Creatures of Habit—The Practical Side

We are the sum of our habits. Good habits, bad habits and ordinary habits make us who we are. Moreover, our habits shape our bodies and minds and even determine our futures. We are creatures of habit. But, we are also the authors of our habits. We get to write the stories of our lives, and much of the story is born out of what we do and do not do each day, week, month and year.

First, I would like to address bad habits. There are bad habits, and then there are addictions. I will spend some time later talking about bad habits and how to change them. That being said, the most dangerous habits that negatively impact our physical, mental and emotional health are not just “habits,” but addictions. An addiction is defined as the inability to abstain from a behavior that interferes with a person’s ability to fulfill their life roles (partner, worker, parent, etc.) and negatively impacts their mental/emotional and physical health. A person can be addicted to anything—not just drugs and alcohol. People are addicted to gambling, food, sex, the internet, shopping, television—the list is endless. If you are struggling with any sort of addiction that interferes with your daily life, a licensed mental health counselor can help. Realizing you have a problem and calling an experienced therapist is the first step. Please don’t wait!

The opposite of bad habits are good habits, of course. Good habits are obvious—things like exercising, meditating, journaling, cooking healthy meals and spending regular time with friends. Good habits are the parts of your day that shine the brightest and make you feel good.

Finally, there are what I call “in between habits” or “ordinary habits.” These are the things you do every day that are not bad, but also could be better. Some of them you probably even do mindlessly—hence why they are called habits. It is amazing how once we do something for a few weeks, it often becomes a habit–whether we planned on it becoming one or not. For example, maybe you turn on the TV every night after dinner. This is not a bad habit, per se (I watch a little TV almost every night, too). However, what would it be like to read for 15 or 20 minutes each night before watching TV. Or, maybe you are eating sugary cereal for dessert each night because you feel it is “better than” having dessert (less calories).  But, what would it be like if you had no sugary cereal and ate a real dessert once a week. Or maybe you could swap out a little dark chocolate (which is better for you) than the cereal each night?

Do you get the gist of what I am saying? I will talk more about transforming ordinary habits into good ones later, but for now I just want to challenge you to really look at how you spend your hours, days and weeks. What are you doing and eating, where are you going, who are you seeing, and how are you spending your money? These are some things to think about. Also, is there anything you are doing you wish you were not; AND is there something you would like to do, but haven’t found a way to yet?

I hope you will be mindful about your habits over the next several days. And in the personal piece on this topic, I will share a little of my journey to start new, good habits. If you are struggling with addiction, changing a habit or any other mental health issue, a trained and licensed Orlando psychotherapist can help you on the road to recovery. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment. 


Yolanda Brailey