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How to break bad habits

Dr. Henry L. Yu writes a story about kicking a bad habits in the book, “Didache Daily Bible Reflections For Catholics.”  Here’s the story: “My 49-year-old patient who has been a smoker since his college days came to see me one day to ask me about how to stop smoking. After two weeks, he came back telling me, ‘It’s so hard to kick the habit, doc, so I just cut down my usual consumption to half.’

“If you are really bent on kicking the habit of smoking, you have to do it “on lump sum” and not on “installment basis.” You need to go all the way and give it up completely.”

Dr. Yu exclaimed, God is giving us enough time and chances  to right our wrong. So let us make use of this time to change our ways. The earlier we do it, the better. Let’s not wait till tomorrow, for tomorrow may not come. There’s no other time. Now is the time. Act now before it’s too late.”

When my late  father’s doctor advised him to quit smoking, he immediately heeded his advice. Although, it was difficult for him to stop his habit of smoking, he did it for the sake of his health and well-being.

When I was working my doctoral degree, I had a professor who was a chain smoker. Everytime I remind him of the ill-effects of smoking, he would often tell me, “If I smoke I will die . If I don’t smoke, I will still die. It’s the same die.”  Sadly, he passed away due to lung cancer.

According to James Clear on his website,  “bad habits interrupt your life and prevent you from accomplishing your goals. They jeopardize your health both mentally and physically. And they waste your time and energy. Most of the time, bad  habits are simple ways of dealing with stress and boredom. In other words, bad habits address certain needs in your life. And for that reason, it’s better to replace your bad habits with a healthier behavior.”

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Here are some ways on how to kick bad habits and replace them with healthier ones, as pointed out by  Clear:

Choose a substitute for your bad habit.  What are you going to do when you get the urge to smoke? Example: breathing exercises, instead.

Cut out as many triggers as possible. If you smoke and drink, then don’t go to the bar. If the first thing you do when you sit  on the couch is pick up the TV remote, then hide the remote in a closet in a different room.  Make it easier on yourself to break bad habits by avoiding the things that cause them.

Visualize yourself succeeding. See yourself throwing away the cigarettes or buying health food, or waking up early. Whatever the bad habit  that you are looking to break, visualize crushing it, smiling, and enjoying your success.

You don’t need to be someone else, you just need to return to the old you. So often we think that to break our bad habits, we need to become an entirely new person. The truth is that you already have it in you to be someone without your bad habits. You just need to return to your being you;  being non-smoker and be a healthy person. Or whatever bad habit you are going to break.

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