Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of. ~Proverb [tweet this]
We all have habits, some 'good' that serve us well and some others that are limiting and in many cases – harmful (such as smoking, drinking etc.). Harmful habits are what we call 'bad habits' and desire to get rid of.
I've been using a powerful technique whenever I want to break out of a habit that I don't want to keep. I am going to share with you that technique today and hope that you may find it helpful as well. But first, let me share a 5-step method that many have used and found useful so you can choose what best suites your need and style:
Five Steps Of Eliminating Bad Habits
1. Recognize And Acknowledge The Bad Habit – Make Yourself Accountable
Recognizing the problem is the first step. Then if you tell people around you (only those you love, respect and trust) that you plan to stop a habit you don't like such as, smoking or getting angry on every little thing, it creates a sense of accountability.
If you make yourself accountable, you will feel a social pressure to keep up with your promise. You may also seek their support in doing so and they will, gladly.
2. List Down The Reasons For Changing The Habit
List why you want to get rid of a habit. Visualize your future in your mind; with the habit and without it. Where are you going with this habit and do you want go to that place? List all the reasons and all the bad stuff that happens if you continue with the habit. The more vivid the list, the more powerful it is. The stronger your why is, the more empowered you are to make a change.
3. Find A Substitute For The Habit
If you stop doing that one thing then it can leave a vacuum that requires attention. It's easier to not relapse if you replace that space with a new habit. For example, if you have a habit of watching TV for several hours in the evening, then replace that habit and space with reading more books or joining a club, sport or evening class.
4. Establish A Reward For Progress And Penalty For Slipping
Offer yourself a reward for achieving certain milestones. Plan to reward yourself with something like buying that new piece of clothing or going on that trip when you have successfully avoided the habit for 6 weeks, or something like that.
On the other hand, consider penalty for self if you stray off the plan. For example, you may plan to donate 100 dollars to a charity each day you smoked a cigarette.
5. Change Association And Learn From Those Who Have Gone Before You
Often bad habits are tied to specific environments or situations. Changing them can help change the habit. For example, if you always have a colleague who is your smoking buddy, try going for smoking alone or with someone else at a different time. Associating with those who have overcome the same challenge may also be very beneficial as you can learn from their experience.
Alternate Route – 2-Step Process Of Eliminating A Bad Habit
While all methods described above work and have their own value, here is an ultimate two-step process I found one of the books of Osho. The method is easy to follow and powerful enough to eliminate any bad habit from its root. In the book, Osho teaches how to quit smoking (one of the most difficult habits to quit). Here is how the method works:
Step-1: Become Fully Aware
Without trying to be conscious of your situation, if you try to drop a bad habit, its not possible to truly eliminate it. You may succeed temporarily, but it will come back, because your mind is the same; its needs are the same, its problems are the same, its anxieties, tensions are all the same.
You may have decided again and again, and you have failed again and again – not because the habit is so bad that you cannot get out of it, but because you are trying from the wrong end. You are using techniques to get rid of something that you don't even are fully in control of. It won't work!
Rather than trying to drop the habit, becoming aware of the whole situation, know what caused this habit, how it affects your attitude, how does it make you feel before and after, what impact it has on you physically and emotionally. Write them all down and review it.
Step-2: Watch, Feel And Enjoy The Habit In Complete Awareness – Every Time
Now that you are fully aware of your situation, the next and the most important step is to live the habit in full awareness – witness the phenomena, feel every bit of it consciously.
For example if you are a chain-smoker, Osho says, do not resist smoking. Just change the way you go smoking. Now onwards, smoke meditatively, very religiously. Each time you have the urge to smoke, feel proud, feel great, make it a ceremony. Here is how you may go smoking according to this method:
Go to a pleasant location, then, very slowly take a cigarette out – very slowly, as slowly as you can, because only if you take it very slowly will you be aware. Don't do it in a mechanical way, as you always do. There is no hurry. Feel the beauty and the smell of the cigarette… slowly. Then take the lighter out and slowly lit the cigarette. Now, start smoking very very slowly…
Feel every moment, watch the smoke as it goes out in the air… look at the beauty, watch each of your acts. Divide your acts into small fragments so you can move very slowly.
Osho says, "You will be surprised: by watching your smoking, slowly but surely smoking will become less and less. One day suddenly…it is gone. You have not made any effort to drop it; it has dropped of its own accord, because by becoming aware of a dead pattern, a routine, a mechanical habit, you have created, you have released, a new energy of consciousness in you. Only this energy can help you permanently, nothing else will."
What I have discovered is, the method is not only so with smoking or just the bad habits. I have applied this technique and succeeded at changing some of my habits.
It is the same thing with everything else in life: don't try too hard to change yourself. Love the way you are, become aware of your being, enjoy every moment of your life and you will be amazed how easy it is to control what habits you want to keep and what you want no more.
What do you think of these two methods of breaking bad habits? Which method do you think is more efficient or easy to follow in eliminating bad habits? Please share your thoughts in the comments now.
I fully agree with “Recognize And Acknowledge The Bad Habit – Make Yourself Accountable” because if we are planning to get rid of bad habits and not aware of it- how can we perform it. I think that not possible.
Osho’s thoughts are really helpful for now and forever! I have read so many books of Osho and enjoy the change within myself 🙂 We’ve to recognize bad habits and remove it because sometimes, my own comfortable zone will never tell us what is wrong unless we’ll force to ask them i.e. our friend circle! Most important, our one habit is good for X,. and same habit is wrong f0r Y, why this? I would say- just because of comfortable zone!
Thank You, Mr. Kumar for this wonderfull post. I know this is what- your experiance with all around the world 🙂 and Life.
You are very welcome, Rishabh. Thanks for sharing your views. I admire Osho’s teachings as well. He had a way of thinking differently and often his teachings are very thought provoking.
the word “bad habit” itself is very difficult to understand. if I smoke and if I really enjoy the smoking (by slowly watching it as you said), I dont think its that bad and may even be less harmful. But if I do it just as a habit its bad and harmful. so from my point of view doing something just as a habit is bad.
secondly attaching self to spirituality and a good company may also be a powerful way to curb a habit.
You hit the nail on the head, Mr. Mittal. That is exactly what Osho meant to say. Doing anything just as a habit is bad. Bringing consciousness to the very act brings the control in our hands and perhaps that is why it becomes easier to decide whether or not I want to act or not.
Thank you for sharing your viewpoint.
Chandra, I have to disagree. Smoking is always a bad habit due to its health implications. Anything done to excess is a bad habit.
Wow! I loved the OSHO method. It is completely opposite to the normal thinking.
It talks about self mastery to command our habits rather than we being the salve to them and trying to get rid of our masters (habits). That brings true freedom and as humans, we must have freedom of choice.
Thank you again for another post full of nuggets!!!
Awesome, Mayank. Osho’s method of taking control is indeed very powerful I thought.
I am glad you enjoyed it as well!
Such a great post makes Kumar as “Kumar”!!! Thanks again for such notable post currently approx. 28% (equals 2.4 billion) of population take Tabaco in different form; which getting increase day-by-day; so there is need of huge awareness about this around the world.
In recent years anti-smoking campaigns have been pretty successful in English speaking countries, but still smokes kills people next to “ Yamraj – God of death”.
This is a global threat from a long time across the world, every year billions of dollars spend, the success is trivial. So it can be abolished only if the awareness hit from individual, family, society, villages, city country and continent.
The goal is smoke free world; the hindrance is below line:
“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times. “
I would like to add below saying from Osha
“Whenever you drop something by fight, it is never dropped. You can drop smoking by fighting, and then you will start doing something else which will become a substitute. You may start chewing gum, it is the same; You may start chewing pan, it is the same, there is no difference. You need something to do with your mouth — smoking, chewing, anything. When your mouth goes on working, you feel at ease because through the mouth tensions are released. So whenever a man feels tense he starts smoking.”
Awesome commentary, Ranjan ji! Thanks for sharing the final touch with Osho’s additional inputs about quitting the habit of smoking. So true…. people leave one thing and latch on to another…. it is a vicious cycle that only can be broken if we are master of our choices.
When I read this post, I thought about eliminating distraction and increasing
productivity. Even those are the bad habits because so many of us are robbed of our productivity and time because
of these usual bad habits(browsing internet when not needed, watching TV an wasting time etc).
In a way, we are enslaved by our bad habits and I see your point. Self mastery is very important here. A burning desire can help too along with awareness.
Thank you Michael. I agree with you on this. It’s all about freedom from the habits and get control of our lives.
We recognize some bad habit in us but some how we are not able to eliminate it. I think that this topic had lot more to dicuss as such in todays world it has become a come habit in all.
Some people smoke when they are in some pressure or tensions where as others do it for fun. This doesnt make any sense. If I was to be in any kind of tensions or pressure i would prefer going out in garden for refreshing my mind I would never smoke.
This is how you bring in a change in you.
That is so absolutely right. It’s about making a conscious decision and taking responsibility to act in certain manner.
Being human beings, we all need different approaches to solve the exact same problem though and it’s a fascinating subject.
And I agree with you, this topic can be very long and we can take even deeper dive if we choose to.
Great resourceful post. Thank you Kumar for such informative post. Bad habits are definitely like comfortable bed. Easy to get on and difficult to get off.
You are spot on with your 5 steps to getting rid of those bad habits. The Carrot/Stick (Penalty/award) is also a great addition. Once you force yourself to keep it up for 30 or so days it really begins to become a true habit. Only those first days are tough ones.
Hello SJ, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 30 days idea is a good one as well.
Good to know this information, I found it useful to eliminate bad habits easily.And also I wold like to share to you that hypnotherapy is really helpful alternative way to eliminate those bad habits that you have now.
Hello. Have you ever tried to quit smoking? It is easy. not easy at all? In my opinion, quitting smoking is not easy because you have not chosen the right way. Believe me. So the tip is you must choose the right way and follow it definitely.
Interesting about substituting your habit with something else. I’m a hypnotherapist and I always get my stop smoking clients to try and find a positive habit to replace their bad habit with. A great example would be exercising or walking more. When I don’t give this suggestion it isn’t unusual for a client to replace one bad habit with another such as eating too much.
Thanks for this article ! I specially appreciate what you say on setting a reward system, it really helps improving motivation.
Stop smoking might be a special case, or not, depending on the anxiety level of someone. You see, some habits are just habits : a simple routine anchored by repetition. However, some habits really hide something deeper : they are a way of coping with stress, different sorts of anxiety, like not knowing what to do with oneself, …
I have often found that smoking is linked to a positive emotionnal outcome : feeling encouraged, accompanied, powerful, meaningful even, etc… So it is important, when quitting this habit, to know what you do it for, what are your values behind stopping.
It is always easier to change when to change to become who you wants to be.
Hello Kumar Gauraw
I love the way you explain to terminate bad habits. I am a chain smoker. Several time I tried to give up this bad habit, but I couldn’t. Because every time I tried, my willpower wasn’t strong enough. I think willpower is the main key to give up any bad habits.
Humans should have a mindful control over there acts. So we must know whats bad for us and how to quit those things which are bad for us. I have tried to provide remedy for one such habit; Smoking. Please have a look 🙂
What a marvellous article – both useful and beautiful in it’s way. Best of all though I love the proverb – Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of – quite profound!
Hi Gauraw, Nice article thanks for sharing this article. You give the nice information about Eliminating bad habits. Your five steps of eliminating bad habits are marvelous.
I think the best way to stop smoking is using Electronic Cigarettes, I use to smoke 20 traditional cigarettes a day and now through using my E-cig I have almost kicked the horrible habit, its working for me!
Hy Gauraw very nice topic.Its not so easy to eliminate bad habits.you ugget very good and powerful ways to eliminate bad habits easily..thanx for this sharing.
Yes it is not easy to eliminate the bad habit one’s you started it. But if you have any alternative it might help. Such as smoking the alternative for it is e-cigarette.