A question I answered on Quora: What’s your personal experience on overcoming a bad habit? How long did it take? What made you decide to change?
Many bad habits I’ve had, I wasn’t aware of as bad habits until they were pointed out to me. A few examples:
- Eating all of the food on my plate even when I was no longer hungry
- Negating and debating with damn near everything a person said
- Eating conventional produce because I was being cheap and ignorant regarding buying organic
These are probably different “bad” habits than what others deal with, but they were habits nonetheless, and habits which I wanted to change.
How I changed: I just did it.
- When I realized that she was right, and that I indeed didn’t need to eat all of my food just because it was on my plate, and that I wasn’t a kid anymore and wouldn’t face parental scrutiny for throwing away unwanted food, I just stopped eating it all (and switched to smaller portions). Why: It was a childhood habit forced upon me that I’d never examined.
- When it was pointed out to me that I had a bad habit of debating with people just to make myself be “right,” I started catching myself before responding to people’s statements and extinguished the habit. Why: It didn’t help my relationships to debate.
- When I made the decision to start eating organic (and also going vegan, for that matter), I was doing the new thing the very next day. Why: Organic tastes better.
Now, you may think this isn’t too helpful and I’m humble-bragging about myself. The fact is, however, when any of us recognizes that we have a habit that is not serving us in a way that we want to be served, there is nothing — NOTHING — forcing us to keep doing it. There is no factual, tangible reason why we have to ease out of a bad habit slowly. There’s nothing stopping you from, metaphorically, getting off the westbound train, and getting on the eastbound train.
People brainwash themselves into believing that it has to be hard; it can’t be that easy.
Fact: It IS that easy; our personal inertia and laziness makes it hard.