Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle

Hi lovelies! I hope everyone is having a beautiful long weekend (if you get tomorrow off!). I am so obsessed with podcasts; they encourage so much learning and growth. One of my favorites is the Happier podcast, with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft. Two super spunky and wise sisters discuss habits and human nature that allows for us to feel happier, more productive, and better able to appreciate the little things. Gretchen also created a really wonderful framework to conceptualize humans and what helps to keep us motivated. Here’s the rundown:

  • Upholder- readily meets both inner and outer expectations
  • Obliger- meets outer expectations, but struggles to meet inner expectations
  • Questioner- questions outer expectations and will meet them if they agree and understand them, readily meets inner expectations
  • Rebel- resists both outer and inner expectations

Here is the link to take the quiz and find out which tendency you fall under:


Once you know what tendency you are, it is easier to understand and get to know your own habits and motivation. Gretchen discusses that it isn’t really possible to switch tendencies, so it is important to understand why you work the way you do, and have your tendency work with your goals and desires. All of the tendencies have positives and areas to improve on, so don’t get discouraged if you wanted to be something different. Make yours work for you. Let’s think about these four tendencies in terms of living a healthier life.

  • If you are an upholder, you may decide to run a marathon, or a friend will ask you to run a marathon, and either way you are excited, motivated, and ready for the challenge. Of course, some days may be easier than others, but once you set your mind to something, you will achieve it to the best of your ability. This is obviously a really great tendency to have, however it is really uncommon, and Gretchen also discusses the pitfalls of this tendency. She herself is an upholder, and admits to being pretty structured and rigid, which may allow her to follow a marathon schedule, but doesn’t allow for much flexibility or wiggle room for fun or spontaneous times.
  • If you are an obliger, it is in your best interest to find a way for others to hold you accountable. For example, having a friend who you go to the gym with every morning, or a co-worker who texts you to check in about your weekly meal prep. Because you may be unable to make the goals or promises you set for yourself, it is important to talk your goals out with someone who you trust and who will be able to help motivate you to get on track and stay on track. This is a really common tendency, so send this quiz to your friends and find out obligers in your tribe so you can all work together to hold one another accountable!
  • If you’re a questioner, you have the really wonderful aspect of being able to meet the expectations you set for yourself . What you set your mind to, you will accomplish. You rely on your own judgment and inner wisdom to make health decisions. For example, if you see a new crossfit workout or a new diet, you won’t just try it because everyone else is. You try it because you are interested in it and it aligns with the goals you set for yourself. This is really positive, because you don’t just buy a new juice cleanse because it’s all the rage and everyone around you is trying it. Keep doing you!
  • Lastly, if you’re a rebel, you live minute by minute, dancing to the beat of your own drum. If you have a spark of wanting to go for a run or making a smoothie, do it right away! You’re very in touch with what you want in the present moment, and it serves you to have the power of choice. Rebels would benefit from classpass, because you can choose from hundreds of different studios in your area, so you have lots of variety in what workouts you’re doing, and you can decide morning of.

There you have it! I encourage everyone to find out your tendency and think about how it plays into your life! These tendencies are really great for understanding why we behave the way we do, how come we defy certain rules or commands, and why resolutions work or don’t work for us. Each tendency comes with strengths and struggle points, so thinking about how you can make your tendency work for you is important. Which tendency are you?


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