Gretchen Rubin

“Every Time You Break the Law You Pay, and Every Time You Obey the Law You Pay.”

“Every Time You Break the Law You Pay, and Every Time You Obey the Law You Pay.”

Every time you break the law you pay, and every time you obey the law you pay.

— John Gardner, interview, The Paris Review

I'm haunted by this line; I think about it all the time. It's even the epigraph to my new book on habit-formation, Before and After-- along with a quotation by William James (of course; you can't talk about habits without quoting William James).

It's a line with many, many meanings. In the context of habit-formation, I think about it whenever I ponder the Four Tendencies. Because, whether you're an Upholder like me, or a Rebel, or a Questioner or an Obliger, there's no evading it: every time you break the law you pay, and every time you obey the law you pay.

Agree, disagree?

(In the course of writing my book about habit-formation, Before and After, I’ve come up with a character framework, the "Four Tendencies." To hear when the book goes on sale, sign up here.)

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