We develop our habits knowingly and unknowingly. We develop our individual way of thinking, doing and saying things. We soon become quite content with that and the way we are. Habits become so much part of our personality that we find it hard to get rid of them. Soon they become a necessity and we become slaves to our habits.
Our success in career, life and everything we do depends so much on our habits. Our happiness, competency, and effectiveness are all results of our habits. Bad habits weigh us down, pull us back and prevent us from achieving our potential. They make us unhappy and unproductive. If we want to lead healthy and productive lives we need to cultivate healthy habits in ourselves, those that will build up our personality.
Bad habits are like comfortable beds, easy to get into but hard to get out of. Man has always sought a way to ease his pain, forget his hunger and loneliness and find short cuts to happiness through drinking, smoking or taking drugs.
Many of these addictive habits today have attained social respectability inspite of the dangers involved in them. Media has made bad habits symbols of sophisticated, attractive and glamorous living. Young people think of it as a sign of maturity and adulthood.
Once a drunkard wanted to get rid of his drinking habit. But he soon fell into the same trap. “What about your promise?” asked his wife.
The man answered that he was trying his best to give up drinking but proceeding in stages. It was just like chopping off the word ‘habit’, he explained. When you cut off the initial ‘h’ from the word ‘habit’ ‘a bit’ persists. Knock off ‘a’ and the ‘bit’ remains. Knock off ‘b, yet ‘it’ remains. Habit is like a web. We weave a thread of it everyday and at last we are caught up in it to such an extent that we cannot break it.
Here are some ways to break your habits before they break you.
* Have a high self-esteem: We are addicted to bad habits because of our poor self-esteem. People with high self-image and self-acceptance never fall prey to such habits. Those who try to escape from the problems of life and who are cowards often land in the lap of these seductive habits and die there. Develop high self-esteem if you want to win the battle. Get into good habits and you will feel good about yourself.
* Decide now: Make a decision to quit now. Become aware of the advantages of quitting as compared with the temporary satisfaction of being in this habit. Never postpone your desire to quit. Dont allow your habits to take control of you; rather you take control of them and decide to quit now.
* Have goals: Goals can give you enthusiasm and energy to overcome addictions. Goals boost you with self-esteem and self-acceptance. Congratulate yourself whenever you achieve something; when you are able to throw away a bad habit, celebrate your victory.
* Take responsibility: You can choose to be good or bad; you can choose to be happy or sad; you can choose to be fit or unfit; you can also choose to be a person of good or bad habit. If you take responsibility for your actions you will groom yourself well.
* Keep good people around you: “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who are.” We are influenced a lot by people who are around us. If those who are with us are addicted to bad habits we too are going to be like them soon. Select your friends, have strong will power and dont become a victim of peer pressure. Be a master of yourself; never allow others to control your life.
* The Rule of 21: Use the rule of 21.Try to avoid a bad habit for 21 days and you are sure to overcome your slavery. Try to do something good for 21 days and it will become part of you even without you knowing it. The Bible tells: “Just as a dog returns to his own vomit so does a fool repeat his own folly under the influence of his habits.” Repeat good deeds and shun bad deeds like the plague.
* Do a good deed a day: Get addicted to doing a good deed a day. Commit yourself to values, true ideals, socially useful activities and these will keep you occupied and happy. When you are busy doing good things for others you have no time for bad habits.
* Get the help of others: We can’t solve our problems alone. We need the help of others especially when faced with bad habits. Solve your problems getting help from professionals if needed. Establish good relationships with parents, partners, relatives and friends. Love and get love from others.
However the best way to stop a bad habit is never to begin it.
The writer is Head HR & IR & Administration, L & T Komatsu Ltd, Bangalore.