Monday, November 14, 2016

Better Than Before Week 1

Did you read the introduction? (Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin)

I must admit that I really don't have any idea how to conduct a book club on a blog! If you have read my blog in the past, you will remember that Lynn, Leanna, and I read this same book last year (or maybe it was longer than that) and discussed each chapter as we did our long run. Our procedure was to write on a card or on our hand (but this was often sweated off!) key words or phrases that we wanted to discuss while running. I think that for now, as we begin, I will follow this same format. I will list parts of the introduction that were interesting or though-provoking to me, and you can chime in with a comment either about what I listed or your thoughts on a different passage.

And of course, you can just read the book, read the blog posts, read the comments, and not respond at all. That's fine! But it will be fun if at least a few people will participate. :)

"Habits make change possible by freeing us from decision making and from using self-control." (Rubin 5)

  • This is so true. I think that is why Gretchen titled the introduction "Decide Not to Decide."  When something becomes automatic, you don't have to wrestle with yourself each day to make you do that thing. Like when I did the Whole 30. I decided to follow the rules, so I did not have to spend my mental energy trying to decide how much creamer should I put in my coffee, how many M&Ms were too much for a bedtime snack, how many days a week could I drink a Coke in the afternoons.....Once I committed to following the program, the mental part was mostly easy. I did not love every day of the challenge. In fact, most days I am sure I complained about something regarding what I could and could not eat, but it was not hard in the sense that I did not have to do the mental gymnastics every morning.  The decision was made. I followed the plan.

"Habits mean we don't strain ourselves to make decisions, weigh choices, dole out rewards, or prod ourselves to begin. Life becomes simpler, and many daily hassles vanish." (Rubin 6)
  • Can you think of a habit you have that while it may have been difficult to establish, now that it is part of your daily or weekly life, the hassles regarding that habit have vanished? Some examples may include morning Bible reading and prayer, bedtime rituals for your children, regular exercise, etc. When we make the initial decision to do something, by default, we don't have to decide every day. If you decide to not check your phone while you are eating a meal when your family, then every time you eat with your family, you don't have to decide whether or not it's a good time to look at your phone. You have already decided that family mealtimes are not the time to check your phone, so you are free from making that decision repeatedly. This made such good sense to me!
  • Gretchen listed the "Essential Seven", which are areas where most people desire to foster good habits. Do any of these stand out to you? I need to work on habits under #4 and #7.

"We feel frantically busy, but also feel that we're not spending enough time on the things that really matter." (Rubin 9)
  • Well this pretty much sums up my life! That's why I made my 10 Year Goal list, so I could see where I wanted to be in 10 years (in the areas of life that are important), and begin making choices that move me toward that goal right now.
"But I knew that different people need different solutions, so I aimed to identify every possible option." (Rubin 10)
  • This is the what the rest of the book is about. Identifying your personality and how you respond to outer and inner expectations. When you can identify these things, you can create good habits and eliminate bad habits in ways that work with your personality. 
That's all for this week. Please leave a comment if you wish to discuss anything I listed or above or another part of the introduction that resonated with you.

I can't wait to hear from you!


  1. The whole concept of the book "decide not to decide" has been eye opening to me. I never thought of habits in that way. So just one page in and I've gained something from this book. Once you make a decision, stick to it and everything becomes much easier. I guess I've done that in small ways before without realizing. About a year ago I decided to no longer drink soft drinks, sweet tea, and creamer in my coffee - I made that decision so when we order lunch at work or when I'm eating out I don't even think about the question "What do you want to drink?" the answer is always water or at Starbucks "Blonde Roast, Black" I've forgotten there are other choices for me to choose because for me there aren't. (of course there may be the occasional treat of a Coke at the movies on a special occasion or a peppermint mocha during the holiday season at Starbucks):) Taking this idea means I need to go ahead and make some decisions about things that are in important to me and healthy habits I would like to improve on (easier typed than done). In the Essential 7 I think all 7 could easily find major improvements in my life, but I really want to focus on #3, #6, & #7.

    1. Yay! I'm glad you like the book! It gets much more fun as she asks questions for you to ask yourself to figure out your tendencies so you can create and stick to new habits. My kids know that at restaurants we always order water (except for very special occasions). So we have decided, and now we don't have to decide every time.
      Thanks for commenting! :)

  2. I read ahead a little bit and figured out my tendency (I think). So I spent the first chapter questioning and challenging, which gives you some clue as to my tendency! Ha!

    This is definitely how I live my life, in that I have many habits that are ingrained, but lots that aren't. (I once read that Steve Jobs wore the exact same outfit every day because it was one less thing to think about. I love that! But I'd never do it, b/c I love clothes.)

    For me food is really easy. I can eat the same things over and over again. When we got out to eat, I always order the same stuff. I rotate between two breakfasts and two lunches every day. I'd do the same for dinner but I don't think my family appreciates monotony in meals the way I do.

    Other habits for me are tidying and keeping organized.

    One thing I find difficult is to keep a habit (like exercise) at the same time every day. I exercise almost every day except Sunday, but sometimes it's 7am (like today) and sometimes it's 5 pm....or somewhere in between. I find that doing it at the same time every day is boring! Strong words for someone who eats the same thing over and over again. ;) I also do not like to have a set bedtime--if I'm tired, I go to bed early, and if I have a big breath of energy, I'll stay up late. So I value habits, but I also value flexibility in implementation, I guess.

    I think out of the essential 7 I do pretty well w/ most things but would like to see improvement in #4 (getting enough sleep! and less time on social media!) and #7 (contact with others--sending cards, visiting people. etc).

    1. Thank you for sharing, Polly!

      Regarding your liking to keep habits but vary the time for some. I am just the opposite. I do not like to vary the time for my exercise, but of course, because of life, I have to. If I could, I would live my life in the same exact order every day. I don't think I would be bored! I would find comfort in the routine. However, I'm like you--some of my habits are set in stone, and some I struggle with because of the variation of when I can do them (like exercise, school planning, house cleaning, etc.)

      One habit that I am trying to figure out the best time and way to implement is regular housecleaning. I long for a schedule of cleaning that I can accomplish every single day. But every day is different, and each day usually holds surprises, so I don't have a set habit for this.

      I plan to figure it out though! :)