Habits to Make You Happier

The posts this month have focused on productivity and in forming better work habits so that you can stay focused and get things done.  So I think the best suggestion to help you incorporate these ideas is for you to read a great book on good habits! The book I’m recommending is Gretchen Rubin’s book on habits, Better Than Before.  

I already mentioned in the Thanksgiving week post that I was a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s podcast co-hosted with her sister Elizabeth Craft, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen is a writer and her latest books have revolved around the subject of happiness.  I’ve read The Happiness Project and her recent book on habits “to build a happier life,” Better Than Before.

I really enjoy Gretchen’s style of writing — it’s so engaging and personable! See, I feel like I know her — so I call her Gretchen! But I’ll get back to a more professional tone for this mini-synopsis ….

Rubin outlined her journey of research and self-awareness with forming new or changing old habits.  She helps you see that you, too, can transform your life by keying into the power of habits.  Additionally, Rubin intersperses brain science and other research to back up her points.  (So the book is evidence-based — though my professor-side would appreciate direct citations, I realize that method would interfere with the friendly reading style of the book.) 

In Better than Before, Rubin identifies seven general areas for which people commonly seek out change (her “Essential Seven”).  The journey to change begins by helping you to know your tendencies for fulfilling internal and external obligations or expectations. Through her research, Rubin generated her framework, The Four Tendencies.  You can take a quiz on her website to find out which Tendency fits your personal profile.  Once you know your tendency, it is easier to choose the strategies that will help you to change or form new habits.  

“The most important thing is to know ourselves, and to choose the strategies that work for us” (Gretchen Rubin, 2015, Note to Reader)

Rubin outlined 21 strategies to help you build and maintain your habits in relation to the Essential Seven areas of change. The first two strategies help you to know yourself better and involve identifying your tendency and recognizing your particular quirks or personality traits that underlie your behaviors. There are four foundational “pillars of habits”: monitoring, foundation, scheduling, and accountability. Three strategies are associated with the ability to start over or form new habits: first steps, clean slate, and lightening bolt. Nine strategies (abstinence, convenience, inconvenience, safeguards, loophole-spotting, distraction, reward, treats, pairing) are related to our desires to “make life easier and more pleasant.” The strategies of clarity, identity, and other people help us to look at our habits in light of our values and knowledge about ourselves. 

This book is packed full of practical wisdom — tips and strategies to help you figure out how you look at the world and then using that knowledge to change behaviors to help you lead a happier life. I highly recommend this really excellent book!  

You can pick up Better Than Before or any of Gretchen’s books, on her website or at any bookseller, like Amazon. Get the book for reading on your Kindle or eReader, or read or listen to the book highlights on the Blinkist app. (Check out my Resources page if you want more info on the Blinkist app.) 

Click Here for Books by Gretchen Rubin

Happy Reading!