Habits = Happiness? Gretchen Rubin – Better than Before [Book review]

Gretchen Rubin is an American author, blogger and speaker on the subjects of habits, happiness, and human nature. Having listened to her podcast ‘Happier’ and found it both fascinating and helpful, I decided to read her book: ‘Better than before’.

Gretchen’s writing about habits is based on academic studies and her own research. She has created a concept called ‘The 4 Tendencies’ (you can take a quiz for free to find yours on her website). Your tendency is determined by how you respond to expectations. It also affects how you form new habits.

The 4 Tendencies are:
-Obliger – responds to outer rules but not to inner rules. (This is my tendency!)
-Questioner – questions all rules, but can follow rules they endorse (effectively making all rules into inner rules)
-Upholder – responds to both inner and outer rules
-Rebel – resists all rules

So far, Gretchen has discussed how habits are formed, the best ways to stick to new habits and the loopholes which we use to break habits. I think this last section has been the most difficult to listen to as I recognised the loopholes I am guilty of using, but according to Gretchen this is normal!


I’ve had a lot of success using what I’ve learnt to start some new habits and avoid the dreaded loopholes. If you would like to do the same or are interested in the psychology of habit formation I would definitely recommend reading this book!

Check out Gretchen’s weekly podcast ‘Happier’ where she discusses her habit research with her sister Elizabeth as it will give you a taster of her work.

happier podcast logo

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