Book Spotlight: Better than Before

Photo Credit: gretchenrubin.com

What it first taught me: Habit isn’t about creating a routine or writing a scheduled day but is a sum of small things that we do that makes up our life.

Gretchen and I live in two different worlds. She is, from this book she’s written,  more of the organized, planned, and scheduled lady. I am more, shall I say, spontaneous. Rewiring my habit means constantly thinking whether or not I should do this instead of that. Being mindful of even the minuscule choices I’ll make seems to be too overwhelming. However, despite the work dedicated to shifting my gears towards a new (and better) path, I decided to explore this book knowing that small collective changes will affect my life in a big way.

‘Better than Before’ is more than just a well curated itinerary, it is the tiny details that we don’t really care to look into that will heavily impact our lives.

So here are my outtakes to Gretchen’s book, Better than Before.

Knowing who you are is essential in changing your habits

Not only did this book made me aware of things I do and the decisions I make, it also helped me know myself more. For starter, I’m an Obliger. I most often function well with outside accountability. Having my husband push me to use the treadmill is more effective than pulling myself out of bed to do so. Knowing that my kids will drink iced tea if I buy one prompts me to ditch my addiction to sugary drinks.

Knowing my Tendency helps me in creating a habit that will work for me.

For a long time, a one-size-fits-all rule has been shoved at us saying that there is only one way to be better at something. Upon discovering the idea of the Four Tendencies, it made me love Gretchen all the more. She has taken the time to categorize individuals and tell them that, like your night cream, you have to find the one that matches your distinct skin type to make it work.

Enough with the finish lines!

My biggest outtake from this book is ditching goals. When I decided to get back in shape, my primary motivation was to wear a swimsuit in summer. I started with running. Then sit-ups. Then pull-ups. Slowly adding something else everyday until I become so tired and worn out every morning that I can’t function the whole day anymore. I stopped the whole madness shortly after a couple of weeks. I figured, working out is not for a mom with three kids like me.

After reading this book, my mind shifted from wanting to wear a bikini to being stronger every day. I stopped with my “summer body goals” and decided I want a lifestyle. I jogged daily, outside if possible or on the treadmill if it’s rainy. I woke up, put my sports bra on and waited till the kids are in school. When vacation came, I brought the kids with me at the park. My husband and I created a habit of daily running. “Run, just run”, is what I tell myself. From racing towards the finish line, I figured that a healthy life doesn’t end.

Habits should be handled with care

As stated in the book, habits are extremely fragile; they are hard to establish and easy to break.

Since then, I shuffled my phone icons so that it’ll be harder for me to find my social media apps. I also created a shortcut for my current e-book and my home alarm system to make it easier for me to read and be reminded to secure our home when we leave. Convenience is key.

We also made sure that every morning, regardless of how the house looks like, we’ll head to the park to exercise with the kids before we start our day. Exercising has given way to healthier meals, resting well and feeling energized. Thus, active living is one of the habit foundations that, if established well, will branch out to other good habits.

Better than Before is filled with nuggets of wisdom on how to live an “Everyday Life in Utopia”. This means we get to use our energy on something else that needs our attention instead of battling whether to eat pizza or peaches.



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