The Science of Enjoying our Bad Habits
Have you noticed that most of the bad habits we have are sometimes very enjoyable and come with instant gratification?
Take for example waking up late; We are certain about the consequences of waking up late but we would rather toss and turn inside the warmness of our duvets and enjoy those few minutes of gratification than wake up immediately our alarm goes off. We then wake up few minutes before the engagement time and hurry up getting ready for the day. As much as we understand it is not the first or the last time in that bed, we just can’t help it. Bad Habits!!
Smoking; Take that box and read the warning out loud. Look at that picture of roasted lungs on top of the box and you’ll think of yourself and why you are doing it. Go online and look at the death rates associated with smoking. Two minutes after doing all this you will go ahead and pull a Cancer stick straight from your breast pocket and puff out all the anxiety associated with all those warnings because you want instant gratification and nicotine does just that. Bad Habits!!
Procrastination; You have exactly one week to complete an assignment. Somehow you mind tricks you into believing you will do it after completing season one of a new favorite series. One day down already and you are now in the second season of your series. You are well aware you have an assignment due on Monday but can’t help postpone it. It is now Sunday evening and you sense trouble. You spend most of that night doing shoddy work just to complete it. Bad Habits!!
Drinking; You have just healed from a serious hangover and promise yourself never to drink again. You regret all the poor decisions you made on that Friday night. All that week you walk head down ashamed someone might remind you what you did while drunk. It is Friday again and you receive that call from one of your drinking buddies. Instead of saying a big NO, you convince yourself you will moderate your drinking this time round. You go ahead and join them. It is Saturday morning and the Cycle is the same. Hangover, poor decisions, regrets and a promise never to drink again. Repeat, repeat. Bad Habits!!
Over Spending; You are walking down the street when you notice a very good shoes or handbag. You know too well you have accumulated dozens of those in your random walks in town but this one seems different. You really like it and you feel it will compliment majority of your outfits. You have already pictured yourself in them. You know it is out of budget and it was only yesterday that you bought random stuff out of budget and promised yourself not to do it again. You even went further and wrote a new budget, down sizing your daily spending. You get that shoes and walk away majestically as if you just got the deal of a life time. Deep down you know you should save more and spend less. You go home open your wardrobe toss the new purchase inside there as you admit to yourself that you actually have a bad relationship with money. Bad Habits!
We will always be prisoners of our indulgences if we do not learn from our previous patterns and failures.
How this small things are able to influence big spheres in our lives and end up costing us much more than just money and time is something that will puzzle scientist for long.
Sometimes I think dopamine is the brain’s food and most times, like the stomach, the brain wants instant gratification. Where as bad habits tend to have instant gratification, they tend to come with long bearing consequences of addiction which in turn results in poor mental, physical and spiritual health.
If we train our minds to always seek for longterm gratification in good habits and ignore the short term gratification of pleasure, we will hack the most important spheres of our lives.
Take the example of two people; One chooses the short term gratification of finance by betting, where as the latter chooses the longer gratification by investing and re-investing.
The chances of the former achieving his short term goals are closer to nil. Further more, they might end up broke and depressed after developing the gambling addiction.
On the contrary, the one who chooses the long term route for gratification will as sure as the sun rises enjoy the fruits of his patience years or months later. The pleasure will also last longer creating a sense of motivation to even achieve more.
Re-organise your life to good habits and you will reap the benefits of long term gratification or else your mind would always be duped into getting the raw end of the deal while others who were smart enough to see beyond the instant gratification of bad habits eat with a big spoon.