WHO IS GRETCHEN RUBIN?
Gretchen Craft Rubin is an American author, blogger and speaker.
Her notable works include
1. Better Than Before
2. The Happiness Project
3. Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill
4. Forty Ways to Look at JFK
5. Happier at Home
6. Power, Money, Fame, Sex
7. Profane Waste
WHAT IS THIS BOOK ABOUT?
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives acts as a instructions manual on how to incorporate new habits, master them and make them part of your day to day life – easily and effortless – without using too much of willpower and self-control.
54 USEFUL POINTERS I PICKED UP FROM THIS BOOK
1. A ‘routine’ is a string of habits, and a ‘ritual’ is a habit charged with transcendent meaning.
2. A behaviour becomes a habit when it no longer requires a decision from you.
3. A habit requires no decision from me, because I’ve already decided.
4. A key step for the Strategy of Monitoring is to identify precisely what action is monitored.
5. Accountability means that we face consequences for what we’re doing—even if that consequence is merely the fact that someone else is monitoring us.
6. Although scheduling time to worry sounds odd, it’s a proven strategy for reducing anxiety.
7. Ask yourself, ‘To what end do I pursue this habit?’
8. Consistency, repetition, no decision—this was the way to develop the ease of a true habit.
9. For this reason, it’s all the more important to try to shape habits mindfully, so that when we fall back on them at times of stress, we’re following activities that make our situation better, not worse.
10. Habit is a good servant but a bad master.
11. Habit makes it dangerously easy to become numb to our own existence.
12. Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life.
13. Habits eliminate the need for self-control.
14. Habits grow strongest and fastest when they’re repeated in predictable ways, and for most of us, putting an activity on the schedule tends to lock us into doing it.
15. Habits make change possible by freeing us from decision making and from using self-control.
16. I concluded that the real key to habits is decision making—or, more accurately, the lack of decision making.
17. I’ve learned to put great store in my own observations of everyday life, because while laboratory experiments are one way to study human nature, they aren’t the only way.
18. If we’re trying to persuade people to adopt a habit, we have more success if we consider their Tendency.
19. In ordinary terms, a habit is generally defined as a behavior that’s recurrent, is cued by a specific context, often happens without much awareness or conscious intent, and is acquired through frequent repetition.
20. It takes self-control to establish good habits.
21. It’s easier to stick to a habit when we see, with clarity, the connection between the habit and the value it serves.
22. It’s helpful to begin with habits that most directly strengthen self-control; these habits serve as the Foundation for forming other good habits.
23. It’s not easy, as an adult, to make a new friend. It can feel very awkward to say,
24. Most important, perhaps, the Strategy of Scheduling helps us make time for the things that are most important to us.
25. Research shows that we tend to believe what we hear ourselves say, and the way we describe ourselves influences our view of our identity, and from there, our habits.
26. Research suggests that people feel more in control and less anxious when engaged in habit behavior.
27. Scheduling also forces us to confront the natural limits of the day.
28. Scheduling can also be used to restrict the time spent on an activity.
29. Scheduling is an invaluable tool for habit formation: it helps to eliminate decision making; it helps us make the most of our limited self-command; it helps us fight procrastination.
30. Scheduling is one of the most effective ways to building better habits.
31. Scheduling one activity makes that time unavailable for anything else. Which is good—especially for people who have trouble saying no.
32. Self-measurement brings self-awareness, and self-awareness strengthens our self-control.
33. Surprisingly often, when people want to improve their habits, they begin with a habit that won’t deliver much payoff in return for the habit-formation energy required.
34. Surprisingly, stress doesn’t necessarily make us likely to indulge in bad habits; when we’re anxious or tired, we fall back on our habits, whether bad or good.
35. The convenience of group membership makes it easier to become friends.
36. The fact is, changing a habit is much more challenging if that new habit means altering or losing an aspect of ourselves.
37. The first and most important habits question is: ‘How does a person respond to an expectation?’
38. The most important thing is to know ourselves, and to choose the strategies that work for us.
39. The Strategy of Scheduling is a powerful weapon against procrastination.
40. This freedom from decision making is crucial, because when I have to decide—which often involves resisting temptation or postponing gratification—I tax my self-control.
41. To a truly remarkable extent, we’re more likely to do something if it’s convenient, and less likely if it’s not.
42. To apply the Strategy of Scheduling, we must decide when, and how often, a habit should occur.
43. To change a habit effectively, you need to understand your ’tendency’.
44. To understand how people are able to change, we must understand habits.
45. Two kinds of clarity support habit formation: clarity of values and clarity of action.
46. Unsurprisingly, we tend to underestimate how much we eat and overestimate how much we exercise.
47. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then—and this is the best part—we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over.
48. We face two kinds of expectations: outer expectations (meet work deadlines, observe traffic regulations) and inner expectations (stop napping, keep a New Year’s resolution).
49. We often learn more from one person’s idiosyncratic experiences than we do from scientific studies or philosophical treatises.
50. When we change our habits, we change our lives.
51. When we try to form a new habit, we set an expectation for ourselves. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand how we respond to expectations.
52. With habits, we conserve our self-control.
53. Would you like to get a cup of coffee sometime?
54. Yet one study suggests that when we try to use self-control to resist temptation, we succeed only about half the time, and indeed, in a large international survey, when people were asked to identify their failings, a top choice was lack of self-control.
WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO CHANGE?
Changes we seek, fall into the ‘Essential Seven’.
THE ESSENTIAL SEVEN
1. Eat and drink more healthfully (give up sugar, eat more vegetables, drink less alcohol)
2. Exercise regularly
3. Save, spend, and earn wisely (save regularly, pay down debt, donate to worthy causes, stick to a budget)
4. Rest, relax, and enjoy (stop watching TV in bed, turn off a cell phone, spend time in nature, cultivate silence, get enough sleep, spend less time in the car)
5. Accomplish more, stop procrastinating (practice an instrument, work without interruption, learn a language, maintain a blog)
6. Simplify, clear, clean, and organize (make the bed, file regularly, put keys away in the same place, recycle)
7. Engage more deeply in relationships—with other people, with God, with the world (call friends, volunteer, have more sex, spend more time with family, attend religious services)
THE 4 TENDENCIES
1. Upholders. Respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.
2. Questioners. Question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified.
3. Obligers. Respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations (my friend on the track team).
4. Rebels. Resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
WHY ARE THESE TENDENCIES IMPORTANT?
• Our Tendency colors the way we see the world and therefore has enormous consequences for our habits.
• Knowing our Tendency can help us frame habits in a compelling way.
• If we’re trying to persuade people to adopt a habit, we have more success if we consider their Tendency.
Upholders respond readily to outer expectations and inner expectations.
Because Upholders feel a real obligation to meet their expectations for themselves, they have a strong instinct for self-preservation, and this helps protect them from their tendency to meet others’ expectations.
Questioners question all expectations, and they respond to an expectation only if they conclude that it makes sense.
Because Questioners like to make well-considered decisions and come to their own conclusions, they’re very intellectually engaged, and they’re often willing to do exhaustive research.
Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations.
Obligers may find it difficult to form a habit, because often we undertake habits for our own benefit, and Obligers do things more easily for others than for themselves.
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
Rebels sometimes frustrate even themselves, because they can’t tell themselves what to do.
1. Commercial cleaning – clean and declutter during commercials
2. Focus on actions, not outcomes
3. Give yourself daily treats – not food, but spoil yourself with something as it increases will-power
4. have power hours – do an hour of niggling chores you never get to for an hour every once in awhile
5. If sitting is the new smoking health-wise, set the timer to move every 45 minutes or so
6. It’s easier to change our surroundings than ourselves
7. Keep a daily time log – see where your time is going
8. Loved the section on abstinence being easier than moderation (for some people some of the time). Great insight, and a unique observation.
9. The recommended reading list includes 60 books!
10. Once we’re ready to begin, begin now
11. Pairing – pair something less enjoyable with something fun: exercise with watching British mysteries
12. Rubin’s story of reading Why We Get Fat and changing overnight was fascinating to me.
13. Stand on one leg while brushing teeth – improves balance
14. The danger of rewards and the benefits of treats was very good as well.
15. Use the power of first steps – take little or big steps towards a goal today
16. Walk & carry – when you walk from room to room, see if there’s something you could take with you to keep clean
17. What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while
LOY MACHEDO’S OVERALL RATING
8.5 Out Of 10
Personal Branding Strategist