New book about habits by Gretchen Rubin

Hello Readers,

Today, in addition to sending you the usual daily Moment of Happiness quotation, I wanted also to let you know that my book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, just went on sale today.

No surprise, it’s packed with many of my favorite quotations. The epigraph? Publilius Syrus: “The greatest of empires, is the empire over one’s self.” One of my other favorites? From John Gardner: “Every time you break the law you pay, and every time you obey the law you pay.” But there are many…and I cut out many, too.

For a writer, publication day is a big milestone, so thanks for bearing with me as I take this opportunity to spotlight the book. As always, thank you, readers!

I’m thrilled to have Better Than Before out in the world. It explores how we can make and break habits—one of the most interesting subjects ever.

Three or four years ago, I began to notice that when people told me about a happiness challenge, they often pointed to some crucial habit that they weren’t able to master.

I became increasingly intrigued with the subject of habits, and became determined to answer the many questions that puzzled me—perhaps they’ve puzzled you, too:

• Sometimes people acquire habits overnight, and sometimes they drop longtime habits just as abruptly. Why?
• Why do some people dread and resist habits, while others adopt them eagerly?
• Perhaps it’s understandable why it’s hard to form a habit we don’t enjoy, but why is it hard to form a habit we do enjoy?
• Why do so many successful dieters regain their lost weight, plus more?
• Why are people so often unmoved by the bad consequences of their habits? For instance, one-third to one-half of U.S. patients don’t take medicine prescribed for a chronic illness.
• Do the same strategies work for changing simple habits (wear­ing a seat belt) and for complex habits (drinking less)?
• Why is it that sometimes, though we’re very anxious—even desperate—to change a habit, we can’t? A friend told me, “I have health issues, and I feel lousy when I eat certain foods. But I eat them anyway.”
• Do the same habit-formation strategies apply equally well to everyone?
• Certain situations seem to make it easier to form habits. Which ones, and why?

In Better Than Before, I answer all these, and more. I learned many things that astonished me.

My argument, in a nutshell: There is no magic, one-size-fits-all solution for habit change. To change our habits, we first have to figure out ourselves and the strategies that will work for us. My great hope is that this book will help people find ways successfully to change their habits—even if they’ve failed before.

If you’d like to know more about Better Than Before, you can read a descriptionread an excerptlisten to an audio-book clip (yes, that’s me reading); and download reading guides for book groups, work groups, andspirituality groups.

I’ve gotten some very thoughtful notes from readers who have asked me what they can do to help. Which I very much appreciate. In this era of fewer bookstores and shrinking book reviews, the actions of readers make a big difference in the fate of a book.

So please forgive me if this is an imposition, but if you’re so inclined, and you liked the book, here are some suggestions:

First, tell your friends! Word of mouth is the best. The thing that makes me most want to read a book is when friends tell me that they liked it. Mention it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…whatever social media is your habit.

Write an online review; readers respect the views of other readers. This really helps. (The book comes out today, but because Amazon Vine readers get early copies, Better Than Before already has more than thirty 5-star and 4-star reviews  on Amazon—and not from anyone I know!)

Adding a rating (the more stars, the better) also makes a big difference.

Note, too, that if you vote an existing review as “helpful,” it gets pushed to the top of the reviews list, where it’s more visible. Conversely, if you mark a review “unhelpful,” it moves down.

Request a signed bookplate for your copy of the book.

I know a lot of people plan on giving Better Than Before to other people, in a not-so-subtle bid to help them change a habit. If you’d like signed bookplates to make the books more special giftsrequest here.

If you want a “starter kit” to launch a group for people who are working together to change their habits, email your request to

Come to an event! I love to meet readers and hope to see many of you when I’m on my book tour. Info here. If you don’t live in a tour city, maybe you can see or hear me talking about the book.If all goes as planned, I’ll appear on theToday show (3-part series), The Dr. Oz Show, “the Cycle” on MSNBC, on “Weekend Edition” on NPR, and elsewhere.

Finally, to give you a sense of what you’ll find in the book, here’s my Habits Manifesto:

  • What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while.
  • Make it easy to do right and hard to go wrong.
  • Focus on actions, not outcomes.
  • By giving something up, we may gain.
  • Things often get harder before they get easier.
  • When we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves.
  • We’re not very different from other people, but those differences are very important.
  • It’s easier to change our surroundings than ourselves.
  • We can’t make people change, but when we change, others may change.
  • We should make sure the things we do to feel better don’t make us feel worse.
  • We manage what we monitor.
  • Once we’re ready to begin, begin now.

If you’ve decided to tackle an important habit (or to help someone else to tackle a habit), I hope that you find Better Than Before useful. When we change our habits, we change our lives.

Thank you, dear readers, for all your support and enthusiasm, and for sharing this moment with me. I’m so grateful. And thanks for your patience with this self-promotion! I’ve worked so hard on this book; I want to do everything I can to spread the word.

(Note my excellent Better Than Before cell phone case! Fancy.)

“Do you have a bad habit you’re trying to shake, or a good one you wish you could cultivate? Gretchen Rubin is one of the most charming and erudite authors of her generation. Here, she 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 bestselling 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 bestselling 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 bestselling author of Thrive

“Is there a habit in your life you’d like to change? If so, here’s your first step: Read this book. It’s loaded with practical, everyday tips and techniques that will guide you to success.”
—Dan Heath, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive

“Almost everyone wants to be ‘better’—slimmer, smarter, better looking, more interesting, more productive—and we want to know we’re improving, we want the reinforcing evidence. Gretchen Rubin’s new masterpiece, Better Than Before, shows us how.  Unlike other books on habits, Rubin’s book gives us the specific tools and a blueprint for getting back on track—the fast track.”
 —Brian Wansink, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Slim by Design and Mindless Eating

“With bold and original insights, Gretchen Rubin reveals the hidden truths about how to change our habits—from resisting junk food and hitting the gym to ending procrastination and saving money. Better Than Before is a gem, and the first habit you should form is reading a chapter every night.”
—Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take

“Gretchen Rubin’s superpower is curiosity. Luckily for us, she’s turned her passionate inquiry to the topic of making and mastering habits. Weaving together research, unforgettable examples, and her brilliant insight, Better Than Beforeis a force for real change. It rearranged what I thought I knew about my habits, and I’m better for it.”
—Brené Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection

Gretchen Rubin


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©2012, Gretchen Rubin. All rights reserved.

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