do better with moderating, rather than abstaining. Having just a little of something that I’m craving and doling it out in small doses, helps me to curb that craving. Whereas, if I completely cut it out, I’m more likely to indulge in it in a big way.

“…from what I have seen, Moderators shouldn’t try to abstain; if they try to deny themselves, they can become very preoccupied with indulging.”

I like her suggestion on choosing a reward from sticking to a habit within the habit itself. For instance, some office gyms will offer the reward of a year-long free membership after sticking to a habit of going to the gym for so many days straight.

I’ve been thinking of rewarding myself with a new iPod after keeping a schedule of running three times a week for three months. {I’ll load it up with good pump up songs!}

“By finding my reward within the habit itself, with a reward that takes me deeper into the habit. If I look outside a habit for a reward, I undermine the habit.”

picking-strawberries

Ultimately, it is not the habits themselves that give meaning to our lives but the small acts committed repeatedly. As Rubin states, “[O]ften, when we consider our actions, it’s clear that any one instance of an action is almost meaningless; yet at the same time, the sum of those actions is very meaningful.” 

I strive to live a life of meaning, one which is infused with goodness, happiness, hard work, and light-heartedness. By better striving to figure out and maintain the habits that help me towards mine and my family’s goals, I can find a way for us to live ‘better than before.’

“The conduct of our lives is the true reflection of our thoughts.” -Michel de Montaigne “Of the Education of Children”

This book has inspired me to try more earnestly with some habits I’ve been trying to take on for a while. Hopefully, I can share some success soon! 🙂

I highly recommend this book to others who are interested in learning more about the habits they form and how better to do so.

 

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

This post contains affiliate links. 

5 Thoughts on “The Finding and Keeping of Habits ~ “Better Than Before” {A Book Review}

  1. This book sounds really interesting – I have plenty of habits, like we all do, both good and bad. It reminds me of that quote by Frank Outlaw: Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.

    • Great quote! Yes, being intentional about cultivating habits is important because if we don’t, they will likely cultivate us into someone we’d rather not be.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jen! 🙂

  2. franciscanmom on August 4, 2015 at 11:59 am said:

    Just ordered the kindle preview of this book. looks like it’s definitely worth checking out.

  3. Pingback: Books I Read in 2015 and Books to Read in 2016 | 'Muff'in Dome

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