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Better Than Before

Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

By Gretchen Rubin
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Better Than Before (2015) gives you the strategies to both create and maintain good, healthy habits, and break the habits that don’t serve you.

Key idea 1 of 8

In order to take control of your habits you must know thyself.

Aristotle’s imperative – “Know thyself!” – still rings true today. To ditch bad habits or stick to good ones, you need to know who you are. And you’ll likely fall into one of these four personality types:

If you’re an Upholder, you find it easy to respond to your own and others’ expectations. You always do everything on your to-do list. However, you tend to dawdle when there are no clear-cut rules or expectations.

For example, if going to the gym is in the calendar, an Upholder will go even if the weather is terrible, or she’s tired from work. If it’s not in the calendar, though, she’d probably skip it even if it would be a fine day to work out.

If you scrutinize what’s expected of you and comply only if they make sense to you, you’re more of a Questioner. This usually means that when you want to start a new habit, you take forever to gather momentum.

A Questioner wanting to start a gym habit can benefit from exercise apps or other data sources, because when he sees statistical proof that he’s losing weight, he’ll be more motivated to stick to his gym routine.

If you’re an Obliger, you have no problem meeting expectations when they’re imposed on you, but you find it difficult to impose expectations on yourself. Therefore if you as an Obliger want to go to the gym more, you should get an exercise buddy who’ll pressure you into going.

Finally, if you’re a Rebel, you resist all expectations, whether they come from you or other people. Authenticity and self-determination are your guides. If you're a Rebel you should refrain from putting things in your calendar (if you have one at all) and just say to yourself you're going to the gym today because you want to, not because it's in the calendar.

Which type are you? Knowing this will help you form new habits.

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