Everyday Life in Utopia


Anyone who has trouble making changes in life should read Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. I subscribe to her newsletter, so I already knew that I am what she calls an Obliger.

She describes four types of people: Obligers, Upholders, Questioners, and Rebels. Obligers like me keep promises they make to others but not necessarily promises they make to themselves. No wonder I’ve had the same New Year’s resolution to lose weight for every year I can recall and now have even more weight to lose.

Rubin says she is an Upholder, someone who can keep those promises to both others and herself. Questioners, as the name implies, question habits. They’ll make a change if it seems reasonable and logical to do so. Rebels are those recalcitrants who, if told to do one thing, will immediately do the opposite.

Understanding these four personality types is really useful to me. Rubin says Obligers need to set up external accountability in order to follow through. I can see that is so.

Rubin also compares Larks and Owls based on when they are most likely to accomplish tasks. Other dichotomies are underbuyers versus overbuyers, starters versus finishers, abstainers versus moderators, marathoners versus sprinters, and starters versus finishers. Determining ones categories is very enlightening.

Rubin has done an enormous amount of research into the topic of how and why people are motivated to change.  She identifies 21 strategies to try. She also identifies ten common loopholes people hide behind. You’ll see yourself.

This book is packed with information on how to achieve what Rubin’s daughter calls everyday life in Utopia. Sounds good.