What Is the Difference between a Good and a Bad Habit

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We do not have to label habits good or bad. Just accept them for what they are. Most people are well aware what any particular habit does to them or for them. In many cases we can become good at habits, but can eventually feel bad about them. They make us feel either better or worse than the person we want to be. Perhaps the difference between a good and a bad habit for each person is whether they want to go on doing it.

A 'bad' habit, such as feeling stressed, might not in itself necessarily be bad. The first time we feel stressed, it might not make us feel bad or be very bad for us at all. But then, if the stressful feeling becomes ingrained as a habit, our brain acts as though it is still the best way for us to behave, and we go on doing it.

Take procrastinating, the art of putting things off. It is something that many people with habits do - in other words, they postpone trying to break them. People who procrastinate often spend so much time planning to put things off that they fail to realize how much better they would feel if they just did them and got them out of the way.

Your first challenge will be to stop deferring action and beginning to take some.

When the basketball player Michael Jordan was asked to throw the ball and miss the basket in an American TV commercial, he couldn't do it. The film crew had to do about 20 takes before they got the shot they wanted. Why? For so long had Jordan practised the good habit of getting the ball into the net, he found it impossible to miss deliberately. The behaviour of scoring successfully had become hard-wired in his brain.

Bad habits could be regarded as those we want to be rid of. They are bad because, even though we might feel great while engaging in them, afterwards we feel terrible. They are bad because we no longer want to have them in our lives, and it makes us sad to believe we always will. Part of this belief stems from how we acquire the habits in the first place, and how we have dealt with them over time.

How We Acquire Habits

So, a habit is a behaviour repeated so often we can practise it without thinking. In other words, it is a type of self-conditioning. People are conditioning themselves all the time. Anyone who has worked in an office will be familiar with the regular discussions revolving around what to eat, what not to eat, what was or wasn't eaten for breakfast and how much should or should not have been eaten or drunk the night before. And so it goes on. People sit around in front of computers every day and condition themselves and each other into putting on weight.

We condition ourselves throughout our lives - and advertisers in particular take huge advantage of this: 'A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play'; 'Have a break, have a Kitkat.' 'Carlsberg, probably the best lager in the world.' Beans means what? Heinz? Do they really?

We are also influenced to think in certain ways, to link certain behaviours with particular times and places (a coffee and a cigarette; tea and biscuits), and habits develop

The way to change the world is to change your attitude towards it, not just once, but all the time.

Attitude is the mind's paintbrush, it can colour any situation.

because we have conditioned ourselves into adopting and practising these behaviours. They are comforting, and the behaviours come to feel like part of us. Because the idea of change has failed to take hold in the past, we condition ourselves into believing that it never can.

When asked why they cannot give up their habits, most people we have worked with say it is because they have had them for so long. Well, does that mean they are doomed to have them for ever? We develop habits through practice and repetition, so imagining life without them can seem difficult.

What if we can change the way we think about our attitudes towards our behaviour, as well as the behaviour itself? Elite athletes, drug addicts and overeaters have more in common in terms of how they think than at first appears. Whereas the athlete will ask herself: 'What can I do today that will make my performance better for tomorrow?', the drug addict might ask: 'Where will I get my fix today?' and the overeater might say: 'What sugary, fattening, comforting foods can I eat today?' All of these people are highly motivated, but their motivation takes them in widely varying directions.

The athlete believes she can always get better, and makes the necessary changes to her diet or training programme. The overeater or drug addict hold no such self-belief, and so behave as though they will either always be fat or always be an addict. Each feels so hooked on his habit that even the desire to change is not enough. But whether we are aware of it or not, we can take ourselves in whatever direction we want to go.

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101 Tips for Avoiding Procrastination

101 Tips for Avoiding Procrastination

See how easily you can eliminate procrastination and take back control of your life. Who Else Wants To Stop Being A Slave To Procrastination? Are you ready to start ramming your head into the wall as a punishment for repeated procrastination? No matter what you do, what you promise yourself, you never seem to be able to get your work, chores, or projects done. It can happen to the best of us and it's a hard habit to break.

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