The Best Book on ‘Habits’ I’ve Ever Read.
I’m very lucky I wrote my own book about habits before reading this one. It would have discouraged me from tackling the subject.
It’s complete. It’s sincere. It’s witty. It’s well researched and to the point.
I read ‘The Power of Habit’ and several S.J. Scott’s books, and they all have their place. I read a few positions about the brain’s topology and habits. But “Better Than Before” is absolutely fantastic. It covers every angle – developing good habits, New Year’s resolutions, and breaking bad habits. It tackles every obstacle, such as: going cold turkey, abstaining and avoiding temptations. It’s also full of practical advice. I felt like I was at the dinner table full of amazing dishes, and I was delighted.
It was written in a manner very close to my heart – in the first person, sharing stories, not quoting the university studies’ results and best of all– providing the whole range of techniques and approaches to each task.
My only reservation
to this book is the extensive vocabulary introduced during the whole text: Obliger, Abstainer, Questioner, Lark, Rebel… and so on. For the first half of the book, I think those nicknames are unnecessarily frippery, and girlish empty inventions. Then I grudgingly accepted the fact that the new vocabulary in this book actually makes some sense.
“Better Than Before” doesn’t focus on the specific ways to build good habits or break bad ones. It focuses on providing the whole spectrum of solutions and they have their place in relation to the individual’s personality quirks.
Some of us can indulge moderately and some cannot. Some actually like to be told what they should do, while others react to orders like a cat in a frenzy.
The key to successful habit management is knowing yourself; I realized this, thanks to reading “Better Than Before“. Now I know why I was able to introduce a few dozen daily habits within few weeks. I started from analyzing myself. The rest was an afterthought.
So, go and self-analyze yourself a bit. Once you get some self-knowledge, go back to this book and you will feel like a kid in a candy store. You will have a choice between the whole range of useful techniques of habit development (or destruction).
As I’ve mentioned, I appreciated the author’s voice. She shared plenty stories from her life, as well as stories from the lives of her friends and readers. This made this hitherto technical and mundane subject more personal. When she talked about scientific research, she always immediately supported them with some personal story. She was quite generous in openly sharing her family life. Her transparency was touching.
I’m a Questioner. I’m skeptical about research and studies, and don’t trust their conclusions to be applicable in my life. They are great for describing mass behaviors, but they aren’t necessarily the best way to implement change in individual cases. Quoting researches usually annoys me. But Gretchen didn’t quote them. She translated academic jargon into understandable English and provided just a brief conclusion of each research (and also created an extensive appendix pointing out all her sources). Of course, she added great stories illustrating these conclusions.
I wholeheartedly recommend “Better Than Before”
to anyone interested in habit formation. It’s a gem.
It’s doubly valuable for me, because I’m also starting a coaching practice. Previously, I was focused on what worked for me and tried to force it on my clients. After reading “Better Than Before” I got access to priceless information about different types of personalities, and how they react to different techniques of changing habits.