What I am reading: Better Than Before – Mastering the Habits of Our Every Day Lives

Our habits not only define us but reveal our personality traits

I am fascinated how our brains are all wired differently. As a mom, none of my kids are at all alike. They are each their own unique person. Watching each of us go through our daily routines and habits reveal so much about our personalities and how we are all wired.

For example, my daughter has big emotions and a tender heart. She is super creative and loves showing off her artistic talents. She’s also a people pleaser and is the first to volunteer to clean up her room or help mom clean up the kitchen.

My older son is your typical noisy, destructive, rough-housing boy. But he is also very observant, inquisitive and cuddly. He asks amazing questions and makes the most profound comments. He also has some killer dance moves.

My youngest has a sharp eye for detail. Even as a toddler, he notices the smallest things. He often tests every piece of furniture or cupboard in our house for vulnerabilities (he puts my baby-proofing skills to shame). He’s obsessed with doors and light switches and is fascinated by how they work.

Different habits, different personalities

In Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before, we dive into how habits are formed, broken or changed in different people. I read this book in just a few days. It reads pretty well. Gretchen often gives many personal examples which can feel redundant at times, but it does a good job supporting the layers of data given to categorize us into different creatures of habit. Many of us fit into one if not a combination of the following: Upholder, Obliger, Rebel, and Questioner. When it comes to breaking or changing habits, we usually fall into an Abstainer or Moderator category. She breaks down why some of us are so resistant to habits while others are more motivated to embrace them. Do we behave the same with simple habits as we do with more complex habits? Why do we do things we know are bad for us?

I have to say I learned a lot about myself, and also felt more confused about myself at the same time. I think I am a combination of a Questioner and an Obliger. And when dealing with habits myself, I have been successful in both moderator and abstainer approaches. I may end up giving this book a second read in a year or so to see if I still see the same characteristics in myself.

When I’m working, the Questioner in me has to have all the facts about the project and I have to be in agreement with it. Otherwise, it is very distracting because I end up asking why I should even bother or wonder about how this fits in the grand scheme of things. On the other hand, the Obliger in me really wants to please my clients and directors so much that their (good or bad) feedback can totally make or break my resolve.

The more we grow, the more we know

I can apply this information as I watch my kids grow and learn more about who they are. My daughter and two sons could easily be an Obliger, Rebel, and Questioner, respectively. It will be interesting to see where they land in this scope in the future.

If you’re interested in the breakdown about how habits are formed, broken and changed, definitely give this book a read. Gretchen throws in a relatable mix of her own personal habits including stories from her and her family. Hopefully, you might learn a thing or two about yourself!


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