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How To Break Bad Habits Once and For All

How To Break Bad Habits Once and For All

Bad habits are destructive for your mind, body, and soul. Whether it’s chain-smoking, channel-surfing, nail-biting or emotional eating, there’s no denying the fact that our bad habits are harmful to our health. Bad habits aren’t something you’re born with. They are the result of months or years of consistent repetition. The good news? The inverse is also true; just like bad habits are created by consistent repetition,  you can break bad habits with consistent repetition. Challenge accepted? Keep on reading.

Find the root cause.

Your bad habits didn’t magically develop all by themselves. They have been built up by years of repetition and thus, they won’t be easy to eliminate. This is why most people who attempt to lose weight by going on a super restrictive crash diet fail. Attempting to remodel your behavior overnight is a doomed strategy that will cause you to get overwhelmed and quit. Before you do anything else, do some soul-searching to discover the root cause of your bad habit. For example:

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  • Do you eat fried foods or sweets because they offer you comfort on a stressful day?
  • Are you smoking cigarettes because they calm your nerves at work?
  • Does television offer a distraction from the problems you’re afraid to confront in the real world?

The first step to breaking a bad habit is to understand why it exists.

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Identify your triggers.

If you want to break your bad habit for good, I encourage you to begin a diary today. Write down any circumstances, thoughts, or feelings that you experience before lighting up a cigarette or eating a candy bar. For example, I once had a personal training client who experienced fierce cravings for ice cream. I asked her to start a diary and write down anything that transpired right before her cravings. We discovered something very interesting: she didn’t want ice cream at all. Her true desire? More attention from her boyfriend. She felt neglected and unappreciated because her partner didn’t spend much time with her, and any time she experienced stress due to this issue, her craving followed. Being aware of your triggers will help you find the true sources of stress that need attention. You will also be much more likely to avoid temptation when you are able to look out for the triggers behind the wheel of your decisions.

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Pick a positive alternative.

Breaking bad habits requires consistent practice and repetition. To re-wire your brain, choose a positive behavior to replace your bad habit. Recall my past client who reached for a bowl of ice cream any time she felt neglected by her boyfriend. She had a cute puppy who she just adopted, so I asked her to start taking her pup outside for a brief walk every time she experienced her trigger. At first, she sometimes came back inside to eat a bowl of ice cream (at least she walked off a few of the calories) but as the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” After several weeks of repetition, she successfully replaced her bad habit with the positive alternative. Don’t become discouraged if it takes you a few days or weeks to make any progress. Bad habits built up over months and years are not easy to break. Keep your head high and maintain a Big Picture mindset. This is NOT a 30-day program–it’s a life-long journey.

Hold yourself accountable.

Feeling brave? Proclaim your intention to break your bad habit to the world. Post a status on Facebook to inform your entire network of your goal. Sound scary? It is. But making your friends aware of your goal will motivate you unlike anything else. Added bonus: you will instantly create a cheerleading squad who will encourage you that you can do it.

Go forth and crush it.

Anyone can break bad habits by following the steps outlined here. You are capable of accomplishing anything you set your mind to. If you’re feeling brave, go ahead and comment below with a bad habit you intend to eliminate. Have a question? Ask away. I’m here to support you in any way I can.

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More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.

They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.

It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.

1. They Manage Their Expectations

They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.

2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards

Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.

3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted

Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.

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4. They’re Not Materialistic

There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?

5. They Don’t Dwell

They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.

6. They Care About Themselves First

They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.

They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.

7. They Enjoy the Little Things

They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.

8. They Can Adapt

They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.

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9. They Experiment

They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.

10. They Take Their Time

They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.

11. They Employ Different Perspectives

They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.

12. They Seek to Learn

Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.

13. They Always Have a Plan

They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.

14. They Give Respect to Get It

They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.

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15. They Consider Every Opportunity

They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.

16. They Always Seek to Improve

Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.

17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.

18. They Live in the Moment

They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.

You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

19. They Say Yes

Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.

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20. They’re Self-Aware

Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.

We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.

Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.

Learn about How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

Final Thoughts

The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.

For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.

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Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com

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