Better Than Before

Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
Narrated by: Gretchen Rubin
Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (2,871 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The author of the blockbuster New York Times best sellers The Happiness Project and Happier at Home tackles the critical question: How do we change?

Gretchen Rubin's answer: through habits. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.

So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits?

Better Than Before answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to allow listeners to understand their habits - and to change them for good. Infused with Rubin's compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy humor, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better Than Before explains the (sometimes counterintuitive) core principles of habit formation.

Along the way Rubin uses herself as guinea pig, tests her theories on family and friends, and answers listeners' most pressing questions - oddly, questions that other writers and researchers tend to ignore:

  • Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do?
  • Sometimes I can change a habit overnight, and sometimes I can't change a habit no matter how hard I try. Why?
  • How quickly can I change a habit?
  • What can I do to make sure I stick to a new habit?
  • How can I help someone else change a habit?
  • Why can I keep habits that benefit others but can't make habits that are just for me?

Whether listeners want to get more sleep, stop checking their devices, maintain a healthy weight, or finish an important project, habits make change possible. Listening to just a few chapters of Better Than Before will make listeners eager to start work on their own habits - even before they've finished the audiobook.

Bonus feature: includes a full episode from the author's podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin in which she discusses how to build happier habits into everyday life.

©2015 Gretchen Rubin (P)2015 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Here, she [Gretchen Rubin] uses her gifts to help you eat right, sleep well, stop procrastinating, and start enjoying all that life has to offer." (Susan Cain, New York Times best-selling author of Quiet)
"Gretchen Rubin combines deep research and observations from her own life to explain how habits emerge and - more important - how they can change. It's indispensable for anyone hoping to overhaul how they (almost unthinkingly) behave." (Charles Duhigg, New York Times best-selling author of The Power of Habit)
"Filled with insights about our patterns of behavior, Better Than Before addresses one of life's big and timeless questions: how can we transform ourselves? In a way that’s thought-provoking, surprising, and often funny, Gretchen Rubin provides us with the tools to build a life that truly reflects our goals and values." (Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and New York Times best-selling author of Thrive)

What listeners say about Better Than Before

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Other Habit Books are Way Better!

I am engulfed in habit research right now. One book after another like, Atomic Habits has literally made my life better by helping me add and break habits. I found that Gretchen's approach felt rude and boastful. She seems to have the best side of every description and regardless if she meant to or not the reader of the other types feels put down. She doesn't seem to struggle with many basic habit issues which is great for her but makes her very hard to relate to. This is the first review I have ever written. I felt so disheartened about her (what felt like) judgments of me and her gloating about herself I wanted to save you from experiencing the same negative feelings.

23 people found this helpful

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Life changing

Game changer even for someone who has had relative habit success in the past. Loved that the narrator was the author herself.

11 people found this helpful

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At first I didn't like it.

The author is a good reader and writer and is self deprecating in an endearing way. However she invents these 4 constructs/categories of people called obligers, upholders, rebels, and questioners. These are a theme throughout the book, but I want to yell at her she can't just make up categories based on anecdotal information and without a lot of data. She is smart enough to know this, but apparently she doesn't care. The book is great despite this. It is great because you get a window into the way an organized mind works. I sort of think it is unintentionally great (my apologies to the author). For example anybody that would make up these categories and start putting people into them has a certain way of thinking that may be a hint to staying organized (compartmentalizing a lot of things, if it works for you go with it). The content itself is also very good. She has great insights into how important it is to not let others dictate ones own likes and dislikes. She has great insight into adulthood, which I get the feeling might be her next book. It can be annoying to listen to one with an obviously high level of executive functioning tell people with likely less levels of executive functioning what to do, but you'll get over it, because the book is very helpful, and very well written and read.

32 people found this helpful

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I improved my habits immediately!

I loved this book. It was exactly what I was looking for and I was able to use Gretchin's insight to immediately improve my habits. She has collected all (or a lot!) of habit-relevant information and sorts it in a way that allows the reader to gain a new perspective on how meaningful and important it is to understand what type of person they are and their intentions and actions to make long lasting habits. Actually the information is straightforward and most of which we already know (for example, consistency is important for habits) but she goes into detail and gives examples that emphasize how and why different things are important. It gave me the insight and motivation to feel like I could create any habit that I wanted to and I've been able to implement a lot of her advice.

One thing to note is that this is the type of book that would be useful to have in hard copy so you can flip back to each chapter and reflect on what she said, so I had to take notes during one of the key chapters which means I couldn't be keeping busy while listening to the book. I will likely go buy the book to have in my library.

I'm giving this book 4 stars because although I found it very helpful, the framework about personality types that Gretchin presents didn't fit well for me personally. I don't fall into any one of her categories, and she uses these categories as the foundation for the rest of the book. I still learned a great deal and am very happy with this purchase !

7 people found this helpful

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Best Self-Help book I've ever read

Of all the self-help books I've ever read this one is the most transformative probably, it's up there with the Myers-Briggs books and others for sure.

It's not just a series of suggestions or incentive to help you have the life you want. It is a psychological and social logical breakdown of why people do what they do and what motivates them. I found it extremely helpful. Not only an understanding myself but an understanding other people and how to help motivate them also.

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Loved this book!

I approached the new year realizing that if I wanted to have time for some things, I had to give up time on others. I realized I needed new habits- not just new habits but a plan for creating them and sticking with them. Gretchen has a plan snd as always her simple yet wise words can be a help to many!

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Fantastic!

loved this book! It was easy to follow along with like listening to my best friend talk story with me. started implementing the suggestions she makes in the book & have had huge success with my new habits!

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Read the four tendencies instead

This book needed an editor. It’s the rambling story of how the author set some habits for herself. Not helpful if you aren’t an upholder like her. I had to stop after the 8th whimsical anecdote in a row and after she said drinking more water is a useless goal. Not responsible advice.

4 people found this helpful

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Hits the spot!

I highly recommend "Better Than Before". What a smooth, enjoyable, educational, intelligent, and actionable read. I can't wait to hear more about the tendencies! Gretchen Rubin does a superb job of gathering data into a format that is so very accessible and usable, and I'm glad she chose to be the narrator - it really worked to hear the book from her voice.

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Works on Absolutes, but Worthy Ideas

This is a good little book about habits. I found it interesting, but her categories are so absolute that I found my own tendencies bouncing between the presented extremes quite a bit. I suspect it's like that for many people. Application of her ideas in my own life will require some amalgamation of contradictory suggestions. Even so, the ideas presented here are worthy of consideration.

13 people found this helpful