Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Better than Before

Habits are the invisible architecture of our daily lives, says author and influencer Gretchen Rubin. In her latest book Better than Before she identifies four tendencies that affect how a person is able to change their life.

I am an Upholder, responding equally well to both external and internal motivation. For more explanation and to see which you are, visit Gretchen's blog here. 

This tendency may explain why I'm so keen to read books like Better than Before, to always be on a quest for self-improvement, and to be (quite literally) a Gretchen Rubin superfan.

Gretchen is also the author of the books The Happiness Project (which inspired me to start this blog) and Happier at Home. She considers the new book a prequel to those, as good habits answer the question, “How do you start doing those things that lead to happiness?”

In much the same way that Gretchen considers herself a "street scientist" who can be more influenced by the stories of ordinary change (a datapoint of one), here are my habits.

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Church -- a good friend who has a strong faith asked me at the beginning of Lent if I was going to church regularly and I was sad to say no. Since then, this has become a non-negotiable in my weekend.

Outdoors -- the weather has been so much nicer this week so I've been leaving our doors wide open, but this habit really got its start in the colder temps of winter when I would force myself to walk outdoors.

Housekeeping -- Each week I do an adaptation of the Flylady's weekly home blessing hour that works for me. Every morning I make my bed and every night I run the dishwasher. And I've been decluttering here and there.

Moving more -- I'm really out of shape but I'd like to be strong. So I've been running a little bit, very early in the morning, before it even gets light outside so no one will see me. Today I ran around the block without stopping. My lungs burned and my legs felt like jelly, but I ran for more than the length of an entire Taylor Swift song and that's progress for me.

Eating better -- For me this is all about less sugar. Right now I'm just trying to cut out the obvious culprits especially soda pop. Which makes me an abstainer but in a moderate way.

Reading everyday -- I am making good progress on my GoodReads challenge. Our local library offers audiobooks through the Hoopla app, and since there are many books I want to glean information from but not necessarily read the words, I'm using that to maximize my reading progress!

Email -- I've never had a set time for answering messages and feel so badly when I have unanswered emails, comments, etc. so I'm working on developing a time during my working day to incorporate this necessary function (rather than just try to answer things on the fly).

Similarly, I've had better productivity at the office this year by simply keeping track of my working hours. I use an Excel spreadsheet to record when I arrive, when I leave, and what I've accomplished vs. what needs to be done each day.

These habits fall within the seven categories that Gretchen identifies in the introduction of Better than Before, called "Decide Not to Decide."

I highly recommend this book! Have you read it yet? Do you plan to?

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love to read what you have to say. ~Carrie

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