Gretchen Rubin’s books: The Happiness Project, The Four Tendencies and Better than Before 4


Happiness Project Four Tendencies Better Than Before

“It’s been freeing to focus on what works for me rather than what’s wrong with me.”  

Every once in a while, I stumble onto a book that leads to many more books, but also changes my perspective on life. I didn’t know when I picked up The Happiness Project that I would now be talking about Gretchen Rubin to almost everyone I run into. I went on to read two more of her books, listen to her podcast and follow her on social media. Her views and research on happiness and habits are very thought-provoking and life-changing.

I had The Happiness Project on my list of books to-read for a couple years after seeing it promoted in Bookpages. I finally got around to putting it on my library hold list and had to wait a few months before it was able to be checked out. Then, I dove in, not really knowing much about what the book was about. The Happiness Project is about the year Gretchen Rubin spends trying to make herself happier by focusing on one area of her life each month and keeping track of the improvements she wants to make. She tries to get more energy, works on her marriage and looks at her finances. In December, she tries to keep all her new habits as perfectly as she can. In the end, she finds it’s the little things that make her the happiest. I could relate in my own life as I am trying to focus more on each day and the people in my life to spend my days wisely.

I then looked up what other books Gretchen had written and checked out The Four Tendencies. The Four Tendencies looks at how people meet expectations – internal ones like New Year’s Resolutions and external ones like work deadlines. Upholders meet both fairly easily. Obligers meet external well, but not internal. Need to have outside accountability so internal expectations are external. Questioners only do things for a good reason, which makes all expectations internal. Rebels only do what they want to do when they want to do it. (You can take the quiz to find out who you are here.) The book explained a lot about who I am and how I work as an Upholder. It gives a lot of tips for each tendency in how to find the ways that work so a person can do what he or she wants to do. It applies to family, friendship, work relationships and even the best way to deal with a doctor/patient relationship. I really think everyone should read this book!

(If you’re a podcast person, you can listen to descriptions of all four – the episodes are around 35.)

After delving into The Four Tendencies, I then read another of Gretchen’s books, Better than Before, which is about habits. The book covers how to create good habits and break bad habits, but also spends time going over how different people deal with creating and breaking habits. The book is full of tips and stories and could be very helpful for anyone wanting to look at his or her own habits.

All of Gretchen Rubin’s books are very easy to read and give very practical tips and good advice. She shares many personal stories, which helped me relate to her. (Although, that may also be in part because we are both Upholders.) In the self-improvement category, these books should be at the top of everyone’s list.

Take the Four Tendencies quiz and comment below with your result! 

Buy the books here (affiliate links):

The Happiness Project 

The Four Tendencies 

Better Than Before 


About Sarah Anne Carter

Sarah Anne Carter is a writer and reader. She grew up all over the world as a military brat and is now putting down roots with her family in Ohio. Family life keeps her busy, but any spare moment is spent reading, writing or thinking about plots for novels.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

4 thoughts on “Gretchen Rubin’s books: The Happiness Project, The Four Tendencies and Better than Before