It’s about time — in midlife — to get some self help that figures out what contributes to how I fulfill inward and outward expectations. Gretchen Rubin’s latest book, The Four Tendencies, does just that.
Back in 2010, my oldest daughter shared with me that she read a book that “changed her life.” I don’t know about you, but when my kids make a statement like that, I follow up. So, I checked out the book, The Happiest Project by Gretchen Rubin, and guess what? It changed my life too. A wonderful self-help book of strategies to cultivate meaningful happiness in your life.
As I read the book, I took notes on several of Gretchen Rubin’s self-help happiness suggestions. One of Gretchen’s ideas from The Happiness Project that I wanted to try out was “spending time with a hobby brings happiness.” She suggested that if you don’t think you have a hobby, think back when you were a teenager or young adult and consider what hobbies you were involved with back then. As I reminisced, I remembered that I loved to sew. So, I got out my sewing machine, had it cleaned and adjusted, and began a sewing project. As I sewed along, I realized just how much sewing truly made me happy and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Each book contained more little nuggets of self-help wisdom that was easy to incorporate into my regular routine, adding more value to my life.
After I pre-registered for the book, I heard that Gretchen would be starting her book tour for The Four Tendencies not far from where I lived. There was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to see my self-help mentor and favorite author.
Claremont Graduate University sponsored Gretchen Rubin for their Distinguished Lecture Series. They introduced her as “one of today’s most important thinkers; a ‘street scientist’ who provides guidance with positive psychology.”
The Four Tendencies explores how individuals respond both outwardly and inwardly to expectations. According to Gretchen, most people fit into one of four expectation categories:
Upholders “Discipline is my freedom.”
Questioners “I’ll comply if you can tell my why”
Obligers “You can count on me and I am counting on you”
Rebels “You can’t make me and either can I”
Gretchen provides a questionnaire to help readers determine which category they fall in. Then, her book explores the strengths and weaknesses of each personality type. She maintains that by understanding which type of personality you are, it will help you understand why you react to situations like you do as well as help you better relate to others because you know where they are coming from.
During the lecture, Gretchen stressed that these four tendencies are not meant to box anyone in. Rather, they provide patterns or tools for change—if you choose to use them.
After her presentation, Gretchen made herself available meet the attendees and to sign her book. I only had to wait about 10 minutes in line to tell her personally how much her books have meant to me and thank her for her insights. She was so gracious and kind in response to my adoration.
Taking time out of my busy day was totally worth the opportunity to listen to and speak with one of my favorite authors. If you are looking for some self-help insight on how to improve your relationships with yourself and others, I highly recommend Gretchen Rubin’s books, including her newest, The Four Tendencies.