Even bad habits have something useful to teach us

In Changing life, Life goals, Productivity on June 25, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Habits. We all have them. Lost some along the journey of life. Picked up some new ones as well.  They’re a natural part of living. As certain as day follows night follows day follows day (you get the drift…)

Some are good. Some are not so good. Some are harmless. Some are harmful.

But perhaps, habits, and especially bad habits, get a bad rap in the story called Life. How can you utilise habits to propel you to success or at least do least damage so you don’t end up with vanished years, missed opportunities or just ugly health?

Good habits

‘Good’ habits are easy to deal with. Just practice them more! Cultivate and nurture them so they get stronger and become part of your core. Requires efforts and energy though till it becomes automatic. Of course one person’s ‘good’ habit may not be seen by another as a good thing. Everyone has a relative take on life. Don’t try to figure it out too much. If you automatically resort to habitual behaviour that helps you to grow, helps others/ refrains from harming them, then that’s good. I was always told to concentrate on one thing instead of five things, which is an ongoing habit of mine. “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Maybe some merit in that. But, even if I try, it never lasts long. Not in my nature. In the 21st century there’s so much interesting stuff happening all the time, life’s just too short!  At least, I hope I keep my brain cells from atrophying. That’s the price to pay for only going so deep, and not deep enough to master something.

Bad Habits

With bad habits – and there are bad habits – these are more tricky. Getting proper help sometimes does help loosen their grip. Definitely if its an addiction that’s a whole different ball game. Going at normal habits with a bulldozer, I’m not so sure.

The term ‘break a habit‘ suggests you have crush habits that ain’t good, into the ground. No mercy! An initial surge of determination that sees you wage war on the vice, gremlin or tricky habit that keeps you from making progress or from just being happier than you could or should be. Normally the energy of trying to ‘break’ a habit takes a lot of mental and emotional balls, which can leave you knackered. The power of a habit reasserts itself. Damn. “Old habits die hard” as some old fool said.

Whichever way is best though, cutting off their source or trigger is a good thing. Like slaying the mythical monster in the lair. I prefer the idea of overcoming a habit. Like going around it to defeat it. Overcoming requires acceptance of your habits. And of yourself. Its part of your nature – at this point in time, and that, depending what it is you’re habitual about, is just fine. Mark Twain, a vocal champion of habits said “Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs one step at a time.”

Perfection is overated! As is keeping up appearances. It’s ok to be rough around the edges. Your bad habit, is a bad habit at this point of time, is the thing to remember. This is important  – as it is a point in time, which means it doesn’t always have to be that way. Change is possible, though not inevitable. Nothing…just…happens. Self-acceptance of your bad habits means a bit of self-understanding and then you can start to overcome. You start to own the habit instead of it owning you. Go around. Be a crafty bastard. Reinforce your good habits to suck the energy out of bad habits. A good by- product of accepting your bad habits, I think, is the more accepting you are of your own foibles, the more accepting you are of others people’s habits. Even if you want to throttle them sometimes.


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