Meetup with Gretchen Rubin at Habit Design

Friend Maria Brilaki, of invited me to this great meeting with bestselling author of The Happiness Project. Never enough happiness in our lives! Gretchen Rubin’s next book is about making and breaking habits. According to Gretchen, there are four ways people approach habits: upholding, questioning, rebelling and obliging. The Upholder, for instance, finds it easy to pick up a new habit.  All it takes is to make a plan, stick with it and get the results. Easy! Gretchen identifies as an Upholder herself  and she says that until her in-depth research she did not understand why most other people had problems with healthy routines . She identified those other types. To sum it up: the Upholder creates structure (habits) from within and doesn’t feel limited by it. The Questioner will submit to external structure, if he finds it reasonable. This type seems to get entangled in endless research. The Rebel abhors the idea of habit from without or from within alike and often acts in defiance of external expectations. The Obliger does what he has to do, what is expected of him, putting himself last.

Gretchen thinks these four attitudes are hardwired. However, people with different approaches can learn from one another and overcome the limitations of each group.

The whole issue of habits puzzles me. I never thought of it this way. I have a “habit” of sorts with my singing practice and it helps enormously with the so-called “bad habits”, such as “bad posture”. In childhood I was diagnosed with scoliosis and  I got prescribed exercises for posture correction. After they were demonstrated to me by a professional  I was sore all over for three days and never once repeated them at home.  I would have done, if my parents had time and inclination to supervise me. Which would have been torture. A lot of stuff that goes by the name of “good habits” is simply disguised torture. What  is the point of having a muscled spine if you are miserable?  What’s the point of being slim if you are  always hungry?

With the singing practice my posture gets better naturally, I don’t even think about it as “breaking a habit”.  I prefer to call it evolution, or growth. You have a dream, a goal, you follow it. If the pull is strong enough, the habits that are “in the way” will subside, and the more useful ones will be developed.

In any case, a good Meet-up  and food for thought. I look forward to reading the next book by Gretchen.