“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!
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.
I recently read another Gretchen Rubin book – Happier at Home. It is similar to The Happiness Project, but Gretchen takes a school year and focuses on making her home a happier place to be. She does this by creating a space that is happy to live in and also focuses on strengthening the relationships with her family members. I really liked how this book focuses on her home and family and would really recommend this to other mothers. My favorite quote from the book is: “In my life, day to day, one practical way to prove my love was to devote my time, attention, and convenience to the people I loved.” I will keep this book in mind as I make daily decisions on how I spend my time and what priorities I want to focus on this next year.
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.
Buy the books here (affiliate links):