BREAKING BAD HABITS - Anthony's Library and Resources

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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

BREAKING BAD HABITS


When you really think about it, most of life is something we do out of habit. From the moment we wake up in the morning to the actions we take throughout the day – our “morning routine”, or “regular breakfast”, our “typical commute”, the “daily grind” at work – the habits we develop literally control about 95% our actions. These types of unconscious thoughts determine what we think, how we feel and how we behave in nearly every situation we find ourselves in.

Because our habits dictate all the small details that make up our everyday lives, they also are directly related to the bigger issues in our lives, such as how much money we earn, the kind of person we marry or live with, our physical condition and health, and every other area of our lives.  Our habits determine our character, the type of person we project to the rest of the world and, ultimately, our destiny. So if we embrace bad habits – those habits which have a negative impact on who we are – then those same habits will prevent us from achieving excellence in our lives, holding us back from reaching our fullest potential.

It’s only by breaking bad habits and replacing them with good habits that we can ultimately succeed in life and be the people we were truly meant to be. The purpose of this guide is to show you how to break bad habits – any sort of bad habit, from those that are damaging to your health, like smoking or not wearing a seat-belt, to those that affect your self-esteem, such as negative thinking or overeating – and replace them with positive behaviours that can become part of your daily life and finally cause you to see the results you truly want.

“Bad” Habits vs. “Good” Habits
So how does one define a “bad” habit, and what qualities separate those from “good” habits? In most cases, the distinction is obvious.  A habit is a “bad” habit if:
  • It is destructive, harmful or poses a short or long-term danger to you or somebody else.
  • It negatively impacts your self-esteem, the way others view you, and your overall reputation as a good or bad person.
  • Is a pattern of undesirable behaviour acquired through frequent repetition.

Usually, bad habits begin innocently. I smoked my first cigarette because my college roommate smoked and I was curious about what it tasted and felt like. But bad habits have a tendency to quickly snowball. A single bad habit can act as a magnet to others. People who smoke often tend to drink. People who drink sometimes use profanity or are rude to other people. People who are rude and profanity might hang out at casinos or horseracing tracks. People who gamble may be more likely to frequent prostitutes or take drugs. Soon, something that started out as a quirk or a one-off has escalated into a lifestyle that is self-destructive, damages your reputation and ultimately can ruin your career, your family life, your health and even end your life.

Examples of Bad Habits
  • Practically any habit that can be considered “good” can have a “bad” counterpart:
  • Destructive personal habits like smoking, drinking and abusing drugs
  • Overeating or not living a healthy lifestyle
  • Making poor financial decisions
  • Gambling
  • Procrastinating
  • Being addicted to sex or pornography
  • Failing to live in a positive manner/Taking a negative view of your world

In short, anything that interferes with your ability to live a happy and healthy life can be considered a bad habit.

When Is a Habit Really An Addiction?
People who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling or other self-destructive behaviour frequently point to the physical and psychological addiction that prevents them from overcoming their bad habits.



But you don’t need to have a chemical or psychological dependency to have an addiction. Addiction is defined as “The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice ….to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” So, in fact, any bad habit is an addiction because it enslaves us, preventing us from achieving our highest potential. Make no mistake: There will be consequences for reversing any bad habit. Yet these are nothing to fear. Pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever.

Using Habits to Achieve Success
Oftentimes, we are not able to even perceive that we have bad habits. Have you ever known or worked with somebody who has poor personal hygiene or had a friend who drank or partied too much? Usually, those people don’t consciously decide to perform their bad habit. They just do it out of … well, habit! When we take the time to recognize our own bad habits, take corrective action and replace them with good, positive and healthy habits, the result is permanent change that pays dividends to our health, prosperity and happiness for the rest of our lives.

Imagine being a fit and active person who works out daily without even thinking about it. Or someone who always makes the right food choices, doesn’t get into financial trouble, studies thoroughly for every exam, performs their work duties without flaw automatically, and so on.  Isn’t that something that is desirable? If you could make healthy, positive choices all the time without even thinking about it, your life would be much, much easier, wouldn’t it?  Once you can replace your bad habits with good habits, you can also eliminate the stress and anxiety that those bad habits cause in your life so that you can finally achieve the feelings of happiness and well-being that you have always desired.

You deserve to be happy. In your heart, you know that to be true. Breaking your bad habits and replacing them with good ones can help you achieve that happiness. Are you ready to get started?

When Habits are Controlling and Ruining Your Life
Every bad habit can be damaging to your physical and/or mental health, but some are more serious than others. While biting your fingernails may not be sanitary or particularly healthy, it probably isn’t going to kill you the way shooting heroin or eating fast food every day eventually will.  Making bad choices almost always leads to making more bad choices. Even the most innocuous poor decision can sometimes lead to a downward spiral that leaves you wondering what just happened. Even the smallest of bad habits can have a profound negative effect on the rest of your life.

Cheating on your taxes, for example, can lead to “rounding up” on your hourly timesheet, which can lead to “borrowing” from your company’s petty cash fund, which can lead to changing the books so that additional funds are diverted into your private accounts. You’ve graduated from a tax cheat into an embezzler!



Root Causes of Bad Habits
After you have identified a bad habit and begun to track it in your daily life, this will often lead to a search for the root causes of your bad habit.  While you don’t want to blame other people or situational environments for your bad habits – you own them, they are entirely yours alone – you can still try to understand what is triggering these bad habits. For example, if your bad habit is that you use rough language too often, pay attention to when you find yourself swearing. Who are you with?  Who do you never swear in front of? Or if your bad habit is that you are a compulsive gambler, what are the triggers that get you thinking about gambling? Do you have to pass by a casino or racetrack on your way home from work every day? Is there a particular convenience store where you always buy your lottery tickets? Understanding the situations and triggers that cause us to act on our bad habits will be useful later when we are working to end them.

Consequences
The next step of developing self-awareness about your bad habit is something I like to call “Putting two and two together”. Earlier, you thought about what it was you wanted out of life. You identified some global objectives that you wanted to work toward. Perhaps you were able to envision an idealized life for yourself or there is somebody you admire who is living the type of life you want for yourself. Now I want you to think about what is it that is preventing you from achieving this ideal. What is it about your bad habit that is standing in the way of you and your objective? In other words, I want you to “do the math” so that you can see exactly how your actions are directly causing the consequence that you are experiencing.  It is simply cause and effect. Your bad habits are the cause. The effect is that you aren’t living the life you want. Yet for your entire life up to this point, you haven’t been able to put two and two together and come to the realization that your actions are causing your consequences.

How Good Habits Will Impact Your Life
Congratulations! The hardest part is over. Increasing your self-awareness to the point where you realize that you have to make a change is the hardest part of the self-improvement process. Unlike 99.99% of people with bad habits, you are now able to admit you have a problem and accept full responsibility for dealing with it.  The last chapter was the most difficult part of the change process. It’s natural for people not to want to admit weakness or to deny they have a problem that needs to be addressed. Yet making this breakthrough is an essential part of the recovery process. And you have made it! In this section, we are now going to turn our attention to creating an environment of positivity that is going to give you the strength and support you need to nurture yourself to a new, health and life-affirming habit.

The Benefit of Good Habits
You may recall that about 95% of the things we do every day are out of habit. When you can eliminate bad habits and replace them with good ones, positive things will start to happen to you automatically. Legendary motivational speaker Earl Nightingale once said that if you are willing to devote just one hour per day to studying within your field, you can get to a leadership position within your chosen profession in just three years. One hour per day of study will make you a national authority in five years. And within seven years, you can be one of the most recognized experts in the world.



Reading an hour per day in your field translates to about one book per week. So you can see that something as simple as developing a positive habit like reading an hour per day can not only bring positivity, but can actually transform your life.  Like a commercial airliner that has all of the significant flight information programmed into its onboard computer so that it can fly on automatic pilot, the good habits we develop are the “mental software” that will allow us to reach our ultimate objectives without even having to think about it.

Motivation and Enthusiasm
It’s helpful to have motivation to keep you on your path. This can be either internal or external motivation. Internal motivation is things you do to support your decision to make changes in your life, such as reinforcing positive behaviour with rewards or posting inspirational messages in places where you will see them frequently.

Be creative. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, find a photo of yourself at your fattest, have it blown up and tape it to the door of your refrigerator. This will cause you to think twice when you sneak into the kitchen for a late night snack. External motivation is when other people encourage and support you to success. These can be loved ones and friends, professionals like therapists and life coaches, and even experts who have written books or produced videos that inspire you.  The more internal and external motivation you use to keep you on your chosen path, the more enthusiastic you will become about your journey and the more likely you will be to succeed and achieve your Power Goals.



Asking for Help
Some bad habits are so powerful that it’s nearly impossible to overcome them on your own. Addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex and other life-threatening habits may require you to get professional help, as well as the support and assistance of your family and friends.  It’s natural not to want to ask for help. People’s personal pride or even embarrassment often gets in the way. But if your bad habit is so strong that you aren’t going to be able to break it without help, then you need to set your reluctance aside and turn to other people to help you.

Think of it this way: There is no shame in wanting to be a better person. Even though it may seem to you that other people may think less of you if you admit that you have a problem, in reality most people are going to give you credit for trying to do something about it.

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