By Heidi Stevens
Our habits, says Gretchen Rubin, are our destiny.
Which isn’t to say they’re predetermined.
Quite the contrary, maintains Rubin, the author and blogger who became a household name with her happiness research, spelled out masterfully in the best-selling “The Happiness Project” and “Happier at Home,” both of which sold more than two million copies.
In her new book, “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives” (Crown), Rubin turns her focus to habits. She says we have the inherent power to start good ones and stop bad ones, but we are surprisingly loath to do so.
“Habits are part of your identity,” Rubin said in a recent phone interview. “Changing them means changing a fundamental part of who we are.”
But change can be good. Particularly if it helps us live longer, healthier, indeed, happier lives, the objective of Rubin’s latest project.
“Habits are the invisible architecture of our lives,” Rubin writes. “We repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence and our future. If we change our habits, we change our lives.”
Most of us, Rubin writes, want to change habits that fall into the “essential seven:”
1. More healthy eating and drinking (give up sugar, eat more vegetables, drink less alcohol).
2. Exercise regularly.
3. Save, spend and earn wisely (save regularly, pay down debt, donate to worthy causes, stick to a budget).
4. Rest, relax and enjoy (stop watching TV in bed, turn off a cellphone, spend time in nature, cultivate silence, get enough sleep, spend less time in the car).
5. Accomplish more, stop procrastinating (practice an instrument, work without interruption, learn a language, maintain a blog).
6. Simplify, clear, clean and organize (make the bed, file regularly, put keys away in the same place, recycle).