How to Overcome Bad Habits and Vices, So You Can Live a Happier Life

    A Guide for Self-Improvement

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    First of all, remember that vices are harmful to your health. That is why, in the course of our lives, we go through times when we choose -mostly unconsciously- bad habits as an escape route to certain problems that are presented to us every day.

    Vices are bad habits that are hard to control and can destroy us if we do not stop them on time. A fully normal habit can become harmful if it controls us, affects our health, or threatens others. A habit like, for example, entering Facebook can become something as harmful as addiction to drugs or alcoholism, and it is difficult to quit.

    This article is a study about the nature of vice and aims with its guidelines to block the subconscious mechanisms that vice uses to dominate your personality.

    Good habits versus bad habits: we make the decision

    Deep down a vice is nothing more than a lack of personal control. A vice is anything you end up doing, even though you do not want to do it. Behind it, there is a mechanism, which prevents us from acquiring control of our personality. The most used example is about quitting smoking because it is the most consulted, but its techniques can be applied to your particular vice.

    How to discover and face the causes that produce vices such as alcoholism, smoking, drugs and more?

    1. Identify the base activity that leads to the vice, replace it, and stop doing it.

    Often, it is not the vice itself that must be controlled, since it is only a consequence. There is an action, a habit that accompanies it and that triggers the vice. Observe what you do before producing the bad habit, and analyze if you can stop doing it. Without an action prior to vice, vice cannot come consequently.

    There is always an action before the vice as such. If you can avoid that action before the vice, then you can leave the bad habit. Think that you precede your vice, and if possible, avoid it. And if you cannot avoid it, then start doing an activity that counteracts that vice.

    1. Avoid situations that cultivate vices.

    Stress, boredom, loneliness, and a lack of occupation are situations that cultivate all kinds of vices and addictions. If you are bored at home, and because of our unconscious nature always seek pleasure, then our nature has no choice but to do something fun, pleasant and generally addictive.

    These vices can arise from very simple situations that have nothing harmful, but by its nature of entertainment can generate an addiction. Let’s talk about a chat like Whatsapp, which is something completely normal. We all need to communicate; but when we cannot, let go and leave responsibilities aside. Then, you are already an addict.

    To avoid loneliness, look for an activity that replaces your leisure time such as a course, a volunteership, or a sport. Clear occupations solve temptations by defining the actions that must be performed during the day. If you are able to plan a series of activities for the day, then you will not have time to idle. Stress is something that should not be allowed to advance and therefore, if possible, play sports or attend yoga classes.

    If it is difficult to be at home and have nowhere to go; then, try going to a library to learn something new. Even if you do not want to go to a library, you can go to any park and refresh your mind. It does not matter that those strangers in the park see that you go every day. It is better to have to be fighting with a vice, alone at home.

    1. Abandon activities that lead to mental associations that induce bad habits.

    A vice starts from an idea that supports it. There are beliefs, paradigms, and also mental impressions that produce that vice; just a thought that reminds you of vice so that you fall into it such as a book, a television program, an object at home, and many things that associate certain thoughts with it.

    Do not let your mind feed on things that cause a bad habit; they gradually transform your thinking and slowly approach you to the bad habit. As soon as you see something that associates with vice, it is better that you immediately abandon that activity and do something else.

    When you see that there is an idea that persists in your mind to please a vice, it is better to stop, suspend all activity, and try to bring your mind to a state free of anxiety, of relaxation. In this way, it is ensured that in your mind there is no trace of that desire, because if that idea keeps being in your mind, then, sooner than later, you can succumb.

    1. Be aware of the habits and mechanicity that prevents you from leaving them.

    When you have been doing something for a long time, you are not aware of it; because that activity has passed into the subconscious and arises spontaneously without you wanting it. For example, if you have the habit of eating your nails and do not need to think about it, you just do it, there are even times that you do not even know you are doing it. Then first identify when it happens, and to the extent that you identify, it will be easier to control.

    This is perhaps the most difficult part, controlling and overcoming a habit like eating nails, which you have been doing since childhood. Surpassing it to the extent of being aware of what is happening, or how it begins to emerge, what are those subtle thoughts that are creating vice. You must learn to identify all the possible situations that cause this habit to arise mechanically, and once you identify them, it will be much easier to control it.

    The best way to control something that arises unconsciously is giving an account of how it arises and then generating another mechanism that replaces it. If you can separate space in the morning, to see the situations in which the vice arises, and then suggest that you will overcome it; then you will be more able to overcome that mechanical force.

    It is like preparing for combat beforehand; if you already know what you are going to face and how then you can achieve victory. Getting used to seeing how a bad desire arises and is setting on, you will be better prepared to suggest yourself mechanisms before they gain negative strength.

    1. Control the impulse towards the immediate satisfaction of pleasure.

    Life can be gray, monotonous, and vice is perhaps the only fun thing that gives us pleasure throughout an existence devoid of emotions and, in many cases, unhappy. Abandoning something that makes you feel momentary pleasure is very difficult. For example, leaving the vice of drinking soft-drinks, something that in many people cause a strong addiction, and we know how harmful soft-drinks are consuming them in excess, like staining the skin and teeth.

    On the other hand, soft-drinks have a strong message associated with happiness, and therefore in moments of anxiety, you can think unconsciously that it is the solution to your problems. In a moment of stress, you cannot help feeling bad, so you might think that you need something that feels good, that saves you from that situation, the mental cycle goes something like this: you are sad- you are unhappy- you need happiness now -nothing like a refreshing can of cold soda- and you need it “Now” -you take it- how delicious it is- you do not know how much you missed it- you must go for another one now -you did it again, and again- it does not matter.

    That false relief, that feeling of pleasure is something that makes it so hard to give up an addiction. You must get used to the idea that this sensation is capable of controlling you, it is like any sensation, hunger, sleep, fatigue, and it is not easy to control because if you do not control it now, in half an hour you feel the desire again. And to more satisfaction, more addiction, and to greater resistance, the harder it is to leave.

    Also, if you approve this vice that controls your personality, then you will have to approve any strange and vicious behavior that sticks to you because it is very easy to acquire strange behaviors one after the other, but it is difficult to leave them. And that is why you must get used to putting up a resistance. Think that you just have to restraint from the bad behavior a few more times. 3 times or 3 days or 3 weeks, and this will be enough to gradually feel less and less that strong feeling again.

    1. How to counteract the feeling of emptiness that remains when leaving a vice.

    Vice consumes a lot of your waking hours. A vice can become something that can steal a whole lot out of our productive lives. When you leave the bad habit, it is like you have free time, and you do not know what to do with so much time. The worst of all is that all the options to do are not as fun as “the vice”.

    You have for example addiction to video games or you are addicted to movies or TV series. You always have to turn on the television, and there you have that world of pleasure. If you do not turn on the television, what do you set out to do? No other thing appeals to you; so, what can you do?

    You must find in what to occupy all that time, but do not replace it with another negative addiction.  Addictions are compensations of pleasure that our body needs, that is to say, that if our life is sad, we are not happy, we feel alone. Then, our body naturally asks us for high doses of pleasure, enjoyment, and that is the reason for the addiction. If we solve many of those internal conflicts, we would not be so addicted.

    Develop activities that give you happiness, that increase your self-esteem, and that contributes a lot to your life. In this way, you gradually improve your psychology, your mood, and you will not depend on vices to be happy.

    Hopefully, you will take the habit of not ending a day without doing something productive or important. In this way, despite the vice, you will advance in your life, and these achievements will serve to counteract the damage of vice. There are many activities that can contribute a lot to your life. You should look at what you like apart from vice, and that can contribute to your well-being.

    For example, practice a martial art, go swimming, ride a bicycle, learn to play a musical instrument, learn to paint, learn magic, learn to make figures with paper, or whatever catches your attention. And takes care of your mind and body in general, thus maintain a balanced healthy lifestyle.

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