I read of many people able to stick to good habits and dismiss bad habits. Or they say so, at least. I’m impressed. It would be great if I had the same commitment. You can read of people who scientifically track their good habits, with impressive sequences of daily check-ins. Maybe I’ll try too, one day, but I know I’m not good at it.
I often watch TV series at dinner and my wife is not particularly happy with that. A bad habit, for a lot of reasons. I’m not especially satisfied with my life. When the day finishes, I need my daily hour of distraction. But that’s not an excuse. It’s a bad habit. Period. And I have many more of them.
Bad habits steal your energy, your time, your health, your money. Irritate people. Sometimes push away the loved ones. There are plenty of reasons to abandon every single bad habit. One of the most important reasons is that bad habits, minor ones included, control us. We stack excuses and justifications around them, but the truth is that we can’t do without.
What prevents us from abandoning them?
Lack of will. All other reasons are excuses. The momentary comfort does not compensate for the long-term disadvantages or damages. It’s plainly obvious.
Let’s assume that I abandon all my bad habits. It would be a great result, but a huge effort too. I could make small concrete steps, being helped, build momentum around good habits, and support sacrifice, and so on. There is plenty of coaching on that, everywhere. I can, maybe, dilute the effort, and make the magic happen someway. But the magic has always a price, as they say in Once Upon a Time.
I should definitely put my effort into abandoning some of my bad habits. I’m trying. But it’s too much effort to abandon them all, and some of them require extra effort. I need energy for other things, in my day. I have many goals in my list, and want to focus on what gives my life a meaning. If removing all that is bad from my life is at the cost of lack of energy for other important, positive things, that’s not what I want. I don’t want to be a useless man who lives healthy a hundred years. I have things I want to do and I need most of my energies for them.
Our unconscious knows some of us. It’s lazy, but collects a lot of our needs. A lot of our weaknesses. We can work on them. It’s a long work, and it should be done. In the meanwhile, when the unconscious says “beer!” maybe we can please it, if it doesn’t ask too often. That’s our way of recovering and recharging the batteries for the battles we are fighting now. If you’re a hero, hat off to you. If you’re not, select your battles and accept some small ungrateful allies.
We are not all the same. Different strengths, different weaknesses. Our unique mix is a compromise, because we have limits, but is also special. Sometimes, our weaknesses become bad habits. We must pay attention to them, but also focus on the good part of us. We should improve, not flatten ourselves.
Our life needs diversity. Holiness is great, but it’s not for all. I used to watch too much TV when I was a child (seems it’s not too much different, nowadays…). However, I’m an engineer. I’ve not become a lazy pop-corn eater (or, well, I eat pop-corns — a lot! — but it’s not my job). A lot of my curiosity, and my skills, grew by watching TV. Really.
We should take our bad habits seriously and try to understand their causes. We need to change. No excuses. There are no positive alternatives. We have to be critical with ourselves and listen to feedback about our defects. But I’m going to keep some of my bad habits and I’m not ashamed of them. We have to love ourselves in full.
In the search for purity, don’t kill the best of you.