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Habits That Hinder

January 19, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

Wow, how stupid am I or, I guess I should say, what a habit driven man am I?  A few days ago, my wife and I drove our SUV to do a little shopping.  We spent maybe a half an hour at Walmart, walked back to the car, and were surprised to see, when I turned the key, that the car was already running! The SUV is the vehicle that my wife drives, while I have become totally used to driving my Tesla that doesn’t use a key and starts by putting your foot on the brake pedal. When you leave the car, you just walk away, with the electric engine stopping on its own and the car doors locking when you are a few yards away. So, my habit from driving the Tesla was so strong that when I drove our SUV, that habit took over and I didn’t even know it.

Most of the time, when we talk or read about habits, we are usually referring to bad habits.  One interesting and good thing to know, which sadly many people don’t, is that there are methods that can help you change your bad habits and develop good habits. It takes time and you need to consistently stick with the plan or method to make those changes but it can be done.

The most common bad habits make up quite a list. The following is not even close to a complete list of bad habits, but take a look and ask yourself if you suffer from any of these:

  1. Smoking
  2. Heavy alcohol drinking
  3. Watching too much TV
  4. Being on the computer or smart phone too much
  5. Spending too much time playing video games
  6. Eating unhealthy junk food
  7. Eating way too much food
  8. Consuming too much sugar
  9. Eating late night snacks
  10. Not allowing enough time for a full night sleep
  11. Complaining about almost everything
  12. Behavior that leaves you angry, worried or stressed
  13. Overspending your way into debt
  14. Being consistently late
  15. Being rude to others
  16. Road rage
  17. Driving too fast
  18. Losing your temper
  19. Lying
  20. Procrastinating
  21. Always bragging
  22. Being a know it all
  23. Letting fear stop you from doing something new
  24. Spending time with negative friends to bring you down
  25. Being pessimistic
  26. Always interrupting other people
  27. Swearing constantly
  28. Nail biting
  29. Picking your nose
  30. Slouching and poor posture

And, yes, that is just a very short list compared to some of the lists I have seen. So how many, if any, of these bad habits do you have and would like to get rid of? What causes bad habits in the first place and what can you do to drop a bad habit and take on good habits? I will address the answers to those questions in next week’s blog.

Turning Bad Habits Around

October 6, 2019 by  
Filed under blog

Last week I wrote about the great power of setting big goals and how they stimulate and motivate the brain and the body to go after your big dreams. In his great book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about how important it is to set big goals and little steps for those goals so as to help you form habits that greatly increase your chances of success. Our habits are so critically important to what we do with our lives and how we end up. Yes, there are lots of good habits and lots of bad habits. The good news is that those bad habits that drag us down and might destroy our lives can be changed, even though it does take work and special plans.

One of the keys to breaking bad habits is what he refers to as the “small win”. As he says, “Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes. A huge body of research has shown that small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishment of the victories themselves.”

“Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage,” one Cornell professor wrote in 1984. “Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win. Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging time advantages into pattern that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.”

Hmm. I’d call that the formation of a habit, and that is a very good thing. Okay, but how then do we change a bad habit?

Charles Duhigg gives very good and well tested advice to change a habit. For example, keep an index card or journal and make note of the impulses. If, after a few days, you see a lot of notes, take time to come up with an alternative habit or routine to use every time you feel those negative impulses.

The author has told patients that if, for example, they eat too much and their eating impulse wins most of the time, they should substitute a new desired habit like taking a 3- or 5-minute walk or spending a few minutes on the internet. He talks about one patient that had a life-long habit of biting her fingernails. They came up with a new habit which was to have her simply sit on her hands till the urge left. More than three dozen of his students who were smokers overcame that habit by choosing a new routine or habit every time they had the urge to smoke, like chewing a piece of Nicorette, or doing a quick series of push-ups, or simply taking a few minutes to stretch and relax.

He goes on to say, “It seems ridiculously simple, but once you’re aware of how your habit works, once you recognize the cues and rewards, you’re halfway to changing it … Today, habit reversal therapy is used to treat verbal and physical tics, depression, smoking, gambling problems, anxiety, bedwetting, procrastination, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and other behavioral problems.”

So, come up with a new habit to replace an old and unwanted habit – it really works!