Author: Gretchen Rubin
This book is based on the idea that, when we rely on habits, our life becomes simpler. From the first few pages I was hooked: “Habits make change possible by freeing us from decision making and from using self-control” (pg 5).
Gretchen Rubin uses the question, “How does someone respond to an expectation?” to classify people into basic tendencies and distinctions: Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, and Rebel. She has found that when we know ourselves, it is easier to use specific strategies (She gives quite a few!) to assist in forming habits.
Parts I liked best:
The following idea was so inspiring to me: “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” (pg 6).
I have long been a seeker of simplicity, and the idea that habits would help me avoid extra stress was quite a new concept. I enjoyed reading through the different strategies to see what resonated with me. For example, scheduling has always helped me, but I didn’t understand how powerful of a tool this really could become. Now I am using this strategy to its fullest and enjoying the benefits of less decision-making and stress.
How this book made an impact in my life, especially as a mother:
Gretchen Rubin makes the point, “When anxious or tired, we fall back on our habits, whether bad or good” (pg 7). As a mother I am often both anxious and tired, and I wanted my “default” to be higher than it has been.
I have loved finding ways to implement this book’s strategies in my day-to-day. It has been challenging and rewarding to try and see where a good habit would help me, and how I could rid myself of a bad habit.
Cultivating habits has become much more exciting and realistic than setting goals because habits are maintained, whereas goals focus on finishing. I loved the idea that “continuous progress is opposite of a finish line” (pg 200) because there really is no “finish line” in mothering.
Here are some examples that have impacted my daily mothering:
- The Clean Slate strategy has helped me take advantage of change (the start of a new school year, long holiday breaks, beginning a new extracurricular activity, the addition of a new baby etc.) and using them to my advantage (rather than the disruption causing partial paralysis for me).
- Cueing in to the strategy of Convenience has taught me how to find success with those little daily things that really do add up. These days I am more likely to read an ongoing chapter book to my kids and pack healthy lunches. We’re also learning how to be set up for success with homework.
- I’m working on using Safeguards to help me avoid falling into the trap of breaking a habit. Now when I resort to shouting “Hurry up!” or I start to nag, I can treat it as a minor stumble rather than a major fall and I am working to start looking for positives and praising instead.
- The strategy of Pairing has helped me immensely in getting things accomplished throughout the day. I am celebrating little wins all the time when I take my supplements I used to neglect, completing necessary housework much more efficiently, and I’m working on spending a few minutes each day teaching my girls lyrics to simple church songs that we love—something I’ve always wanted to do but never really could find a way to do until now.
- The strategy of Clarity has been invaluable in my weekly reviews. Now that I recognize how often I am faced with indecision, I am able to find new solutions. My to-do list is shorter, I am learning how to say yes to the best things, and getting more of the right things done each week.
- The strategy of Accountability has taught me that I am more likely to follow through when I make a commitment to someone else. On the flip side, I’m learning to not over commit to others. Because I feel immense guilt in letting someone down, I realize sometimes I sacrifice my family’s best interest for others.
Overall I am learning the Promise of Habit: “When we change our habits, we change our lives. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then—and this is the best part—we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over” (pg 12). If I can learn this, then I am better equipped to teach my children. What an amazing set of life skills to send them off in the world with!
QUESTION: What strategies have you used to successfully establish good habits in your life?
CHALLENGE: Take inventory of your life. Where could a new habit make things easier for you?
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Edited by Aubrey Degn and Sarah Monson.