BETTER THAN BEFORE by Gretchen Rubin

BETTER THAN BEFORE

Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A slight twist on the happiness message that made Rubin (Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life, 2009, etc.) famous, with few new insights.

Like she did in her best-selling book The Happiness Project (2009), the author uses herself as her own best example. This time, she considers the concept of habits: how we form them, why we break them and how to get better at them. While she cursorily mentions habit research conducted by the likes of Daniel Pink, Charles Duhigg, and Chip and Dan Heath, Rubin doesn’t dig very deeply into their work. Instead, she writes mostly about her own investigations, which often amount to stories from her sister’s struggle with finding a diabetic diet or her own efforts to declutter a messy friend’s apartment. Rubin emphatically refers to these events as experiments, and her findings as research, but there’s scant evidence of the scientific method in her scattered anecdotes. She gives a nod to the field of psychology, offering many personality types and labels that can help you figure out what type of person you are and, thus, the types of interventions that might help you develop better habits. It’s no Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, but the author provides a brief quiz to help readers determine if they are Obligers, Upholders, Questioners or Rebels. It makes sense that self-knowledge should help guide your decisions, and this could be a useful breakdown if Rubin’s default descriptions didn’t skew so heavily toward her own personality type. As an Upholder, she is drawn toward developing, scheduling and carrying out habits, after all. Readers looking to keep those New Year’s resolutions should consider consulting Rubin’s suggested reading section for more robust data.

The airy, conversational writing style makes this a quick but not terribly substantial read.

Pub Date: March 17th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-385-34861-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2014




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