“Bad habits” and other euphemisms.

“Hi. I am Martijn and I am a smoker.”

At least, that’s how I should introduce myself if I went to a Nicotine Anonymous meeting.

It’s an addiction. Not just a “bad habit”, as I would often call it apologetically.

I quit smoking on Oct. 18 and I haven’t smoked again.  So far. That has been an interesting ride. It’s great to have more energy, air, smell better (in two ways), taste better and so on.

It made me realise anew how deeply ingrained things we call “bad habits” can be. It took me more than six weeks to regain my footing. Not so much because of the withdrawal symptoms. Much more because I also got something out if it: a way for me to organise my thoughts at regular intervals during the day. You step outside to pace, breathe and think, while smoking.

So I had to find a new rhythm. And I did.

There are two important lessons for me in this process:

  1. If you don’t examine your habits regularly, they tend to add up into dysfunctional patterns. Those are much harder to break through than a single habit. In calling it a “bad habit” or <fill in your blank>, there’s also a risk that you give yourself license to perpetuate it.
  2. It’s much easier to break a habit if you design a new one by deconstructing how you most get in your own way with the old one and then find something to replace it with. Otherwise, the void that it leaves will make you miss it and likely, go back to it.

When was the last time you examined your habits?

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