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Detoxify Your Life: Eliminating Bad Habits Effectively

The Nature Of A Bad Habit


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Have you ever done something so painfully repetitive and monotonous that you sometimes find yourself wanting to just bang your head against the wall several times to break the pattern?

Have you ever felt that something you have been accustomed to doing for the past several years is becoming all too daunting and boring, even annoying, not just for you, but also for others? Has anyone ever told you at any point in your life that you need to make a change or else get left with nothing? Sure, you have. These things happen to you every single day, right?

Waking up at the same time each morning and taking the same bus routes to work or school are some of the basic ingredients to a ho-hum day. To make things worse, this daily waking-up routine also precedes always being barely a minute into the "late" situation, leaving you with a start that is equally as fussy as the previous mornings. However, despite realizing how much of a hassle it has been, you simply shrug your shoulders and tell yourself, "Hey, maybe tomorrow I'll be able to beat a record." And then you end up doing the exact same thing the next day.

The "That's Just The Way Things Are" Excuse

No matter how often you realize that your routine is what's making your mornings stressful, you still don't try to change things. You simply leave the next day to chance and hope that some magic powder appears on your doorstep and help you arrive at your destination before the bell rings. "This is just the way things are," you would say, and simply leave it at that.

A lot of us are guilty of saying "These are the cards I am dealt with so I just have to cope." We make excuses for things we think we cannot change or improve on. We point fingers at others, at our surroundings, at time, or at existing circumstances to justify our behaviours and linear ways of thinking. We hardly ever blame ourselves.

This is how our bad habits are formed -- by simply not acknowledging that certain attitudes and situations can be modified; by refusing to take that extra step because it's too fussy or takes up too much effort to achieve; by making excuses for every bit of improvement that needs to be implemented, because you've been "doing it this way for years" and you've received no major complaints from anyone else.

That's what you think. Often, our bad habits are more destructive to ourselves than to other people. Sure, others find your chronic lateness and chain smoking annoying and bothersome. However, whatever negative effect our bad habits have on other people is always magnified when applied to ourselves -- only that we refuse to see it.

Perhaps you do find yourself wanting to make changes in your life, particularly on eliminating your bad habits. Good for you! However, nothing would really come out of plans if they remain plans. Action has to be done. And this is what this report will help you achieve.

What Is A Habit?

Habit is defined as an involuntary tendency to perform a particular action, and is often done so due to frequent repetition, as if it's second nature.

Recognizing The Bad Habit

Bad habits are normally recognized simply as 'habits' until the performer or the observer realizes that it is detrimental. This is not to say that bad habits are relative to a person's perception of them. As long as they bring harm or discomfort to you or others, in whatever magnitude and size, they are considered bad.

For instance, parking a gum inside your mouth might not be initially seen as bad because no one else really gets affected by it. Thus, you continue doing so and eventually find yourself enjoying the feeling of having something ready to chew on. Before you know it, you're doing it everyday. It becomes a routine.

However, through careful introspection, you might see that not disposing it after sucking out all the flavour is bad for your teeth and eventually causes bad breath. You will also notice that your speech is a little obstructed. Someone else who hates seeing gum inside other people's mouths while talking to them might get offended. You might get asked to leave the room because of it. It has become a bad habit.

A bad habit is an unfavourable or destructive act or attitude that a person subconsciously or consciously performs at regular periods, often in a highly predictable manner.

You might not notice it, but you might already be nursing a number of bad habits. Their repetitive nature has made them commonplace, like smoking three sticks of cigarettes after every meal, cursing every time you are startled, or gossiping about a workmate's personal life. In fact, chances are, you have gotten so used to doing them that they don't really "feel" bad.

It's high time you realize that they are. And your best course of action is to acknowledge their nature and seek ways to get them out of your life.

Bad Habits: Persistent Offenders

A regular survey would name the following bad habits as the most persistent offenders:

  • smoking

  • drinking too much (alcoholism)

  • procrastinating

  • over-eating,

  • chronic lateness

  • compulsive gambling

  • negative thinking, and

  • overspending.

We will be discussing these in greater detail in the next chapters.

Of course, the list of bad habits can go on to infinity. Anything that extends to misuse, detriment, addiction and abuse can fall under this category. They include cursing or blurting out dirty words, whining, gossiping, nail biting, lying, spitting in public, taking too many medications (characteristic of a hypochondriac), name dropping, interrupting, kissing and telling, etc. Addiction to illegal substances also makes the list, but its gravity requires an entirely new discussion altogether.

If you think you have all the above bad habits and more, it's not the end of the world. There also are habits that are good. Examples, of good habits are saying 'Thank You' when we receive something or somebody does nice things for us, keeping to an exercise routine, drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, and wishing the doorman a good day. Good habits do not have to be monumental.

If we wish to eliminate our bad habits, we need to concentrate on the good that we do and place them at the forefront of our lives. Keeping a positive and disciplined attitude toward replacing the bad with the good requires some effort, especially when we've become so accustomed to the bad, but doing so would bring greater benefits for the longer term.

A bad habit usually fulfils a short-term craving, while a good habit stretches and stays for the long haul.

Facing The Inner Monster

Deciding to give up our bad habits is probably the biggest step we're going to take towards success. However, facing them and actually telling them upfront that we don't want them in our lives anymore is another challenge.

So, how do we stand up against our bad habits? It can be done through persistence and discipline.

Bad habits are stubborn. The key is to equal or surpass them in stubbornness. It sounds difficult at first, but it's actually easier than it looks. After all, you are your own master. You govern your behaviours. Habits, no matter how deeply ingrained they are, do not govern you.

Others have tried different methods to battling the bad-habit monster. Some have sought the support of their family and friends, some sought professional help, some tried hypnosis and alternative medication and meditation techniques, while others simply went cold turkey on their destructive habits (which often ended in vain).

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

We must realize that conquering bad habits requires time and patience. It does not happen during your first, second, third try. Bad habits need to be faced little by little, cunningly, until your positive and let-go attitude has them surrounded.

If you suddenly stop, the chances of them coming back to haunt you increase. However, if you take baby steps and learn to pace yourself at a rate that is comfortable for you, the more likely your offensive and defensive methods will work. Remember that a bad habit has embedded itself into your life -- so extracting it will predictably be quite a task.

Take Cathy's story.

Cathy needs to lose weight because diabetes runs in her family. In order to prevent herself from being diagnosed with the same illness, she decided that she has to let go of her constant cravings for sweets. Going cold turkey was her strategy.

During the first week, she gave up everything that contained sugar. She succeeded. However, in the second week, her cravings started to kick in. Her mind began telling her to take just one bite off that delicious chocolate fudge cake in the refrigerator. It even had her convinced that the headache she was feeling during her 'cold turkey' session was connected to the absence of sweets.

The struggle goes on for two more days and, eventually, she throws up her hands and gives in. "One bite won't hurt," she told herself. She was dead wrong. Before she realized what had happened, she had finished up the entire slice and was reaching for another one. Eventually, she resolved to give up wanting to give up sweets. Her mission had failed.

We might be able to convince ourselves that taking the cold turkey method would work. Well, it does -- but only at the beginning. Our defenses eventually crumble. In the end, we become content with saying, "Well, this is how I really am, then." We are not. If we will it, we change.

"I can change. I can improve. I can grow toward anything I want to be, if I am willing to work. I can follow the path and awaken." -- excerpt from "What Would Buddha Do At Work?"

Answer the following questions (better if you write them down):

  • What are my good and bad habits?

  • Which of these would I like to change now?

  • What is keeping me from changing the bad ones?

  • What can I do to divert my attention from my bad habits?

Your answers to the above will help you pinpoint what your bad habits are and give you a better understanding on why they keep recurring. Keep a log of your responses and carefully monitor your progress. You can even give yourself little rewards for your successes. If you face a blank wall, seek the support of others. The more people are aware of your goals, the easier it will be to achieve them and the stronger your motivations will be.

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