Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin


Dear Fellow Reader,

Happy New Year! Are you as amazed as I am that it could be a new year already? What happened?

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I do. No, I am not that great at keeping them. (I bet you knew that because I keep saying that I am going to post more here and then I don’t.)  I have decided this year that instead of looking at it as resolutions that I am going to try and build some new habits. I made a laundry list of things that I would like to change or improve upon and from that I am going to try and make new habits that will help me incorporate the changes.

One of the things I learned several years ago from a neighbor was the value of having a quarterly planning session. The idea was to try and plan out what I want to accomplish in the next quarter. I have found this to be helpful, but I think I also enjoy just getting ready for the planning session. Now, I have always had these sessions with myself at home but my neighbor really felt that you needed to get out of your space and so you could concentrate. I used to go to another room in the house that I could “junk up” for a couple of days while I worked on my plans. This time, I just stayed in my office but went over to the “reading corner” and set up a TV tray to hold all the stuff I dragged over there. Somehow, I got caught up in doing things that had nothing to do with planning – or did they? I sat down and decided that I needed to clean out my bookcase. There were books that I was never going to read or books that needed to find a new home. In doing this, I found Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before. It is a book about building habits! How perfect, right? Did I know that I had that book? Okay, kind of a tossup on that but the book was right there when I needed it!


Gretchen Rubin has a very conversational style of writing that is easy to read. She includes personal observations along with research and statistics to back up her information. The book starts out talking about how important self-knowledge is in the process. Ms Rubin’s theory is that if you know what kind of person you are, you can form habits that will go along with your personality and it will make it easier for you. This makes sense, right? The four types of personalities described by her are as follows:

The Upholder – meets outer expectations, meets inner expectations

The Questioner – resists outer expectations, meets inner expectations

The Obliger – meets outer expectations, resists inner expectations

The Rebel – resists outer expectations, resists inner expectations

Once you know where you fit, then you can adapt your habit formation so that your new habits will appeal to your personality type. I will say that I had a bit of a problem defining myself. I felt I was a blend of types but that is probably because I wasn’t crazy about the sound of being an Obliger.

I felt that it was one of those rare moments that a book was in front of me that was exactly what I needed to read. I have a feeling that one read won’t be enough – I have the book totally marked up – that there is plenty of information there to warrant additional visits. If you are looking to kick start your new year or improve some of your habits, this book could be of help. A quick read with lots to think about.

Thanks for reading!

About Carol Early Cooney

I love to read. I love to share my thoughts on books and hope to hear what you think also. Looking to see what books I read beyond those I write about? Check out my Goodreads!
This entry was posted in Talking Books and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

  1. Maureen Rice says:

    A timely read for sure!

  2. Julia Tomiak says:

    Thanks Carol! I occasionally listen to Gretchen’s podcast “Happier”, and she talks about a lot of the same stuff. I’ve thought about reading her book but wondered if it would be redundant since I listen to her podcast. Thanks for the info and Happy New Year!

  3. Happy New Year to you, Julia!

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