I read a lot of books in 2016 and happened to end the year with a book perfect for the beginning of a new year, “Better Than Before” by Gretchen Rubin. I was familiar with Rubin through other books and her podcast and was particularly interested in this book after I heard her interviewed on another podcast. The power of this book is that it doesn’t prescribe “you should do this” – rather, it helps the reader consider his or her own personality and what methods might work best for each person in seeking some new goals. I liked this approach and also found the book affirming in that she mentions some tactics that I had already learned to employ for myself over the years.
She says there are four categories of people – Obligers, Upholders, Rebels, and Questioners – and once you figure out which category you fit into, this will help you see better how you successfully form habits (or don’t.) I took her quiz to figure out which category I am and I don’t fit neatly into any. I hear she is working on another book about these four categories and I look forward to seeing it as she writes about this more in-depth.
One of the helpful habits she discusses is that of scheduling – that it can be helpful to schedule the habit into your day, but also to schedule a break. For example, if I know I am going to be at a party and won’t be able to stick to my habit of eating clean for that meal, to schedule parameters within which I will work for the party and then go immediately back to my regular habit after that. I tried that this week with a gathering I needed to attend. I knew that for that luncheon, pizza was on the menu. I decided before I left for the luncheon that I would have two slices of pizza, no alcohol, and then go back to life as usual right afterward. Scheduling this brief “break” helped me not feel deprived but also feel still very in control.
Rubin’s book is easy to read and great food for thought. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to understand themselves a little bit better and wanting to figure out habits that will help them increase their joy in everyday life.