BAD HABITS ARE THE BANE OF YOUR EXISTENCE, and they are detrimental to your overall health. In every aspect of your person, bad habits are like gunk that build up over time, that you would hardly notice the flow slow down into a stop. Suddenly you find yourself getting near the mid life with nothing to be proud of yourself. We have seen that story come to a close in many ways, sometimes in the most personal way.
We know the story of that man or woman who complains about life, how nothings seems to go his or her way, how unfair the entire structure of society is and the he or she has been set up to fail from the start.
But that is a lie they keep telling themselves, something that prevents them from actually accomplishing anything because of arbitrary controllable reasons. Instead of being the ones taking action, they play the victim, blaming their environment for their circumstance. But they fail to see that this is just natural selection at work, those who survive are those who fit best into the uncontrollable.
One of my favorite anecdotes comes from Kris Gethin, which is a staple for his workout mantra: Control your environment, don’t let it control you. And in most cases, you have all the capabilities to survive and thrive in the situations of daily life you find yourself in. It’s just a matter of deciding to take charge.
But it starts by cutting off the dead weights.
Bad Habits are the Bane of your existence.
The most common reason why people are miserable could be attributed to the accumulation of bad habits. When we wake up late consistently, or make poor choices based on preference consistently, or just do something not worthwhile or unproductive consistently.
And the key word is ‘consistently’.
Let’s take a look at our lives at a timeline, what would your life look like if we take a daily slice? How would it look like to you? If you spread it to a week, then to a month. I’m sure you will find a pattern, which once reflected would actually show the blueprint of your life.
And is that a blueprint for success?
Take a look at your life from this kind of perspective, and you will see the behaviors that make up your life: You habits. These are actions you do on such a consistent basis that it becomes unconscious, like what food your start your day with, what manner you take your coffee, what route you take home or to work. We don’t really think about this things, because that’s the beauty of habits, they make up your entire person. But habits do exist for a simple reasons of satisfying a need, but more often: A Compulsion.
Nail biters for example would bite their nails under varying circumstances, some just unconsciously bite their nails when idle, some when they become anxious. But it does vary, and the need to do that is the foundation of a habit. Habits are generally harmless, because they just lead us to do somethings driven from the back of our minds.
But of course this includes certain actions that make us worse, like every 8PM you will start watching TV until 11PM, or you will go for a beer after work daily, or you will just wake up at mid day consistently.
We do have automated aspects of our lives that are detrimental and keeps us from actually reaching our true potential.
So what are your bad habits?
Take Control of Your Habits
Awareness sure is key to targeting those bad pieces of code embedded into our systems. Because of how covert habits are, we have to be vigilant when the automation kicks in. And this is in no way easy. It’s extremely difficult, and should not be taken as a decision that will immediately take place.
We have heard stories of people who stop smoking the day they decided to stop, and have never touched another stick up to present day. But the will power to resist, not just the chemical induced addiction from smoking, and the mental and emotional factors as well, takes tremendous mastery of your self.
Those decisions always come at a price, when I say tomorrow: I will wake up early and do some cardio. That doesn’t really happen, because when I wake up to my alarm clock, the bed becomes warmer, softer and just irresistible. And this is one example of what I happen to struggle with for past few weeks ever since I decided to try and improve myself.
But I did develop a new habit in my blogging. And I’m proud of the fact, that despite low days (yesterday for example), I managed to publish a post (although poorly written). Because I have made that conscious decision to update this blog on a daily basis.
And that’s just it. The conscious decision to take control of our habits is the secret formula. As I’ve said earlier, Awareness, we have to keep track of these things, keep them in our heads until they become second nature. Until they override the old blueprint with something we have manufactured ourselves.
The HOW TO in this HOW TO
So now, we know some key things:
- We are hard wired to automate aspects of our person, and these are called habits.
- Habits make up who we are, and they are hidden in the deeper recesses of our minds.
- Changing habits require a conscious effort, and are extremely difficult.
Therefore, with these things known, what can we do? I remember the Scrubs episode of the Obese Girl who sasses her way into a gastric by pass, taking the easy way out of her image problem. But Dr. Kelso lays down the truth and making the girl realize:
“That nothing worth having comes easy.”
-Dr. Bob Kelso, Scrubs
And so I start this section with that in mind: Nothing worth having comes easy. If you just let that sink in for a while, keep that in your head and let it swirl in your thoughts, maybe you won’t need to read further. Maybe you just become aware that you do have to take action and remember that no matter how hard it gets, anything worth getting comes at a price.
Well, let’s break down the suggestion given by Charles Duhigg in the Power of Habit (It’s an awesome book, you could go a long way in learning from this book). It begins with accepting one harsh fact: YOU CAN NEVER DELETE A HABIT.
Yes, we must first acknowledge that whatever habit we have right now is there for good. Because habits do serve a purpose, they satisfy a need or compulsion. Nail bitters bite nails because of a reason. It varies from person to person, but there will always be a need.
So if you have a bad habit, you have to change it and not attempt to get rid of it. In the case of the smoker who stopped smoking, the compulsion is satisfied by shifting to another habit. So try experimenting with your life, target the bad habit and identify what causes it.
Example: How to Stop your Facebook Habit
One of my bad habits was Friendster then Facebook, which I got so invested in during my college days. I would often spend my free time looking for an internet shop and just browse the news feed and like random shit, click random shit, and play the recent game trend on the browser at the time.
It was a shallow experience that led to no where. I was interacting with people I didn’t like, and posting random comments about my opinions to impress people I don’t really engage with in real life. This commanded a good portion of my time, and when I decided to stop facebook, I deleted my account. But after a few months, I reactivated it again and the cycle resumed. And all because I didn’t target the need that facebook was satisfying.
So I looked at my routine, and observed at what makes me open facebook. I saw that I was anxious and wanted to learn what my friends were up to these days. These moments came when my thoughts lingered in meeting with my friends, and catching up to them. So my trigger was longing for my friends. Facebook allowed me to make shallow conversation by contributing to comment thread, or by interacting on our virtual farms, or sharing energy in our virtual games. I just wanted to interact with my friends. And not even all of my friends, now I just call my facebook friend list my acquaintance list because of how little I value their existence in my life.
With this in mind, I began to search for other means to interact with my friends without opening facebook. And this is why I would text my friends instead, I would prefer meet ups and conversations in real life, which will only take up an hour or less of my life. Slowly, but surely, I managed to get rid of my facebook habit. For professional reasons, I do still maintain a facebook account, but thanks to filtered push notifications, I only open that app when I need to read an update from the big bosses. But thanks to Facebook Groups, I don’t even have to open the actual app itself, just that filtered section of facebook that doesn’t contain the unnecessaries.
Now, this isn’t a sure fire solution for everybody with a Facebook compulsion, but that’s how I got rid of the habit of opening the app.
Again, the thing that is supposed to be taken from this is that you have to morph your bad habits, and not get rid of them.
Now to end this all up, what if you want to develop a new habit? What can you do? Habits are generally created by a need (as I’ve mentioned above), so the secret really is created a need and the habit will follow, then you have the power to mold the habit as you please.
Let’s say you want to get into working out. To make that habit, you have to feed a need. People get into working out without even knowing why they do it. To get a better body? To be healthier? Those are just goals with no desire to make it come true. There is no point, because unless those goals become something that drives you, that makes you feel empty at the end of the day, the HABIT WILL NOT STICK.
Developing this obsession is for another post, but I hope you guys find the Bad Habit Modification on this post. Just remember:
AWARENESS AND CONSCIOUS DECISIONS ARE THE TOOLS TO REMAKING YOUR BAD HABITS!