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Upholder, Questioner, Obliger or Rebel?

Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin talks about The 4 Tendencies

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We all want to have healthy habits. Whether that means eating right, working efficiently, exercising or taking care of yourself emotionally – healthy habits help us lead happier lives. But how do you adopt healthy habits? How do you step out of the struggle and make them part of your DNA? After all – we’re all wired completely differently and respond to inner and outer expectations in our own ways. So what is the solution that will work for you?

In this episode of the Tony Robbins Podcast, our host, Ana Yoerg, sits down with best-selling author and happiness expert, Gretchen Rubin.

Gretchen has written four New York Times best-selling books, including: The Four Tendencies, Better than Before, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project. Her books have sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. She hosts an award-winning podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Rubin,” where she discusses happiness and forming good habits with her sister, Elizabeth Craft. And she is widely regarded as the foremost authority when it comes to habits, human nature and happiness.

Gretchen maintains that people fall under 1 of 4 behavioral tendencies – the upholder, the obliger, the questioner or the rebel. It’s about how we respond to both inner and outer expectations. Do you embrace the rules? Do you resist? What compels you? What frustrates you?Understanding your tendency towards expectations can help you manage your life in a more insightful, productive way. And in this episode, she distills complex psychological tendencies into habit-forming strategies that really work for the individual. So you can make better decisions, meet deadlines, engage more effectively, and even find a better way of understanding other people’s perspectives – allowing you to find more effective ways of communicating, connecting and finding happiness.


[01:10] Introduction
[03:10] Welcome Gretchen
[03:30] The Four Tendencies Quiz
[03:40] Key tendencies and traits
[04:25] How do you respond to expectations?
[04:55] The Upholder
[05:23] The Questioner
[05:55] The Obliger
[06:25] Most fall into the “Obliger” category
[06:35] The Rebel
[07:20] Well-known personalities that fall into the 4 tendencies
[07:35] Taylor Swift – Upholder
[07:55] You have to understand how they think
[08:25] Steve Jobs – Questioner
[08:40] Jane Eyre – Questioner
[08:55] Andre Agassi – Obliger
[09:35] Donald Trump – Rebel
[09:50] Picasso – Rebel
[09:55] Communicating with rebels
[10:50] Rebels want choice and freedom
[11:10] Remind a rebel of their identity
[11:50] Motivating a rebel
[12:15] Information / Consequences / Choice
[13:15] Do not remind, prompt or nudge the rebel
[13:55] Communicating with Questioners
[14:15] It’s all about justification
[14:35] Questioners hate anything arbitrary
[16:15] Many Questioners don’t like to be questioned
[16:45] Understanding Obligers
[17:25] The most important thing to know about Obligers
[17:50] The importance of outer accountability
[19:05] Obligers often see outer accountability as a weakness
[20:40] Best ways to help obligers succeed
[21:10] Obliger rebellion
[22:25] Obligers are often taken advantage of
[23:45] A common misconception about Obligers
[24:55] Getting rid of outer expectations doesn’t mean inner expectations will be met
[25:15] Other misconceptions about the tendencies
[25:55] Assumptions about Upholders
[27:15] Upholders can come across rigid and cold
[28:55] The best way to nurture an upholder
[29:30] The noise of outer expectations
[31:05] Pairing the Rebel with the Obliger
[32:10] Creating healthy habits based on your tendency
[34:00] Questions and the importance of clarity
[34:45] Finding your compelling reason
[36:15] Monitoring and scheduling
[37:45] Upholders and “tightening”
[38:50] Moderators and abstainers
[40:00] There is no one “best” way to form a habit
[40:45] It’s about making your life easier
[41:15] Where to learn more about Gretchen’s work


How do you see the world – By understanding how you and others sort and process information, you can find more effective and productive means of communicating and connecting.

How to be truly convincing – By understanding internal and external frames of reference, you can learn how to be a more effective, influential leader.

How to build a team that works – A candidate’s resume can only tell you so much. Learn the 3 questions that Tony uses to find great players that will be the right team fit.

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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