Habits And Other Behaviors

habits and other behaviorsHabits and other behaviors or companion behaviors if you will, have a certain interdependence between them that we often overlook. Picking up a habit can also bring a host of new behaviors, both positive and negative, and vice versa if you happen to drop a habit.

Let us say that someone has a bad habit of watching too much television every night when he or she gets home from work. Watching television is the habit but what other behaviors, more than likely negative, could be a result of that habit?

Maybe they snack too much, and since they are so focused on the television, he or she may be more withdrawn and reclusive as the television replaces the connection of a social circle. Possibly another by-product behavior could be that they stay up too late and because of that hardly ever get a good night sleep, and that can impact SO many other behaviors the next day… grumpy, anyone?

Habits And Other Behaviors

Of course that example is couched (no pun intended) in the negative but it is only an example. Recently though, myself, I have changed a life-long habit that has had some interesting side effects mostly in the influence of some of my other behaviors.

This is a positive example of how habits and other behaviors work together or against each other and it is rather neat…

I have always had a bad habit of drinking too many sodas and for most of my adult life it has been pretty bad. Never a coffee drinker but back in the day I had no qualms about waking up and cracking open a Mountain Dew first thing in the morning and most often at night would still be drinking sodas right up until bed time.

Last year I set to change all of that and for the most of last year, I limited myself to only one soda per day, usually a Mexican Coke with real sugar or a Pespi with real sugar. Just one a day and I usually had that one with dinner as sort of my treat for the day.

I had my last soda (two of them) last Thanksgiving; it has been almost three months unbelievably. I have never had this much success giving up sodas before, ever.

After nearly three months without a soda, I am at the point that I really don’t miss them too much. Yes, there are days that are stressful that I crave one but if I just drink more water or have a couple glasses of orange juice so that craving goes away.

But how has changing that habit impacted other behaviors? This is the neat part… last weekend we went on a road trip and on road trips, I often like to indulge in fast food, usually McDonald’s. When I think of having McDonald’s, I think of the trio… fries, a burger, and a coke but without having the coke, the other two parts of the three is just not as appealing anymore… Without having the soda habit, my behavior of also eating fast food is also gone. Talk about a win-win!

Another behavior that has changed… it changed last year when I had reduced my intake but now it is even more noticeable that sodas (and caffeine) are no longer part of the daily routine… I sleep better! I can go to sleep at night and more mornings than not, I wake up early, on my own, before the alarm goes off and for me that is the BEST way to start any day!

Changing or dropping just that one little habit has had a huge impact in my life. This isn’t a sermon on the evils of drinking sodas but rather an example of how habits and other behaviors – especially the not so great ones can and do make a huge difference in life. My habit of drinking sodas is now replaced by the behavior (and now more like a habit) of going to sleep earlier at night and waking up earlier the next morning. The habit of drinking sodas has led to the behavior of choosing to eat more healthy foods and staying away from other things that are not so healthy.

Like I said… pretty neat, huh?

If you are looking to change a habit, or get rid of a bad habit, the best way is to replace that bad habit with a newer better habit. In addition to that, try to look at how that habit influences other behaviors in your day that might not be so positive as well and the overall impact that can have on your life.

The connection between habit and other behaviors is indisputable and if you change one more than likely you are going to see an impact to the others. Her is a bonus… if you are struggling with a certain behavior that you would like to change, look for the habit that precedes that and change that habit instead.

What habits and other behaviors do you practice daily and how do they affect your life? Are there any that you would like to change?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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Photo By Andy Wooten 05 July 2015

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