Tag Archives: free

Big Announcement: the “Better” App Is Now Free to Use!

My obsession with my Four Tendencies framework is just as strong as ever.

Ever since I first came up with the Four Tendencies framework, I’ve grown more and more interested in it — and more and more people keep asking me questions about it. (Don’t know about the framework? Don’t know if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Take the quiz here.)

People want information about the Four Tendencies, and they also want help — they email because they’re eager to join an accountability group, they want to work with a coach who understands the Tendencies, they want to apply the framework with their medical patients or as a manager at work or with their coaching clients. And I hear from a lot of parents who want to use the Tendencies (especially parents of Rebels).

I’m finishing up my book The Four Tendencies (sign up here to hear when it goes on sale in fall 2017), but I also wanted a way for people to exchange ideas and questions. I’ve been staggered by people’s brilliant insights, imaginative solutions, and compelling examples. Henry James couldn’t do better.

So I created the app Better, an app to help you harness the Four Tendencies framework to create a better life. You can use it as an app on your phone, or you can use it on your desktop.

Since launch, there has been so much fascinating, helpful discussion on the Better app. It’s exciting to see how everyone puts the Four Tendencies into action – at home, at work, in health, and in life.

I can hardly drag myself away from reading the comments and posts.

When it launched, there was a $9.99 monthly charge for the app, but as publication of The Four Tendencies drew nearer, I started to think about how the app experience would be better and better (sorry, couldn’t resist that) as more people contributed.

And I knew that for some people, a fee is a barrier.

So I decided to make the Better app free for anyone who wants to join. The more, the better, for all of us.

If you know people who would be interested, or who would benefit from the discussions here, or want to start or join Accountability Groups, please let them know they now can join for free.

I hope this change makes your life a little better!

Want To Change a Habit? These May Help.

Now that my book Better Than Before is out in the world, and people are starting to read it, I’m starting to see a lot of interest in certain resources that I offer.

So I wanted to make sure that everyone knows they’re available.

STARTER KIT: First, I’m getting more and more requests for the “starter kit” for people who want to launch a Better Than Before habits group.

One of the best ways to build good habits (and happiness) effectively – and also one of the most fun ways – is to join or start a group. I love joining or starting groups. At last count, I’d joined or started thirteen groups since I realized this fact, while writing The Happiness Project.

Better Than Before habits groups swap ideas, build enthusiasm, give energy and encouragement, and – most important – hold each other accountable. Think AA and Weight Watchers. Remember, most people find accountability helpful, but if you’re an Obliger — and many people are, this is a huge group — external accountability is the key to sticking to your good habits.  Crucial! Absolutely necessary! There are many ways to give yourself external accountability, but a group is one of the most effective. (Not sure if you’re an Obliger, or even what an “Obliger” is? Take this Quiz. More than 120,000 people have taken it.)

Everyone in the group doesn’t need to be working on the same habit; what’s necessary is the accountability. I heard about one (small) group, where one Obliger wanted to be held accountable for working on a writing project, and the other Obliger, unconventionally, wanted to be held accountable for things like getting a massage! This may sound silly, but is actually very wise. We need treats (that’s the Strategy of Treats), and Obligers may have trouble giving themselves treats — and so the answer is external accountability.  If they’re pushed too far, Obligers may burn out — or develop Obliger-rebellion, which can be very destructive.  They often need accountability to help them be kind to themselves.

So, if you’d like help launching a group for people doing a Better Than Before habits groups together, request it here.

DISCUSSION GUIDES: I’ve also heard from people who are talking about Better Than Before in a group.

Some, in a traditional book group. I love book groups. I’m in four, myself.

Some want to talk about it with people from work — there’s a  lot in the book about habits in the workplace, such as the discussion in the “Strategy of Distinctions” about the difference between Marathoners vs. Sprinters, Abstainers vs. Moderators, Simplicity-Lovers vs. Abundance Lovers; also the “Strategy of Other People,” the “Strategy of Convenience,” and so on. And of course, the Four Tendencies is quite helpful to consider at work.

Some want to discuss Better Than Before in a spiritual context — at a Bible study group, at a spirituality book group, for clergy, and the like.  Habits have enormous influence over our spiritual lives, as well as our work life, family life, health, etc. For one thing, as Flannery O’Connor noted, “The things that we are obliged to do, such as hear Mass on Sunday, fast and abstain on the days appointed, etc. can become mechanical and merely habit. But it is better to be held to the Church by habit than not to be held at all. The Church is mighty realistic about human nature.”

I’ve created a discussion guide for these three types of groups. You can download them here.

BetterThanBeforeBookplateinBookSIGNED BOOKPLATES: I’ve heard from a lot of people who want to give Better Than Before as a gift, to help someone they know who is struggling with a habit. I’ve also heard from many people who want to give away stacks of the book, to clients, patients, etc. An impulse which I very much appreciate. If you’d like free signed bookplates to make the gifts more special — or if you want a bookplate for your own book! — request them here. U.S. and Canada only, sorry–mailing costs.

CHECKLIST FOR HABIT CHANGE: To my regret, I didn’t think to create this checklist in time to include it in the book. Maybe I can add it to the paperback. Anyway, I created a one-page “Checklist for Habit Change.” At the top, you note the habit you want to master, then use the checklist to see how many of the 21 strategies you can use to change it. (This checklist is probably only useful if you’re reading the book.) Download it here.

I also have one-pagers for Eating Better Than Before, Exercising Better Than Before, Working Better Than Before, and Reading Better Than Before — I expected that the one about reading would be the least popular, but I think it may be the most popular. I guess a lot of people love to read as much as I do.

Are there other resources that you’d like to have?I truly do believe that it’s possible for us to change our habits — even when we’ve failed before. It’s not that hard — when we know what to do.

Interested in Habits? Want a Free Bonus Gift? Of Course!

My new book, Better Than Before, explains how we can master our habits. In it, I reveal the secret to changing habits—really!

It turns out that changing habits isn’t that hard, when you know what to do. The book hits the shelves on March 17, 2015.

Pre-orders really help a book, by building buzz among the media, booksellers, and readers. If you’re inclined to buy Better Than Before, pre-ordering now is a big help.

So, as a thank-you to readers who pre-order the book, my publisher is offering a limited-edition bonus set. As you see in the image, you’ll get…

  • A Better Than Before cell-phone case (for the iPhone 5 or 6, or Samsung 5)
  • A wallet card with my Habits Manifesto
  • A bookplate signed by me


To receive your gift, pre-order the book from your favorite retailer, save your receipt, and click here to fill out the form with your order confirmation. If you’ve already pre-ordered, don’t worry — there are instructions telling you what to do. (And thank you!)

Want more information before you commit yourself to a pre-order?

To read an excerpt, look here.

To listen to a clip of the audio-book, listen here (that’s me, reading).

To check out other habit-related materials, click here. (For instance, you can get one-pagers on “Eating Better Than Before,” “Working Better Than Before, ” “Exercising Better Than Before,” and my favorite, “Reading Better Than Before.”)

Remember, you won’t be charged for the book until it ships.

This offer runs until February 15, 2015. Alas, my publisher can offer this in the U.S. only, and has a limited amount, so I apologize in advance if we run out.

As always, readers, I so appreciate your support and enthusiasm. If you live in a tour city, I hope I see you this spring. If you live in L.A., San Diego, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Princeton, Washington D.C., Boston, Madison CT, Cedar Rapids, Philadelphia, or of course New York City, I’m headed your way. Please come, tell your friends. (Tour dates in Canada, UK., and Australia coming soon.)

Better Than Before  was very tough to write; habit change is a very challenging, large subject.  But I loved writing this book.

As always, readers, thank you for your support and enthusiasm.

Why I’ve Grown Wary of Accepting Anything That’s Free.

One habit that I try hard to cultivate is to stay on top of clutter.

Clutter seems trivial, but I’ve found — and many people have told me that they’re the same way — that clutter weighs me down more than it should. Something like a crowded coat closet or an overflowing inbox is a petty problem, but then when I clear out that area, I feel so much more energetic, creative, and happy. It’s weird.

I have a lot of habits that I follow to stay on top of clutter. I follow the one-minute rule (anything I can do in less than a minute, I go ahead and do without delay).  I don’t get organized. For more tips to beat clutter, check here.

(I write about more clutter-fighting habits in my forthcoming masterpiece about habit-formation. If you want to hear when the book goes on sale, you can sign up here.)

Because I’m focused on clutter-busting, I’m now very wary of anything that’s free. Getting something for free makes it feel like a treat—and oddly, it makes me feel greedier. I’m excited when I get something without paying—even if it’s something I’d never choose to buy. For instance, getting free food and drink is a challenge to my healthy eating habits, and in fact, research shows that getting a food or drink sample makes shoppers feel hungrier and thirstier, and puts them in reward-seeking state.

Also, an important strategy for habit-formation is the Strategy of Loophole-Spotting, and getting something for free can provide loopholes. For example, we can use it to argue that “this doesn’t count,” as in “These cookies are compliments of the chef, they’re free, they don’t count.” But everything counts.

Now, instead of unthinkingly accepting a freebie, I ask: would I choose to buy this thing? If not, I probably don’t really need or want it, even if getting it feels like a treat.

When I spoke at a company, I mentioned this habit during the question-and-answer period. Afterward, the event organizer said, “I know this is ironic, but here’s a little something for you.” He handed me a company water bottle and a box of fancy chocolates.

“Thanks!” I said. “This looks great, even if it is free.” We both laughed—but in fact, I  really didn’t want those freebies. My family already has a lot of water bottles (because these days, they’re so often given out for free), and I don’t eat chocolate. I appreciated the kindness and generosity of the gesture, and I accepted the things, because I didn’t want to be rude, but I had to figure out ways to get rid of them usefully, which was a bit of trouble.

How about you? When you consider the sources of clutter in your life, do you find that freebies make up a percentage of the stuff?

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How Do You Feel About the Need to Pay — or Something for Free?

Did I mention that I’m writing a book about how we make and break habits? Oh yes, I think I did. It’s called Before and After, and it will be out next spring. Sign up here if you want to know when it goes on sale.

Here’s a habit-related issue that I’ve been pondering lately: the need to pay, or the ability to get something for free. I think that these conditions can affect our habits.

First, paying.

When forming habits, we’re surprisingly affected by how convenient an activity is. We can harness this, with the Strategies of Convenience and Inconvenience, to foster good habits.  One person changes into exercise clothes as soon as he comes home from work, to make it easier to exercise; another person puts the TV remote-control on a high shelf, to make it a bit harder to turn on the TV.

When we have to pay for something, it feels less convenient. For instance, for most people, it would be cheaper to pay for the gym on a per-visit basis instead of forking over a monthly fee (70% of people rarely use their long-term gym memberships), but although monthly system may not make financial sense, it makes psychological sense; paying per visit feels less convenient, and means that each work-out means an additional cost, while paying by the month makes each visit feel free.

Also, for many people, paying for something makes them more likely to do it. If they pay for a work-out with a trainer, they’re more likely to go, rather than spend the money on nothing. For some (though not all) Obligers, having to pay is a form of external accountability. For them, therefore, late fees, penalties, paying for a class, hiring professionals, etc.  can be very important for sticking to a good habit.

On the other hand, it seems that for some people, paying for something like a training session makes them feel as though they’ve actually done it, even if they haven’t. Paying for a gym membership makes it seem like they’re “going to the gym,” even if they never actually go. Have you ever experienced this?

Perhaps this is related to the “pay or pray” phenomenon: it turns out that when people donate to religious institutions, they’re less likely to attend religious services. Paying acts as a substitute for showing up.

Second, freebies.

Getting something for free also affects our habits. This comes up a lot with food. Many people can’t turn down a free sample — it’s free! But no surprise,  research shows that getting a food or drink sample makes shoppers feel hungrier and thirstier, and puts them in reward-seeking state.

An important strategy for habit-formation is the Strategy of Loophole-Spotting, and getting something for free can provide loopholes. For example, we can use it to argue that “this doesn’t count,” as in “These cookies are compliments of the chef, they’re free, they don’t count.” But everything counts.

Another complicating factor: we tend to value things more when we pay for them. But we also love scoring free stuff. And we’re more likely to do something, like go to the doctor, if we don’t have to pay.  These different frames of mind come into play with habits in many different variations.

Have you noticed how the need to pay, or the ability to get something for free, affects your habits?

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here. (You can ignore that RSS business.)