Posted in Books, Personal

Books I’ve Read: The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

Though I think of myself as an intellectual, I still enjoy Facebook quizzes and find some truth in horoscopes. And more scientifically, I seek clarity through personality frameworks. So after learning from her book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and her podcast Happier that she also had a framework, I naturally wanted to know more.TheFourTendencies

The Four Tendencies correlate to the response to expectations, both inner (self-imposed) and outer (imposed by others). They break down as follows:

  • Upholder: Meets both inner and outer expectations
  • Questioner: Meets inner expectations, resists outer
  • Obliger: Meets outer expectations, resists inner
  • Rebel: Resists both outer and inner expectations

Expectations can include things such as working out, meeting a deadline at work, following a doctor-recommended routine, or even just following through with commitments like getting together with a friend.

Personally, I am an Obliger, and had no problem guessing these even from the limited description above. I’m quick to meet expectations of others such as keeping my weekly appointment with a personal trainer or helping a friend with a project of theirs, but I struggle when it comes to my goals (creating an Etsy shop, reading and blogging more, adding yoga/meditation into my day). There is also some overlap between the Tendencies, and unfortunately, I lean toward Rebel; meeting my own expectations is that much harder.

the-four-tendencies-summary-frameworkBut fear not! In this book, Ms. Rubin provides strategies to accomplish things while working with your tendency instead of against it. For instance, as an Obliger I can and should seek accountability (through an app, a friend, or some other system) so that I have some outer expectation to meet, instead of just relying on my own desire to accomplish something. I’ve started to add these little things into my life, and I’ve already noticed a difference!

She also gives advice on how to work with the various Tendencies and how to navigate a relationship with them as well. Got a Rebel child? Try this! Questioner boss? This might help. I love the application that is not only possible with this framework, but that is provided in this blueprint. It’s wonderful to have both the clarity of what I am and an action plan to start living up to the potential of my Tendency.

This is not the be all end all of personality frameworks. Ms. Rubin acknowledges this throughout the text, in the appendix, and even on her blog. But it is helpful to have another piece of the puzzle. I can use both the knowledge that I am an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs system and an Obliger in the Four Tendency framework to better accommodate myself in various aspects of my life. Both offer valuable insight into me!

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. Knowing ourselves better is the first step to finding success in anything. Pick up a copy! (Or listen to the podcast or read her blog, as this framework is a recurring theme in both; it’s your choice!)



At this point in time, I'm exploring. I'm returning to things I've drifted away from, I'm starting to look at and improve myself, and I'm trying to figure out what it is this crazy universe has in store for me by learning and trying new things. The path I was on wasn't working, so I'm trying a newer, smaller, more challenging one. Join me.

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