Published by Crown Publishing Group, Crown/Archetype on March 17th 2015
Genres: General, Happiness, Personal Growth, Self-Help, Success
ARC provided by Crown Publishing Group
The author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, tackles the critical question: How do we change?
Gretchen Rubin's answer: through habits. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.
So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits?
Better than Before answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to allow readers to understand their habits—and to change them for good. Infused with Rubin’s compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy humor, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better than Before explains the (sometimes counter-intuitive) core principles of habit formation. Along the way, Rubin uses herself as guinea pig, tests her theories on family and friends, and answers readers’ most pressing questions—oddly, questions that other writers and researchers tend to ignore:
- Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do? •
- Sometimes I can change a habit overnight, and sometimes I can’t change a habit, no matter how hard I try. Why?
- How quickly can I change a habit?
- What can I do to make sure I stick to a new habit?
- How can I help someone else change a habit?
- Why can I keep habits that benefit others, but can’t make habits that are just for me?
Whether readers want to get more sleep, stop checking their devices, maintain a healthy weight, or finish an important project, habits make change possible. Reading just a few chapters of Better Than Before will make readers eager to start work on their own habits—even before they’ve finished the book.
This book was really full of great ideas. Gretchen offers advice, tells stories to drive the point home, and breaks it down by personality type. This book would benefit almost anyone who was willing to sit down and read it.
The Good: Gretchen introduces us first to the 7 essential changes people try to make. Just about every thing some one tries to change will fall into one of these categories. She then breaks everyone into one of 4 categories, with admitting that some people bleed into other categories. I was really resistant at first being one of four, but in reading further I found myself reacting a certain way in every scenario. It’s brilliant really, how true my reaction is to my category. She then offers really helpful advice to actually making new habits and breaking bad ones by using example after example of how to get started. Gretchen lays out an array of pitfalls for each type of person and how to counter them.
There is no excuse good enough. Gretchen exposed every weakness I had tried. I was really impressed that she was able to name every type of roadblock for change, and then offer ways to counter them. She also offers many tips on ways you can monitor yourself, to make sure you stick to your habits, or stick to breaking those bad ones. I am serious when I tell you that I took notes on this book. I am pretty sure this is the sort of book you should read, highlight and then reread whenever you hit a roadblock in your efforts.
The Bad: The only thing I can really complain about is Gretchen’s attempt to persuade the reader about her diet. While it is worth looking into because it worked for her, this is not her area of expertise, nor is it the reason people pick this book up. Stating a certain diet as being the only way to lose weight in a self help book, is just dangerous. Also, all her talking about how working out doesn’t help people loose weight was really disheartening. I am sure fitness experts will agree that this isn’t entirely correct either. There is plenty of research to suggest that her information is not correct.
Conclusion: I would recommend this book to those trying to break or make a habit. It has enough information for the reader to walk away more informed, if nothing else. While I don’t agree with all of what she said, her methods for habits make too much sense to ignore.
About the Author
Rubin is an enthusiastic proponent of using technology to engage with readers about ideas, and she has a wide, active following. Not only that–“The Happiness Project” was even an answer on the game-show Jeopardy!
A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, Rubin started her career in law, and she was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She has written several books, including three novels that are safely locked in a desk drawer. Raised in Kansas City, she lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.