Common Sense Advice on Avoiding Bad Habits

Which do you think is more difficult -- avoiding a bad habit or quitting one after you've started it? That's right, habit avoidance is always going to be easier than having to fight an entrenched bad habit. However, it's impossible for us to avoid all bad habits. Some are going to sneak through our defenses. They can stealthily insert themselves into our daily routines and sabotage the heck out of us. However, we can catch most of them before they become part of our daily lives.

The avoiding of some bad habits can be as easy as resisting temptation. Temptation can make us do some really stupid -- and harmful -- things. If we avoid giving into temptation, or avoid exposing ourselves to it entirely, we can avoid many of the bad habits that plague our peers. An example is the bad habit of smoking. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that serves no good purpose in our bodies, yet tens of millions of us smoke cigarettes every day. We all know that cigarettes cause cancer and emphysema, diseases that destroy lives and families. Millions succomb to tobacco-caused illnesses every year, yet people continue to get hooked on the nicotine sticks. The best way to avoid becoming yet another tobacco statistic is to avoid smoking in the first place. Say no to that first cigarette. Nearly everyone who has ever started smoking has told themselves that they'll be able to quit at any time. Most of them are either dead or dying. Is that a future that you want? Didn't think so. If you avoid smoking the first cigarette, the poisonous chemicals found in cigarette smoke will never get into your body. Be different from everyone else in your group and say "No thanks" to that first cigarette. You can apply the same thinking to a number of other bad habits that you might encounter.

Overindulgence often produces bad habits. Take eating for an example. Everyone needs to eat. Food sustains us -- gives us energy, proteins to help repair our bodies and special nutrients to combat any number of various diseases. Eating is not a bad habit. However, eating too much is. Excessive calorie intake, whether it be from eating too much, or eating the wrong things, can cause a myriad of health and social issues. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke -- all of these stem from making poor food choices, or making bad decisions on how much food to eat. If you can impose a system of checks into your eating routine, whether this food is unhealthy, or that food should only be eaten sparingly, you can avoid the consequences of poor eating habits, and literally save your own life.

Are you a member of the Couch Potato Society? You know, the group whose motto seems to be "getting up and going to the fridge three times during the game is enough exercise". I used to be that way. Even obesity didn't sway me from the cause. It wasn't until I developed heart disease that I started listening to experts and left the ranks of the Couch Potato forever.

Not exercising is just as bad as overindulging on food. Exercise not only burns off all of those unnecessary (but oh so enjoyable!) calories, but it strengthens the muscles of your body. The key muscle being that of your heart. The one thing that keeps you alive. The muscle that I foolishly chose to let deteriorate. Don't live a sedentary lifestyle. It's bad enough that many of our jobs force us to sit still in front of a computer screen, we should sit still staring at a television screen at night. Make a point of getting up every hour. Stand up, move around, just don't walk over to the kitchen. Not unless you're getting another glass of water. Studies have shown that getting to our feet and moving around for 5 minutes every hour during the day and evening can improve our overall health and reduce our risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer. So, break the bad habit of sitting on the couch like a slug. Better still, make a point of going for a walk every evening after work. Thirty minutes of walking four times a week can do wonders to rescue a heart from disease and inevitable failure.

Some bad habits involve matters of personal hygiene. Skipping out in the morning without having washed or showered. Not bothering to change your clothes every day. Not bothering to comb your hair (or even wash it occasionally) and neglecting to brush your teeth. All of these are bad habits that can develop without even realizing it. Did you oversleep? Do you only have 15 minutes to complete a 30 minute commute? Of course you're going to skip the bathroom routine and grab the shirt you dumped on the floor the night before. But pretty soon, you start doing it on days when you didn't oversleep. When you had the time for a quick shower, a shave, and a successful hunt for clean clothes to wear. Best way to avoid this problem is to get to bed earlier, and to set your alarm to 30 minutes earlier than it is. Remember this (overly) simple motto: if you stink, so will your personal life. (If only I had known this when I was in my teens!)

I guess we can extend that motto to cover bad habits in general. The presence of many bad habits and stink up your personal life and make any relationship that you're in go through rocky times. Let's say that you've found That One that you want to spend the rest of your life with. Just being with them makes you happy and feel alive. You decide to make a commitment to each other -- the "forsaking all others" part that are found in most wedding vows -- and your spouse-to-be discovers that you've been hiding some bad (damaging) habits. A tendency to flirt outrageously in social gatherings. Enjoying porn when the other isn't looking. Indulging in some other behavior that might call into question your devotion to the person of your dreams. If you have a problem, don't try and hide it from them. They're going to find out anyways, sooner or later. Because you WILL mess up eventually, and no amount of verbal back-pedalling and promises of "never again" are going to make up for the hurt and pain it'll cause. Hiding our failings from others is another bad habit that we need to avoid. Let the love of your life know before he/she makes the final commitment and ask them for help to overcome them. They say "A happy wife is a happy life". I'm not sure what the male equivalent might be. Don't make them jealous. Don't give them cause to doubt your sincerity. Your trustworthiness. Your devotion to them. Deal with your problems up front, and don't do anything that can hurt the other.

Avoiding the development of bad habits, and successfully dealing with the ones you already have, will help you live a happier and healthier life.

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