The Four Tendencies

I do tasks that will only take a minute immediately instead of saving them for later. I open boxes carefully so as not to damage them. I [try to] remove splinters with tape. I occasionally ask myself how future Nicole would feel about choices I am making now. And when I want to eat better, I abstain from garbage food because I know I’m not built for moderation.


I do all of these things because of suggestions from Gretchen Rubin. So, needless to say, I was very excited to receive a copy of her brand new book, set to release next week, called “The Four Tendencies”.


If you read Rubin’s last book, “Better than Before”, or listen to her podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Rubin”, the ideas in this new book will not be new to you. It takes her concept that all people fall into four broad personality profiles and expands on it, carefully outlining each one: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel.


On the technical side of things, I found the structure of the book to be just right. Chapters start with a broad definition of each tendency, including pros and cons. Then follows sections on how to deal with spouses, kids, coworkers, or healthcare patients with that tendency. It even talks about what type of jobs might suit you if you have that tendency. Although there were definitely a lot of points I had already heard her make, she also had saved some material for the book, and I found new ideas and tips as I read.


As far as personal application goes, I found a ton of treasures in these pages. First, I hope this book gets into the hands of tons of teachers. They should donate it to them, make it mandatory reading, teacher husband is sure going to hear about it. I spent my entire education being made to feel rebellious and like a “less-than” student because I questioned the status quo. The answer “because I said so” used to drive me bonkers because it made absolutely no sense. It really hampered the amount of success I had in high school because so much of my energy was spent fighting the injustice of the system instead of learning. When I got to college, where questions were not only welcomed but celebrated, I thrived. Now I know it is because I am a questioner. I wish my teachers in those younger years had taken the time to know me and figure that out.


I love the idea that by knowing myself and others better, I can be a better wife and friend, daughter and mom. I can treat myself better and chase my health goals more effectively. Like all of Rubin’s books, I finished with real action items to chase that I knew would result in a happier and more productive lifestyle. And who doesn’t want that?!


On the other side, I did feel that this book lacked some of the magic that was abounding in her huge hit, “The Happiness Project”. I missed the way she wove facts and applications into her own unfolding story. There were still anecdotes from herself and readers, but it didn’t feel like a memoir. This didn’t take away from the readability, I just hope she returns to her former glory in the next book she writes.


One other minor note. I wished she hadn’t plugged her app and podcast. She could have even mentioned them, but the way she pointedly talked about them by their full names made it feel like unnatural commercials stuck in the middle of a book. I would have saved that for the endnotes, where incidentally, she also mentioned them.


Finding the negatives in a great book can get super nit-picky. And that’s what I’ve done here. Because this is a great book. It’s worth picking up, maybe to kick of the new year, which is when I usually read her books, to start the school year, or as a Christmas gift for anyone and everyone. I doubt there is anyone who wouldn’t benefit from it.