Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review: Better Than Before

I read the book, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin for Blogging For Books . It's basic premise and question is, "how we change" and I believe her conclusion is that we change by developing and keeping good habits. She has a lot of practical advice paired with research for all her habits she discusses. 

She discusses four types of personalities when it comes to making habits, the upholder, obliger, the rebel, the questioner. She states she is an upholder and for upholders her material might be relatable. Her ability to empathize with those different than her seems to be a little bit short sighted. I am a rebel (according to her book) but I disagreed with rebels just breaking rules, struggling with discipline and being seen as lazy teenagers. Most people I know would describe me as very disciplined and mastering a habit has never been difficult for me. I like don't like the status quo and I enjoy breaking rules :) However, I know that discipline has it's dark side. 

As a Marriage and Family Therapist who has worked in treatment centers specifically for those struggling with eating disorders I was uncomfortable with all her talk about eating less sugar, exercising more and wanting to lose a few pounds. It felt so typical to me and completely unaware of a very large population who is so good at discipline and strict diets that they are now in treatment centers for starving themselves or over-exercising. I think I felt a bit protective of this population as she made it seem that everyone just wants and needs to lose a few pounds! (Does this have to be the American dream?!) I found the research to have many holes in it especially after working with nutritionists and diet techs in my profession. Anyway, I digress :)

I did enjoy her practical advice on organizations and un-cluttering her home. I did feel she might be over-functioning for everyone around her by offering to clean out their closets for them. It's one thing to do something for yourself, it's another to need to everyone to do the same as you to lower your anxiety or stress. 

I really enjoyed her previous book, The Happiness Project and I always think her goals on getting more sleep is absolutely admirable (and so important for everyone). It's always hard for me not to over-analyze an author whose book's genre is "self-help" especially when it seems that in order to be "happy" or "better" one needs to do all these things externally to create peace inside. I am more interested in books that go "inside" and because of this intentional soul searching and soul tending, are now able to change a few poor habits. Overall I did not love the book. I would probably rank this as a 2.5

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