The word “habits” has always been a big word to me. I have always believed they make me; they’re a big player that helps create my future.
If you’re neglecting this idea, think again.
Realistically, habits compose around 40 to 50 percent of our actions. What do you think of when you hear the word “habits”? Is it the good ones or the bad?
I’ll be discussing about bad habits. Yes, bad habits die hard. Maybe for starters, bad habits would come first before the good habits. They are the ones that give us an instant “reward” for giving in to them. (Would you get the same reward if you imposed good habits upon yourself straightaway? Don’t kid yourself.)
With easily-formed bad habits, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine. It’s what keeps us coming back to a specific behavior. This effect is very similar to that which happens to addicts, regardless of the type. Addicts keep going back to an activity because they’d always think it will make them feel better, even if it actually won’t. Dopamine helps trigger that underlying kind of thinking.
Scientists say it takes an average of 66 days to form habits. The trigger, the behavior itself, and the reward are the three steps that would make a “habit loop.”
I’d say whether bad or good habits, and whether easy or not, you can definitely form them.
If you’re one of those bad boys (or girls, pun intended) who says, “Bad habits die hard,” and simply believe it’s true, look out for the following mistakes you might be making. If bad habits die hard, you could be wiser and more vigilant.
1. You simply allow a bad attitude.
Now talk about a positive attitude.
Cognitive-Behavioral psychology tells us that our attitude and the way we think about things in general are strongly interconnected.
If you want to stop bad habits from taking over your life, embrace the desire to break them or rather create good ones. Perhaps you can’t break them, which you also complain about, because you simply wouldn’t accept there’s a need to have a change in attitude.
Think of it as a good start. Breaking bad habits won’t be easy. There will be moments when you’d eventually give in, whether easily or not. When that happens, continue projecting a good attitude. Don’t stop. Treat it as a moment of realization, as if it happens for the first time.
2. You’re not being mindful.
So you think your mind isn’t sharp enough to retain important information or identify what’s important in the first place?
The next time you do a bad habit again—stop. Walk away for about 5 minutes and create a mini-session with yourself to think about what just happened. You don’t meditate? Now would be the perfect time to try it. Meditation can be done anywhere as long as you’re not getting disturbed. That would be in quiet or not-so-noisy places.
Mere “thinking” doesn’t work for you? Make a journal. Writing down your thoughts is a great way to organize them and remind yourself of your epiphanies. Then read your journal twice a day—upon rising and retiring.
These simple ways can get you more and more aware every time.
3. You’re not persistent.
Attitude okay? Check. Noting worthwhile lessons? No problem.
Now, be persistent. What’s the whole point if you’re going to stop fighting bad habits after a month? How about in a year or two?
You could break bad habits in a ridiculously short period of time; it could be a lifetime journey. You may have the heart and mind to do that—be proud of yourself for that. But deciding you must have a time off in this endeavor might only bring you back in circles sooner or later.
Don’t give up.
4. You put too much faith on willpower.
It will always take more than willpower to change.
Habits are automatic. You have acquired them through frequent repetition, as if they’ve been hardwired in you. But merely depending on your willpower alone won’t work. Your sudden change in willpower won’t stop your bad habits, which you may have been manifesting all your life.
Willpower must be translated into a physical activity for it to work.
5. You don’t exercise.
Time and again, exercise is recommended for many facets of the human life.
Self-control, or willpower, can be improved by exercise.
If you can’t commit to a regular exercise schedule, at least try to get physical wherever you are. Walk a few blocks instead of taking a cab right away. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Don’t feel bad doing some household chores—be thankful you can move!
6. You don’t deal with the triggers.
This is the most important mistake you could be making—avoiding to face the triggers. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Get rid of the fire.
And it could be easier than you think.
I’ve always believed in being practical. If you can avoid something, then do so immediately. It should be as simple as that. Don’t think you can improve your self-control by constantly challenging it—by simply allowing triggers to tease you.
Want to quit smoking? Change your route on which you won’t pass by a convenience store or some smoking area. Want to write faster? Disconnect the internet. Want to be more positive? Stay away from negative people.
Remember this: The things you have control over—control them! You may not totally do it, but use the power that you have, control what you can. There could actually be plenty of little things with which you can do this.
7. You don’t create good habits.
You know that bad habits die hard, but you don’t have to focus all your energy and sanity on just breaking them.
One fantastic way to beat bad habits is to create good ones. The bad may not totally disappear even over the long haul, but you can strengthen the good habits enough to overpower the bad ones.
8. You don’t reward yourself for your efforts.
Take a break. Celebrate. Don’t be hard on yourself.
Heck, even the busiest people in the world need to reward themselves. It’s only a question of how one’s going to do it.
Breaking bad habits must be that important to you. But meeting just one goal is a good enough reason to celebrate. Have one little celebration at a time, just as you would in pursuing a big end result. Like your work schedule, break down your efforts into segments, a segment being a prerequisite for another one.
Let’s go back to our examples. If you want to quit smoking, try reducing the number of sticks a day first. If you can’t live without the internet, try cutting down with two hours first. If your workplace is a lair for negative people, read materials that would uplift your soul.
Set marks on your “small achievements” calendar and when you make them happen, reward yourself. And when you do, be reminded that you’re on the right track.
9. You don’t seek help.
Don’t look far. You have people in your life who will support you all the way.
A simple encouragement from your family or friends could take you a long way. You can even ask them to literally watch over you. Have an accountability buddy. Meet regularly and have honest and sincere talks about your journey on quitting bad habits. Or perhaps make a deal with them that would hurt. Think treating them to dinner for every failed attempt.
You know you want to do this; you want this so bad. But don’t deny help when you truly need it. You can have many great options in dealing with your bad habits. Seeking help is one of them, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it.
Think About It
In some cases, whether a habit is good or bad would depend on the person. The issue would most likely be priorities. A good habit for one person may be terrible for another person. Moreover, there is no best way for breaking bad habits. It’s a process in which people would respond differently.
Remember the third step that completes the “habit loop,” the reward. That reward is only of the moment; it’s what you want to experience. That precisely helps build the foundation of bad habits.
When it comes to habits—always be aware of your future.
Slowly, even though not perfectly, you’ll build a better character. Bad habits die hard? Sure, but you can do better than that, anytime. In fact, your bad habits may stay with you for the rest of your life. But they shouldn’t rule over you. You are stronger than them.
Think about these mistakes you might be making. They may be simple, but your bad habits did start in simple ways too. Believe in yourself. If you have allowed those bad habits to grow, you sure can also allow better things to make them stop!
Speak Your Mind
What’s the mistake you keep on making when it comes to your bad habits? Do you find building good habits helpful in breaking the bad ones? Tell us what you think by posting your comments below!