A habit expert says people come in 4 types -- and figuring out yours is the first step to being happier

Gretchen Rubin, the bestselling author of multiple books on happiness and habit formation, including “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives,” says figuring out which type of person you are is the first step to being happier. Following is a transcript of the video.

This has to do with how you from habits but it also has a lot of influence on every part of our lives.

The 4 tendencies has to do with how you respond to an expectation. And we all face two kinds of expectations: outer expectations which are things like a work deadline or a request from a sweetheart, and then their inner expectations: your own desire to keep a New Year’s resolution. Your own desire to get back into playing guitar.

So upholders readily meet outer and inner expectations. They’re going to meet the work deadline and keep the New Year’s resolution without much fuss. They’re people who usually tend to like routine and to-do lists. That kind of thing.

Next are questioners. Questioners question all expectations. They only do something if they think it makes sense. So they only meet inner expectations so they hate anything arbitrary or inefficient or irrational. Their first question is like “Well why am I gonna listen to you?” They want justifications, and they’re often accused of asking too many questions.

Then obligers. Obligers readily meet outer expectations but they struggle to meet inner expectations. And I got my first insight into this tendency when a friend of mine said “I don’t understand it. When I was in high school I was on the track team and I never miss track practice. So why can’t I go running now?” Well when she had a team and a coach waiting for her she had no trouble showing up, but when she was trying to work out on her own, she struggled. And you may have seen this with people who are super productive when they’re in an office environment with a lot of deadlines and supervision and a team to report to, but then if they go off on their own and are trying to do their own thing, or do gigs, they struggle because they don’t have that outer accountability.

Finally rebels. Rebels resist all expectations outer and inner alike. They want to do what they want to do what they wanna do, when they want to do it, in their own way. And if you ask or tell them to do something they’re very likely to resist.

The biggest tendency for both men and women is obliger. People who readily meet outer expectations and struggle to meet inner expectations. And so if you’re trying to change a habit, like you want to get yourself to exercise more, or you’re trying to get somebody else to do something like turn in a report on time, it’s really helpful to know their tendencies because then you know what button to push in order to get them to listen to you and respond to you appropriately.

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