When you really think about it, you will realize that most of life is something we do out of habits. Things like your ‘morning routine’ when you wake up in the morning, to the ‘daily grind’ at work are habits we develop that control about 95% of all our actions. These unconscious thoughts determine the way we think, the way we behave and how we feel in almost any situation we find ourselves in.
Because our habits control the small details that make up our everyday lives, we can say that these habits also are directly related to our bigger issues in life. How much money we make, the person we marry with and even our physical condition and health are some good examples.
Our habits determine our character, the type of person we are to the rest of the world, and ultimately they determine our destiny. So if we embrace our bad habits, which have a negative effect on who we are, the those habits will prevent us from achieving success, and holding us back to reach our fullest potential.
We can only succeed in life, and be the person we were truly meant to be, by breaking bad habits and replacing them with good habits. The purpose of this article is to show you the importance of breaking bad habits of any kind, how to make them become part of your everyday life, and how this will finally lead you to the results you want to achieve.
The definition of insanity is performing the same task over and over again, and expecting a different result. ~ Albert Einstein
When you keep repeating the same bad habits, you would be crazy to think that things will ever change. So let’s start breaking the habit and living your life to its fullest by abandoning bad habits and replace them with positive ones.
Breaking The Habit
I’d like to begin with a personal story. When I was a younger person, I was a heavy smoker. I began smoking in college, and continued well into my 30s. When I started in the 1990s, smoking didn’t have the cultural stigma it does now, but I would lie if I told you I didn’t know that smoking is bad for health. Indeed, I would wake up in the morning with a hacking cough, would feel breathless throughout the day, and by the time I got home at night I was exhausted, even if I hadn’t particularly exerted myself during the day.
Then there was the dependency I developed to the nicotine contained in cigarettes. If I went without a cigarette for longer than one hour or so, I would become jittery and irritable. It was only when I gave my body the drug it needed (yes, nicotine is a drug, actually more addictive than heroin) that I was able to return to my ‘normal’ self.
During all the years that I smoked, I quit smoking literally hundreds of times. I became an expert at quitting smoking, even if I always backslid into the same dirty, unhealthy habit sooner or later. Cold turkey, acupuncture, and nicotine-laced chewing gum, you name it, I tried it.
Every time when I tried to quit smoking, I truly believed that this was the very last time I was going to quit, and put this terrible habit behind me once and for all. Truth is, it never stuck and in the end my desire to smoke became stronger than my desire to stop.
Until one day, I woke up in the morning, realizing that I truly didn’t want to smoke anymore. I realized it was simply something that didn’t fit in my life, either that time or in the future that I saw for myself. Immediatelly, I made a commitment to myself to quit smoking for once and for all. This time it was a lot easier, because I really had no desire to smoke anymore, and after a few weeks of uncomfortable symptoms, I was finally done with it.
Bad Habits VS Good Habits
So how can we define a bad habit, and what the qualities that separates them from good habits? In most cases the distinction is obvious. A habit is a bad habit if:
- It is destructive, harmful or causes a short or long-term danger to you or the people around you.
- It has a negative impact to your self-esteem, the way others look at you, and your overall reputation as a good or bad person.
- There is a pattern of undesirable behavior acquired through frequent repetition.
Usually, bad habits begin innocently. I smoked my first sigarette because some friends were smoking and I was curious about what it felt like, and how it tasted. unfortunately, bad habits have a tendency to quickly snowball.
A single bad habit can act as a magnet to other bad habits. For example, people who smoke often tend to drink more, and people who drink a lot sometimes can be very rude to other people. Soon, something that started as a one-off has escalated into a lifestyle that is self-destructive, ruins your career, your reputation, your family life, or your health. In fact, it can even lead to death.
Examples Of Bad Habits
Practically any habit that can be considered as a good habit, can have a bad counterpart. Some examples we all see a lot around us:
- Destructive personal habit like smoking, drinking and abusing drugs
- Overeating or not living a healthy lifestyle
- Make poor financial decisions
- Failing to live in a positive manner, having a negative perception of the world
So in short we can say that everything that interferes with your ability to live a happy and healthy life can be considered a bad habit.
When Is A Habit An Addiction?
People who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other self-destructive behavior, frequently point to the physical and psychological addiction that prevents them from overcoming their bad habits. Yet, you don’t need to have a chemical or psychological dependency to have an addiction. Addiction is defined as “The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”
With this definition we can conclude that any bad habit is an addiction because it enslaves us, preventing us from achieving our highest potential. Remember that there will be consequences for reversing any bad habit. Yet, these are nothing to fear. Pain or withdrawal symptoms are temporary, quitting lasts forever.
Habitual Behavior, Habits & Beliefs
Habits are not only useful, in fact, we actually rely on our routines to function in our daily lives. In a psychological research we see that of 11,000 signals we receive from our senses, our brain only consciously processes about 40 of them. Our brains use the rote familarity of habits, so we can focus on other ‘higher value’ activities.
Major things like walking, breathing, and chewing our food don’t require the kind of mental focus that solving math problems or playing video games do. These activities are actually habits we have developed that are performed without conscious intent.
Social habits work the same way. Many people take a shower at the same time every single day, to name one. These habits are performed essentially without conscious thought. Bad habits like overeating, or smoking are no exception, even when they can put us in danger or damaging our health or well-being.
Breaking Bad Habits To Achieve Success
Often, we are not able to even perceive that we have bad habits. Have you ever known somebody who has poor personal hygiene, or a friend who drank or partied too much? Usually, those people don’t consciously decide to do their bad habit. They just do it out of… well, habit!
When we take the time to recognize our own bad habits, take corrective actions and replace them with good, positive and healthy habits, the result is permanent change that has a positive effect to our health, prosperity, and happiness for the rest of our life.
Imagine, being an active and healthy person who works out daily without even thinking about it. Or someone who always makes the right food choices, who doesn’t get into financial trouble, studies thoroughly for every exam, performs their work duties without flaw automatically, and so on. Isn’t that something that is desirable? If you could make positive and healthy choises all the time, without even thinking about it, your life would be much easier, wouldn’t it?
Once you are able to recognize your bad habits and replace them with good ones, you can also eliminate the stress and anxiety that those habits cause in your life. Now you finally can achieve the feelings of happiness and well-being that you havel always desired.
You deserve to happy. In your heart you know that to be true. Breaking your bad habits and replacing them with good habits can help you achieve that happiness. Question is, are you willing to take action on it?