8 min read ⌚
What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits – to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life
Only if the foundation upon which your habits are built aligned with your lifestyle, with who you are. We all fall into the trap of “tomorrow” – a bubble where everything will be right with the world. Well, it never is.
One of the rules of starting and maintaining a habit is that you need to commit. No matter what happens in your life, if you have the willpower of making the decision to change something then you stick with it until it becomes as instinctive as breathing.
That’s a good habit. You decide the adjustment that improves your life. Then day after day, you keep going on.
But “how do we change our habits”?
HABITS FOR HAPPINESS / BETTER THAN BEFORE
It was essential that my habits suit me because I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.
“Better Than Before PDF Summary”
The core endeavor of Better Than Before is to answer this exact question, without losing sight of our differences as human beings. It represents a journey of self-reflection, experimentation, and research on habits.
Habits tend to make or break us, even if sometimes we don’t want to admit it. Rubin teaches us to navigate the demanding process of creating and preserving healthy routines by helping us to feel more at ease in our own skins.
All habits share one common thing; they are all designed to convey messages not just to the world but also to yourself as such they are an invisible construction. “
Better than Before” is not just another self-help book, Gretchen Rubin techniques are simple, her methods – timeless. This summary represents a clear indication of the most important thing – transformation.
GetNugget offers you a chance to scan this book before you start reading it, to see how people actually change when a genuine opportunity unfolds. Before you see beyond change, a person must understand the meaning.
Habits are of relative nature, as such they upgrade, downgrade, change, transform, and dissolve on a daily basis.
The fact is you can’t control them. As a matter of fact, you don’t need to. All you need to do is develop the right ones, that will inflict progress.
Habits eradicate the necessity of self-control. This theory should not be taken for granted, because according to some studies, people who attempted to use self-control as a tool against temptation – benefited.
This book summary is the easy way to identify the reasons for lacking self-confidence, and a perfect way to expose those secrets that trouble our minds. Be a “better than before” use Rubin’s guidance and our assistance to become a better person.
Candid and intuitive, Gretchen Rubin has a special interest in human behavior and the subject of happiness. She also has a passion for understanding what makes people tick when it comes to how they let habits lead their lives.
Rubin’s a trailblazer in how she dissects and pieces everything back together in her unique way. Her quest is to guide people towards achieving a kinder, happier, and more balanced existence, where negative emotions are seldom felt.
She concedes that:
It was essential that my habits suit me because I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.
Rubin is a Yale Law School graduate. As she took the first steps in her law career, she became aware of her calling as a writer. Her talent for unraveling new facets of habits and happiness is unique in tone and demeanor.
Blogger, speaker, author, and low-carb eater, among other things, she has the drive to develop, explore, experiment, and bring data to the masses interested in learning and discovering more about themselves.
From the several books, she has written, her piece de résistance is The Happiness Project – an international success and #1 New York Times bestseller.
Throughout Better Than Before you’ll uncover tie-ins with her prior findings, a groundwork of sorts, to help you comprehend and connect the dots between habits and happiness. The chapters aren’t numbered; instead, almost like a journal, each one is introduced by a quote from various authors.
The amount of information, studies, opinions, and advice is staggering, bringing together the mechanics of every component that goes into the formation of a good habit.
Moreover, you’ll read the candid conversations between the author and her friends, family, and blog readers.
The book is split into six segments, starting with “Self-knowledge”. We need to understand ourselves better to build a solid foundation for changing and implementing habits tailored to our individual lives.
The next section is “Pillars of Habit”, made up of 4 strategies: Monitoring, Foundation, Scheduling, and Accountability. More helpful strategies are found in “The Best Time to Begin”, which explores the moments where the change is happening.
As you approach the middle of Better Than Before, the temptations to discontinue your chosen habit are revealed, and methods for avoiding them are laid bare in “Desire, Ease, and Excuses”.
The next section, “Unique, Just Like Everyone Else”, deals with coming to terms with who we are and owning our habits in front of our peers by applying the strategies of Clarity, Identity, and Other People.
The journey ends with “Everyday Life in Utopia”, where Rubin acknowledges the shifts in her perspective of habits and her own inner self.
A quiz awaits you after the final section (among other interesting resources), where you’ll discover which of the Four Tendencies you belong to: Questioners, Obligers, Upholders, or Rebels.
The key concepts from Gretchen Rubin’s book are these:
- Habits rule our existence. Good or bad, they have the power to shape our days, weeks, months, or years. A habit has its roots in a decision, in altering something in your routine. If you stick with the change it transforms into a task which you consistently do, without any conscious decision-making.
- The Four Tendencies Framework represents the groups on which to base your future habits. Questioners investigate all expectations and then decide if it’s worth meeting them. Obligers answer eagerly to external expectations but wrestle to meet internal ones. Upholders react immediately to both inner and outer expectations. Rebels oppose all expectations, choosing to live on their own terms instead.
- The Strategy of Monitoring offers a detailed insight into how you can manage specific habits. Gathering usable information is crucial in the process of embarking on an adjustment in your life, especially if you gain more discipline over your own actions.
- The Strategy of Foundation consists of choosing habits which enforce our self-control. Start with those that have a positive impact on you. You can begin with your sleeping patterns and continue with your drinking and eating habit, or tidying your office and home.
- The Strategy of Scheduling does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s about commitment and keeping your word to yourself. It means that you have a specific time in which to carry out your habits, a plan for each day that you must follow. Writing things down is a step further into imprinting a motion on your brain, predictability being one of the most precious tools in creating a sustainable habit.
- The Strategy of Accountability compels us to show more restraint in skipping or forgoing an activity. Discipline comes into play when somebody is watching us, when we can be held responsible for our behavior. A better way to implement this strategy is to begin an accountability partnership.
Here are 5 practical things from Better Than Before:
- Lectio divina, or spiritual reading, has its origins in the practices of Early Christian monks. If reading holy manuscripts doesn’t appeal to you, then you can still enjoy some quality “me-time” by shuffling through art galleries, attending concerts, hiking, or even meditating. The point is to get in touch with your spiritual side.
- To get past your temptations, tell yourself: “I’ll do that (the activity that disrupts your habit) in 15 minutes”. Usually, you get distracted by other things, forgetting all about that. If, after this period of time, you still want to carry it out, add another 5 minutes when you feel the temptation in the future.
- “If-then” planning acts as a safeguard in case you need to use the “break glass procedure.” It requires a more dire view of the future, by assessing potential critical situations. By thinking ahead and devising a Plan B you are prepared to react right away, minimizing the possible damage.
- Instead of saying “I’m stressed” out loud, try to internally decipher the motive for this statement. “Stress” is too vague a word and ultimately only helps you complain, without solving your source of distress. Identify the reason for it and do something about it.
- When you put an activity on your agenda, you must do it. No excuses, no “leave it for tomorrow”. If you don’t keep a timetable, then you should. It helps to have a fixed schedule.
As a top tip, you should know that:
For most people, whenever possible, important habits should be scheduled for the morning.
Rubin provides us with several theories to help build habits for a happier life:
- The principal categories of unhealthy treats that endanger your good habits are:
Food: Indulging once in a while is relatively safe if you’ve got restraint. However, if you don’t, one bite won’t diminish your appetite; on the contrary, your “one tiny treat” tends to become “many tiny treats”. That’s the road to self-loathing and severe consequences for your body. So next time you feel tense or under the weather, skip the vanilla ice cream or that big jar of Nutella.
Shopping: It can be done responsibly if we impose limits. When we indulge in the thrill of the chase for various bargains, things (and that I mean time and money) can get out of hand, fast.
Even if most of the time we’re happy when shopping, the endless circle of that short-lived happiness, the subsequent buyer’s remorse, and more shopping to make us feel better is a very hard one to break. Why don’t you try window shopping instead?
Screen time: TV tends to be a go-to activity when we come home from work. Sometimes we stay glued to the glowing screen until late at night, feeling slightly guilty whenever Netflix asks if we’re still watching; sometimes we doze off in front of it.
Still, television is considered a treat when you have a favorite show that you watch weekly; you view it as a friend or a family member, and you feel invigorated after the episode is over.
- The bright line rule. It’s a notion Rubin borrowed from law, representing a “clearly defined rule or standard that eliminates any need for interpretation or decision-making”. One common example is buying only the items on your shopping list – no more impulse shopping.
Fundamentally, you choose to take action on a matter by creating a principle of behavior, and you stick with it. No passes, no skipping. You commit to it and that’s that.
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“Better Than Before Quotes”
Our Critical Review
I have a few more words to write as we reach the end of our adventure. Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before exposes new and brave ways of looking at habits, and at yourself. It dares you to reevaluate, dissect, and put back together a new set of habits which will make your life a happier and more fulfilled one.