Disclosure: I was provided a review copy but all opinions are my own.
Have you mastered positive habits in your everyday life? Gretchen Rubin's latest book, Better Than Before, promises to help you add an extra dose of sunshine and happiness into your life by offering ideas for establishing new habits and reworking old ones, leading to a healthier, happier, more streamlined life. Rubin examines everyday habits, and their positive and negative effects on everything from weight to procrastination, by researching the science behind habits and also testing out positive habit forming techniques herself. This book led me to analyze my own everyday habits, and to and to honestly decide what's working for me and what's not working for me. Rubin gives concrete advice to help overcome some simple hurdles that have made my life just a bit simpler. Here are just a few of the tips that I took away from this fun (and useful!) book.
1. Determine what kind of exercise regimen is likely to truly suit you instead of following the usual herd. Rubin offers some questions to help you establish what style of exercise works for you. I never had truly taken a moment to think about what exercise regimen works best for me. In the past, I've been frustrated in yoga classes because I just can't seem to get through one without my mind wandering to everywhere but where it's supposed to be: focused on my breathing. I've never been a gym-going person because I can't help but to think that gyms are a waste of time and money. Jogging = boring. For me, bicycling works best: It's low cost - I actually save money by riding my bike to work, I feel refreshed after a good ride; plus I like to know that there is one less gas guzzling car on the road: mine. This is what works for me and it's what I need to focus on in terms of exercise in my life.
2. Examine your lifestyle and preferences to determine ways to maintain a healthy weight/diet. Rubin recommends a similar approach to maintaining a healthy weight, and asks people to identify what diet would work best by working through a thorough self-examination on lifestyle and preferences. When it comes to food, I've identified that abstinence works best for me. If it's not in my pantry or fridge, I won't eat it. I'm not the type of person that can have a few Pringles - I'll eat the whole can! So I try to keep my pantry and my fridge filled with healthy choices and I focus on completely abstaining from the bad stuff. I'm glad there's a name for this now, and it encourages me to keep abstaining - it works as I've been able to maintain a healthy weight minus dieting or feeling deprived.
3. Schedule time to do things you want to do. As a busy single, working mom, I don't have very much time for myself. But taking time out it so important: it keeps me sane and best of all, it keeps me me. I'm a better mom when I carve out a little time for myself every day. Rubin encourages readers to schedule in a little me time, and I've done just that. In the mornings, for example, I've been waking up about 30 minutes earlier: I prepare my tea the way I love it, loose leaf with boiled milk, and sit down to a nice cup of tea and some newspaper reading time at my quiet kitchen table. I've also started scheduling a weekly reflexology massage. I feel a bazillion times better after my weekly massage. And when I feel relaxed and healthy, the feeling spreads to my family. Now that's positive habit change!
4. Focus on the positive outcomes of good habits. Rubin encourages readers to find a reward "within the habit itself." For example, if I avoid eating after 8pm, my reward is that I'll wake up feeling lighter and ready to get on my bike for a nice ride into work. If I ride my bike to work instead of hopping into the car, I'll get to have a nice, slow ride home down a very cool stretch of Milwaukee Avenue. By reframing habits and highlighting their positive outcomes, sticking to them is so much easier as they seem less obligatory - I'm more focused on the positive outcome instead of on the task at hand.
5. Make a list of your own treats. What is a treat to you? Try to think outside the food box. One huge treat for me is sipping my morning tea and reading my newspaper, as I mentioned above. I also love sitting in cafes and watching the world go by. I love taking looooong walks. I love riding with my kids to the park on our bicycles. Another huge treat is travel. Think of the little things and the big things that make life sweet for you - and then make a point of indulging in one or two treats each day.
If you are looking to create your own little life hacks to make your life just a bit sweeter, check out Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin.