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Bad Habits Aren’t All Bad

Bad Habits Aren’t All Bad
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    You drink to much coffee and you know it. You have to cut back but you have tried and it is just too hard. You succeed for a day or two, but something always happens and you are back to where you started. The problem may be that you are trying to give up all of your habit, not just the negative parts. There are good parts to bad habits. You don’t have to give all of a habit away.

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    Any habit, good or bad, is made up of a bunch of different payoffs. For example, we might drink coffee for the caffeine hit. However we also look forward to the ritual of brewing it, or the flavour and aroma. We enjoy the social side of coffee, or the chance to get away from work for a while. These, and more, are the payoffs from our coffee habit.

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    Out of these payoffs, there are some that are bad for us and others that are not. Usually with coffee, a person will decide to reduce or quit the habit because of the negative effects of the caffeine. Is it necessary to cut out all of the payoffs, by taking the clean sweep approach? Usually not. If we get rid of all of the payoffs at once, we are asking for failure.

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    Instead of cutting out all of the payoffs, good and bad, we can retain the harmless parts and give ourselves a much higher chance of success. With our coffee example, all we have to do is identify ways that retain or replicate these positive payoffs without the caffeine, which is the negative payoff.

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    Of course this flies in the face of conventional addiction treatment. Some would say that this opens up the opportunity for a habit to re-establish itself. I am not an expert on serious addictions. All I know is that it is possible to retain some aspects of a habit without keeping the negative habit itself. I see this as a better alternative, to leave a gaping hole in your life where the habit used to be. I believe it is better to keep as many of the payoffs intact and concentrate on only getting rid of the negative ones.

    So here is the process:

    1. Identify all of the payoffs from the habit you are trying to break. This can take some serious thinking if you want to get to the heart of it.
    2. Decide which of these payoffs are directly related to the negative consequences that you are trying to get rid of.
    3. Decide if, and how, it will be possible for you to retain the other payoffs while avoiding the ones you want to dump.
    4. Get to work.

    If you apply yourself to this, you should experience much more success in modifying your habits. Give it a shot and see if you can drop the bad parts of a habit but still retain the good parts. Remember, bad habits aren’t all bad.

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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