A NOTE TO THE READER
Better Than Before tackles the question: How do we change? One answer—by using habits.
Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life. We repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence, and our future. If we change our habits, we change our lives.
But that observation just raises another question: Okay, then, how do we change our habits? That’s what this book seeks to answer.
But while Better Than Before explores how to change your habits, it won’t tell you what particular habits to form. It won’t tell you to exercise first thing in the morning, or to eat dessert twice a week, or to clear out your office. (Well, actually, there is one area where I do say what habit I think is best. But only one.)
The fact is, no one-size-fits-all solution exists. It’s easy to dream that if we copy the habits of productive, creative people, we’ll win similar success. But we each must cultivate the habits that work for us. Some people do better when they start small; others when they start big. Some people need to be held accountable; some defy account- ability. Some thrive when they give themselves an occasional break from their good habits; others when they never break the chain. No wonder habit formation is so hard.
The most important thing is to know ourselves, and to choose the strategies that work for us.
Before you begin, identify a few habits that you’d like to adopt, or changes you’d like to make. Then, as you read, consider what steps you want to try. You may even want to note today’s date on your book’s flyleaf, so you’ll remember when you began the process of change.
To help you shape your habits, I regularly post suggestions on my blog, and I’ve also created many resources to help you make your life better than before. But I hope that the most compelling inspiration is the book you hold in your hands.
I see habits through the lens of my own experience, so this ac- count is colored by my particular personality and interests. “Well,” you might think, “if everyone forms habits differently, why should I bother to read a book about what someone else did?”
During my study of habits and happiness, I’ve noticed something surprising: I often learn more from one person’s idiosyncratic experiences than I do from scientific studies or philosophical treatises. For this reason, Better Than Before is packed with individual examples of habit changes. You may not be tempted by Nutella, or travel too much for work, or struggle to keep a gratitude journal, but we can all learn from each other.
It’s simple to change habits, but it’s not easy.
I hope that reading Better Than Before will encourage you to harness the power of habits to make change in your own life. Whenever you read this, and wherever you are, you’re in the right place to begin.
IT'S NOT ENOUGH TO BEGIN
Some habit-formation strategies are familiar and obvious—like Monitoring or Scheduling—but others took me more time to understand. As I studied habits, I slowly began to recognize the tremendous importance of the time of beginning.
The most important step is the first step. All those old sayings are really true. Well begun is half done. Don’t get it perfect, get it going. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Nothing is more exhausting than the task that’s never started, and strangely, starting is often far harder than continuing.
That first step is tough. Every action has an ignition cost: getting myself to the gym and changed into my gym clothes can be more challenging than actually working out. That’s why good habits are a tremendous help: they make the starting process automatic.
Without yet having a name for it, in fact, I’d invoked the power of the Strategy of First Steps as I was starting to write this book. I’d spent months reading and taking copious notes, and I had a giant document with a jumble of material about habits. This initial period of research for a book is always exhilarating, but eventually I have to begin the painstaking labor of actual analysis and writing.
What was the most auspicious date to start? I asked myself. The first day of the week, or the month, or the year? Or my birthday? Or the start of the school year? Then I realized that I was beginning to invoke tomorrow logic.
Nope. Begin now. I was ready. Take the first step. It’s enough to begin.
Now is an unpopular time to take a first step. Won’t things be easier—for some not-quite-specified reason—in the future? I have a fantasy of what I’ll be like tomorrow: Future-Gretchen will spontaneously start a good new habit, with no planning and no effort necessary; it’s quite pleasant to think about how virtuous I’ll be, tomorrow. But there is no Future-Gretchen, only Now-Gretchen.
A friend told me about how she used tomorrow logic: “I use a kind of magical thinking to procrastinate. I make up questionable rules like ‘I can’t start working at 10:10, I need to start on the hour’ or ‘It’s already 4:00, it’s too late to start working.’ But the truth is that I should just start.” It’s common to hear people say, “I’ll start my new habit after the holidays are over/I’ve settled into my new job/my kids are a little older.” Or worse, the double-remove: “I’ll start my new habit once I’m back in shape.”
Tomorrow logic wastes time, and also it may allow us to deny that our current actions clash with our intentions. In an argument worthy of the White Queen, we tell ourselves, absolutely, I’m committed to reading aloud to my children, and I will read to them tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow—just not today.
The same tendency can lead us to overcommit to responsibilities that take place in the comfortably distant future—but eventually the future arrives, and then we’re stuck. My father-in-law has a mental habit to correct for that kind of tomorrow logic. He told me, “If I’m asked to do something—give a speech, attend an event—I always imagine that it’s happening next week. It’s too easy to agree to do something that’s six months off, then the time comes, and I’m sorry I agreed to do it.”
When taking the first step toward a new habit, a key question from the Strategy of Distinctions is “Do I prefer to take small steps or big steps?”
Many people succeed best when they keep their starting steps as small and manageable as possible; by doing so, they gain the habit of the habit, and the feeling of mastery. They begin their new yoga routine by doing three poses, or start work on a big writing project by drafting a single sentence in a writing session.
As an exercise zealot, I was pleased when my mother told me that she was trying to make a habit of going for a daily walk.
“But I’m having trouble sticking to it,” she told me.
“How far are you going?”
“Twice around Loose Park,” she told me, “which is about two miles.”
“Try going just once around the park,” I suggested. That worked. When she started smaller, she was able to form the habit.
Small steps can be particularly helpful when we’re trying to do something that seems overwhelming. If I can get myself to take that first small step, I usually find that I can keep going. I invoked this principle when I was prodding myself to master Scrivener, a writers’ software program. Scrivener would help me organize my enormous trove of notes, but I dreaded starting: installing the software; synchronizing between my laptop and desktop computers; and most difficult, figuring out how to use it.
Each day gave me a new opportunity to push the task off until tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’d feel like dealing with it. “Start now,” I finally thought. “Just take the first step.” I started with the smallest possible step, which was to find the website where I could buy the software. Okay, I thought. I can do that. And then I did. I had a lot of hard work ahead of me—it’s a Secret of Adulthood: things often get harder before they get easier—but I’d started. The next day, with a feeling of much greater confidence and calm, I watched the tutorial video. Then I created my document. And then—I started my book.
However, some people do better when they push themselves more boldly; a big challenge holds their interest and helps them persist. A friend was determined to learn French, so he moved to France for six months.
Along those lines, the Blast Start can be a helpful way to take a first step. The Blast Start is the opposite of taking the smallest possible first step because it requires a period of high commitment. It’s demanding, but its intensity can energize a habit. For instance, after reading Chris Baty’s book No Plot? No Problem!—which explains how to write a novel in a month—I wrote a novel in thirty days, as a way to spark my creativity. This kind of shock treatment can’t be maintained forever, but it’s fun and gives momentum to the habit. A twenty-one-day project, a detox, a cleanse, an ambitious goal, a boot camp—by tackling more instead of less for a certain period, I get a surge of energy and focus. (Not to mention bragging rights.) In particular, I love the retreat model. Three times, I’ve set aside a few days to work on a book during every waking hour, with breaks only for meals and for exercise. These periods of intensity help fuel my daily writing habit.
However, a Blast Start is, by definition, unsustainable over the long term. It’s very important to plan specifically how to shift from the intensity of the Blast Start into the habit that will continue indefinitely.
There’s no right way or wrong way, just whatever works.
A lot of us would like a Rubin in our lives ( The Times Magazine)
Gretchen Rubin's thesis is fascinating, persuasive ( Guardian)
This takes on every unhelpful habit you've ever had at home or at work and shows you how you can fix it. A life-changer. I more or less lost three stone as a result of reading this book. And it changed completely how I process email which has saved me thousands of hours. A revelation. (Viv Groskop The Pool)
Rubin's book is about liberating yourself from destructive habits...she is realistic, saying that no one-size-fits-all solution exists ( Evening Standard)
This book struck a nerve. It basically is the book "How to Get Up and Get Dressed," but it works... Once I came to understand habits as harnessing our own laziness - making a habit frees you from decision-making, which you can use to your advantage - my relationship to them changed permanently ( New Yorker)
Just read this book... It's about the psychology of habit and is an addictive and pleasing read (even for someone who is in the habit of reading a lot of such books about, er, changing habits). I strongly recommend it if you are looking to make some permanent changes in your life... It's excellent ( Viv Groskop)
If you need a helping hand to make over your bad habits, American self-help author Gretchen Rubin is your woman. Better Than Before is full of practical advice and strategies on how to build healthier and happier ways of living that last ( Good Housekeeping)
brilliantly addictive, fascinating and transformational ( Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Bookseller)
Do you have a bad habit you're trying to shake, or a good one you wish you could cultivate? Gretchen Rubin is one of the most charming and erudite authors of her generation. Here, she uses her gifts to help you eat right, sleep well, stop procrastinating and start enjoying all that life has to offer. ( Susan Cain, bestselling author of QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING)
Filled with insights about our patterns of behavior, Better Than Before addresses one of life's big and timeless questions: how can we transform ourselves? In a way that's thought-provoking, surprising and often funny, Gretchen Rubin provides us with the tools to build a life that truly reflects our goals and values. ( Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and bestselling author of THRIVE)
truly transformational ( Prima Magazine)
Gretchen Rubin combines deep research and observations from her own life to explain how habits emerge and - more important - how they can change. It's indispensable for anyone hoping to overhaul how they (almost unthinkingly) behave ( Charles Duhigg, bestselling author of THE POWER OF HABIT)
Gretchen Rubin is a writer after my own heart - seriously brilliant, very warm, and funny. I think she's amazing ( Anne Lamott)
Is there a habit in your life you'd like to change? If so, here's your first step: read this book. It's loaded with practical, everyday tips and techniques that will guide you to success. ( Dan Heath, co-author of bestsellers MADE TO STICK, SWITCH and DECISIVE)
Almost everyone wants to be "better" - slimmer, smarter, better looking, more interesting, more productive - and we want to know we're improving, we want the reinforcing evidence. Gretchen Rubin's new masterpiece, Better than Before, shows us how. She shows how to turn vicious cycles into virtuous cycles and how to turn ruts into roads less traveled. The key is in starting and supporting the habits that will turn us into who we want to be. Unlike other books on habits, Rubin's book gives us the specific tools and a blueprint for getting back on track - the fast track. ( Brian Wansink, PhD. author of SLIM BY DESIGN)
Gretchen Rubin's superpower is curiosity. Luckily for us, she's turned her passionate inquiry to the topic of making and mastering habits. Weaving together research, unforgettable examples, and her brilliant insight, Better Than Before is a force for real change. It rearranged what I thought I knew about my habits, and I'm better for it. ( Brené Brown, New York Times bestselling author of DARING GREATLY and THE GIFT OF IMPERFECTION)
With bold and original insights, Gretchen Rubin reveals the hidden truths about how to change our habits-from resisting junk food and hitting the gym to ending procrastination and saving money. Better Than Before is a gem, and the first habit you should form is reading a chapter every night. ( Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of GIVE AND TAKE)
Grab this now! Better Than Before is essential reading. In this generous and actionable book, Gretchen Rubin helps us make sense of how privilege and opportunity make so many of us unhappy, and shows how basic daily choices can free us to make the most of what we have ( Seth Godin, bestselling author of LINCHPIN)
In Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives , Gretchen Rubin picks up where [William] James left off, integrating a wealth of insight from psychology, sociology, and anthropology in an illuminating field guide to harnessing the transformative power of habit in modern life. ( Brain Pickings)
We are totally comfortable calling Gretchen Rubin's new book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, life-changing. ( Better Homes & Gardens)
Rubin...has brought her theory of contentment to the microlevel. ( The Irish Times)
I have read all three of her books, and every suggestion I've tried has made me feel better ( Irish Times)
If anyone can help us stop procrastinating, start exercising or get organized, it's Gretchen Rubin. The happiness guru takes a sledgehammer to old-fashioned notions about change. ( Parade)
We feel exhausted, but also feel jacked up on adrenaline, caffeine and sugar. We feel frantically busy, but also feel that we're not spending enough time on the things that really matter.' Were truer words ever written? ( Arizona Daily Sun)
Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
Description du livre Paperback. État : Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. N° de réf. du libraire GOR006875272
Description du livre Two Roads Publishing, London, 2015. Hardback. État : Mint. Etat de la jaquette : Mint. First Edition. BETTER THAN BEFORE Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. Gretchen Rubin. Two Roads Publishing, London. 2015 First edition ISBN 9781444768992 304pp Hardback. This mint unread copy is bound in cloth covered boards with bright gilt titling to the spine. The unclipped dust wrapper is also in mint condition. Gretchen Rubin, author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, has helped millions of readers get happier. Now she tackles the critical question: How can we make good habits and break bad ones? Many experts suggest one-size-fits-all solutions for habit change, but as we all know from experience, there's no single magic answer. Better Than Before shows us how to understand habits and to change them for good, and gives us the thrill of recognition and relief, because at last, we'll have the vocabulary and framework to change our habits successfully. Solutions exist! Along the way, Rubin uses herself as a guinea pig, tests her theories on family and friends, and answers some of the most pressing questions - oddly, questions that other writers and researchers tend to ignore: - Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do? - I want to help someone else make a change. But how? - Why do practically all dieters gain the weight back - plus more? - How quickly can I change a habit? - Why can I make time for everyone else, but can't make time for myself? Whether you want to get more sleep, finish a project, maintain a healthy weight, or stop checking devices, habits make it possible. With Rubin's signature mix of rigorous research and easy humour, Better Than Before will make us eager to start work on our own habits - even before we've finished the book. Ref KK6 Size: 304pp. N° de réf. du libraire 012316