“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” – Benjamin Franklin (Taylor, 2022)
It’s been said that your habits become/define your lifestyle. Our lifestyle determines how we function in and contribute to the world around us, so having good habits to fuel the lifestyle that you want is key to being successful. Along with cultivating good habits, though, you would do well to weed out the bad ones. There are plenty of resources that talk about building good habits and breaking bad ones, but we don’t seem to talk enough about preventing bad habits before they have time to form.
In a recent sermon, Pastor Dave Hart (Wisconsin) made this comment: “Even the smallest of behaviors [habits] can become a lifestyle.” Whether we fully realize it or not, behaviors and mentalities are the building blocks of our lifestyle. We exhibit different behavioral patterns in our day-to-day life, and those patterns become habits that form our lifestyle. While many of these patterns are positive (as we’re taught to behave well), there can also be small, negative elements that actually sabotage our lifestyle goals.
“Small, bad behaviors when piled up can have a negative impact in the long run. Your bad habits can create a dent in your productivity. … Bad habits are magnets that pull you away from your goals. They slow down your growth” (Ramos, 2017).
“Bad habits interrupt your life and prevent you from accomplishing your goals. They jeopardize your health – both mentally and physically. And they waste your time and energy” (Clear, 2022).
Here’s the tricky bit: not all bad habits are obvious. Sometimes we must be able to recognize minor behaviors for what they are: bad habits in the making! If you tend to be a more pessimistic person who rolls your eyes even when something good seems to be happening, you may discover that you’ve developed a lifestyle of negative attitudes toward most things. The repetition of a small eye roll has become a habit that impacts your mood. In contrast, if you make the choice to look for the good (or blessing) of any given situation, you can develop a lifestyle of thankfulness. The repetition of consistently looking for good (even in the bad) instills a habit of choosing positivity, which in turn impacts your overall lifestyle.
If you make a (bad) habit of skipping self-care in order to get more work done, you’ll soon discover that you’ve developed a lifestyle of putting your career first. You may not think too long about what you look like or if you’ve gotten enough sleep in the past week (because you finished an additional project!), but mental and physical fatigue will catch up with you and will impact the quality and efficiency of your work. And if your work suddenly comes to an end, you’ll find yourself left with a pile of bad habits that won’t guide you forward to the next job.
I’d think that most people would agree that they want a healthy lifestyle. A full, healthy lifestyle includes choices that impact all areas of your well-being: physical, mental, and emotional. The habits you create in taking care of your body can impact how you view and feel about yourself. Each habit may have a small or large link to another, so we cannot view habits as isolated. Mentally healthy means “you are in a state of wellbeing where you feel good and function well in the world” (Good mental health, 2021). “Emotionally healthy means you are in control of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; you’re able to cope with life’s challenges, can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks” (Mental Health: Keeping Your Emotional Health, 2020). One bad habit (such as ‘treating’ yourself to ice cream every night, for example) may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back of your healthy lifestyle goal.
“In a nutshell, your health, wealth, happiness, fitness, and success depend on your habits.” -Joanna Jast (developgoodhabits.com)
“If your habits don’t line up with your dream, then you either need to change your habits or change your dream.” – John Maxwell
Clear, J. (2022). How to Break a Bad Habit and Replace It With a Good One. Retrieved from James Clear: https://jamesclear.com/how-to-break-a-bad-habit#:~:text=Bad%20habits%20interrupt%20your%20life,waste%20your%20time%20and%20energy.
Good mental health. (2021, March). Retrieved from Health Direct: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/good-mental-health
Mental Health: Keeping Your Emotional Health. (2020, June 23). Retrieved from Family Doctor: https://familydoctor.org/mental-health-keeping-your-emotional-health
Ramos, K. (2017, October 9). Your Bad Habits are Hurting Your Progress: Here's Wha Science Says on How to Break Them. Retrieved from Mission : https://medium.com/the-mission/your-bad-habits-are-hurting-your-progress-heres-what-science-says-on-how-to-break-them-3c9fc1853b48
Taylor, J. (2022). 20 Quotes to Inspire you to Change Habits. Retrieved from Habits for Well Being: https://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/20-quotes-to-inspire-you-to-change-habits/
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