Wednesday Recommendation: Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is best known for her book The Happiness Project, which chronicles the year she spent trying to become happier. She followed it with a similar sequel, Happier At Home, which focuses on how changing your home life could make you happier. I love Rubin’s honest, experimental approach: she reads a lot around the subject of happiness and observes what happens when she tries to apply her findings.

Better Than Before is written in a similar vein, but focuses on how we might change our habits. Rubin identifies 4 types of people in regard to how we approach forming habits, although there is overlap between the types: Upholders, Obligers, Questioners and Rebels. She draws on examples from her own life to suggest how different types should adapt their behaviour to make it more conducive to forming habits.

Rubin blogs about these topics — and many more — at gretchenrubin.com.

As someone with mental health problems, I often get too caught up in blaming everything on mental illness. Rubin’s books have been helpful for helping me to improve certain aspects of my life, i.e. what I can control, instead of ignoring the “little” things out of a misguided belief that they won’t make much difference. The little things count: they might not transform your life overnight, but they are an excellent starting point.

Don’t put off tackling your problems until you have solved your biggest problem. In my own case, I don’t know if I will ever be “cured” or even in remission from my mental illnesses; I could waste my whole life waiting for recovery. Working with my mental health issues can be tricky, but it’s better than doing nothing and staying miserable. I want to earn a living from writing and services/areas related to writing, so I’m going for it. My progress is slow and difficult (I need to overcome my anxiety and do more marketing, for a start), but it’s still progress. I’m further ahead than I would be if I waited to be depression-free, anxiety-free and BPD-free.