Gretchen Rubin’s books might look like they cover a range of topics—
happiness, habits and personality
types—but she says they’re all about
the same thing: human nature.
The author of the best-selling The
Happiness Project (Harper Collins,
2009) lives with her husband and two
daughters in New York City, where she
co-hosts (with sister Elizabeth Craft) the
popular weekly podcast Happier with
Gretchen Rubin. She found her own
happiness by forgoing a law career after
graduating Yale Law School to become a
writer. Her other titles include Happier
at Home (Harmony, 2012) and Better
Than Before (Crown Publishers, 2015).
Her newest book, The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life
Better (Harmony, 2017), can be helpful
for HR because it highlights how different
types of people can work well together.
You started as a lawyer and even clerked
for then-U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Sandra Day O’Connor. Why did you
I got an idea and became preoccupied
with researching it—how to achieve
greater happiness. I realized that what I
was really doing was preparing to write
a book on the topic. I decided I’d rather
risk failing as a writer than succeeding
as a lawyer. I’m happier doing what I do
now because I love it so much. It’s 100
percent intellectual freedom, and that’s
Your book Better Than Before is about
everyday habits. What’s one that’s
important to you?
I try to stick to my bedtime. Sleep is a
foundation of so many other good hab-
its. If you’re exhausted, it’s hard to do
other things that make you happier,
healthier and more productive.
What advice can you give someone
who’s having a hard time changing a
There is no magic, one-size-fits-all solution. What works for me may be the
opposite of what works for you. Understanding your own nature is critical.
One of the most obvious examples is
knowing whether you’re a morning person or a night person. If you pledge to go
for a 45-minute run before work every
morning even though you usually hit the
snooze button three times, it’s probably
not going to work.
Your new book focuses on four personality types. What are they?
Upholders, questioners, obligers and
both outer expectations,
inner ones, such as a
s and will
make sense to them.
but struggle to meet
inner ones. They are
the most common
Rebels, who are
the least common,
resist all expectations.
t they want,
t, in their
How did you get interested in personality tendencies?
When I decided to make my bed every
day, kiss my husband every morning and
every night, and give up sugar, people
kept asking me “How do you do it?” I
said, “It makes me happier, so I just stick
to it.” I realized that these things came
easily to me because of my tendency as
Are there any habits you struggle with?
Making appointments. I don’t mind going
to them, but I hate scheduling them.
How are the personality types relevant
in the workplace?
Our tendencies affect the way we
approach issues and projects and how we
expect people to work together. We tend
to think everyone sees the world the w
we do. For example, upholders hav
no problem meeting expectation
so they don’t understand why o
ers need accountability to do t
Which personality types wo
Rebels usually partner w
What’s Your Work Style?
leaders avoid pu
able. It depend
Knowing how employees react to expectations—both others’ and their own—is
key to achieving workplace harmony, says best-selling author Gretchen Rubin.
Interview by Tamara Lytle
like work deadl
New Year’s res
only do the thi
meet outer expe
They don’t do
want to do wha
when they wan