We’re all guilty of bad habits. Eating chocolate, drinking wine after work, biting nails, skipping showers, reclining on the couch for hours, etc. — are some of the everyday habits that bite our conscience.
These habits might be bad, of course. But how did we decide that these habits are harmful to us?
Perhaps our parents taught us, or our elders, friends, or partners told us so.
But have we ever questioned its authenticity or took time to learn if they were actually bad? No
Since everyone around us belittled us for these habits or corrected us, we considered these habits harmful. As a result of this (wrong) belief system, we felt guilty every time despite the pleasure we sought.
Just because someone doesn’t like our habit doesn’t mean they’re bad (for them or us). Likewise, here’re some of the healthiest habits that people think are terrible. But they’re not because science backs them.
I. Expressing Anger/Dissatisfaction Upfront
You’re on the highway, and someone tailgates you and honks you incessantly. You get annoyed, start whining about it, hurl a few cuss words, and then the chapter is over (after some time). Everyone in the car thinks it’s terrible and starts pacifying you by saying, “getting angry is toxic for your health. It’s going to harm only you.”
Okay, getting angry might be harmful. But have you ever asked how it is toxic to release emotions? What’s the other way to express feelings?
If you do, no one will answer because no one knows the answer.
From childhood, we have been taught that when we complain or whine about anything, people perceive us as “cry-baby or a complaining rat.” So, just to be accepted by society, we suppressed our anger, concerns, and complaints — causing more harm to our mental health.
Psychologist James Pennebaker conducted a study to conclude that,
“People who suppress their negative emotions or feelings have worse physical health than the people who vent out their frustration.”
If you can transform your negative feelings into positive ones, it’s acceptable to consider “complaining” as a toxic habit. But if you feel lightheaded after ranting about climate change or oily french fries, go for it. But make sure that you’re not hurting anyone. Your complaining must drive a healthy/positive change.
Tina Gilbertson, psychotherapist and the author of “Constructive Wallowing,” says:
“We’re worst at expressing our feelings, so it’s pretty common to use complaining mode to express a feeling. When you share your emotions (in any form) with someone, it becomes a vehicle for bonding.”
So, when we complain, we’re rubbishing the unrealistic expectation that we must always be happy. No one can be happy always— let’s be realistic!
II. Spreading Clutter All-Around
I always had this OCD for cleanliness. I couldn’t accept any litter in the house. Everything had to be at its place. Spotless. I always ensured that the trash cans were emptied on time, kitchen towels were arranged, dirty dishes were stacked in the dishwasher, laundry was folded, shoes were perfectly placed in the rack, etc.
I knew it was my problem. Not anyone else’s. So, I never judged anyone for being messy. I understand that being messy is a part of their personality that governs their actions. I never correlated tidiness with discipline. However, many of us think clutter is a sign of being irresponsible. Being messy is not bad at all if it doesn’t bother you. Being messy and having clutter has its own benefits.
Stephen Pretlove, Ph.D., of Kingston University’s School of Architecture says,
“Leaving a bed unmade during the day removes moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die. So, failing sometimes to make your bed in the morning may actually help keep you healthy.”
Being messy or clean is a part of your personality. And no personality types are wrong because they hold some strong belief systems that force them to be the way they are. Just because someone doesn’t like your littering habit doesn’t mean it’s bad.
According to one 2013 study published in Psychological Science, a messy environment encourages out-of-the-box thinking. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires in that study — some sitting in a clean, orderly office while others in a cluttered Staples office. They were then asked to think of some innovative uses of a Ping-Pong ball. Those in a messy room environment came up with many, many more fresh ideas.
In the same study, participants in each room were asked to choose a vitamin “boost” for their smoothie. Some of the boosts were labeled ‘new’ and others ‘classic.’ Most of the neat-room people chose the health boost labeled “classic,” while people in the messy room opted for the boost labeled ‘new.’ The researchers concluded that,
“Disorganized environments encourages out-of-the-box thinking and sometimes fun, fresh decisions, as well.”
Just as “excessive of anything is harmful,” so, too, is clutter — especially if you share your living space with someone who may have their own personal preferences. So, try to find midway by looking at the big picture rather than being too clean or too cluttered.
III. Daydreaming And Fantasizing
For generations, daydreaming is considered toxic. Our elders always bugged us, “get out of the fantasyland and pay attention to your studies.”
People often think that building castles in the air is wasting time. Killing the precious present. Daydreaming means a subtle way of procrastinating and is often attributed to laziness, inattentiveness, and irresponsibility. Based on this mentality, we often prevent others and ourselves from daydreaming. But we must stop doing this.
Fantasizing or “thinking for pleasure” is actually conducive to your health and future. How?
“Various areas of the brain involving complex problem-solving abilities become active by daydreaming as compared to regular tasks. This proved that when an individual uses conscious thought, they can be too rigid and solution-less. On the contrary, daydreaming helps you enter a cognitive state to shift your focus from immediate tasks to other significant problems of life like finances, comforts, bodily pleasures, etc
If you look at it from an unbiased perspective, you’ll find that daydreaming is about imagination. And imagination often opens many doors of possibilities like creativity and innovation.
Also, imagination plays a major part in manifesting your desires into reality. So, daydreaming might not help you achieve your immediate goals, but it enables you to address bigger concerns like your purpose in life, relationships, career goals, etc.
Also, daydreaming can often act as a reminder for your concurrent goals. So, the next time someone nags you to stop fantasizing, help them correct their belief system.
When it comes to building healthy habits, we never consider the habits that we already possess. Also, we always think of healthy habits as those which improve our productivity. We never really consider adopting or checking our practices that affect our mental health or overall wellbeing.
That’s why it’s imperative to analyze the above-mentioned healthy habits, which we think are unhealthy.
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