Sunday, March 24, 2019

Review: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

Title: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Published: December 2015, Broadway Books
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Source: Personal copy

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.

My thoughts: I don't tend to read a lot of non-fiction, nor do I read a lot of self-help books, but I recently read a few articles by Gretchen Rubin and became interested in her work. Digging a little deeper, I saw she has written a few books and I decided I would start with this one - I'm a big believer in establishing good habits - and this one peaked my curiosity.

This is a book that is meant to be read and then reread because it is chock full of information and needs time to be internalized. I have made notes and added sticky notes to this book as I read it and know that it will be a treasured part of my library. Not having read any of Gretchen's previous books, I wasn't familiar with some of her terminology, so that took some time for me to get used to that, whereas if you already know her work, that will be a nice refresher. I do plan on reading more of her Four Tendencies, as I find this to be equally fascinating.

I liked the way this book was set up. It's quite clear that a lot of research went into it, but it never once felt like I was reading a research paper. I liked that she asked a lot of questions - this really makes you think about how the different aspects of putting a habit into place and what may or may not work for me, given my personality and what motivates me.

I'm looking forward to putting some of these practices into place to establish some new habits, particularly regarding bedtime as I hope it will help with my bouts of insomnia. Have you read this book or any of Gretchen's other books? I know she just wrote a new book that I am quite eager to check out - Outer Order, Inner Calm.



  1. I haven't read either book but I do so enjoy her podcast Happier and the one her sister does Happier in Hollywood. Both so much fun.

    1. I just found the podcast and listened to the 1st episode! Now I have to find the time to catch up...there are 213 of them :)

  2. I've read all her books, but this is my favourite. It's so practical, and I've relistened to it too. I'd highly recommend her podcast too.

    1. I'm so glad to hear that...I really liked this book! I found the podcast and have already listened to the first I just need to find the time to catch up!


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