Breaking Bad Habits and Building Better Ones

Habits, both good and bad, are hard to break. I have learned how to break bad habits and form new good habits effectively these past couple months. I have finally quit vaping and have incorporated yoga and meditation into my daily routine. Such a feat can seem overwhelming, but I actually found it to be relatively pain free. How can this be?

I have tried quitting smoking (when I smoked cigarettes) and vaping more times than I can count. Full disclosure, it is still a challenge even as I am writing this. Years of using nicotine rewires you brain to become very dependent upon it. Just thinking about vaping can illicit a powerful craving within me. The key to my successful cessation this time lies in what I did before quitting. Instead of setting out to rid my life of a toxic bad habit, like so many people have done for New Year’s resolutions, I decided to first ADD something into my life. I decided to actually give mediation a fair shot.

Dedicating time to a daily meditation routine, in addition to some exercise every day, gave me undeniable positive results. Let me say, I was not a “good” meditator initially. It’s hard for me to sit still for 20 minutes and almost impossible to quite the storm in my head. However, as with most things, time, practice, and dedication produced results. I found myself becoming more mindful in my day to day life. I was able to deal with stress differently and show myself compassion and appreciation for taking the time to do these thing every day. Now, my meditation and yoga/exercise habits are fully established. It is hard for me to “skip” a day, because I have turned it in to a positive habit in my life.

Now I was ready to break my old nemesis and cut ties with nicotine. The compounding benefits of meditation and exercise enable me to be mindful of cravings once I stopped; to label them as mere craving and let them go. During my journey into meditation, I read several books on mindfulness and Buddhist teachings. I am now able to observe my thoughts without getting to attached (most of the time), and find solace in the knowledge that I am not my thoughts and that everything changes.

There is something very empowering and comforting in being able to say to myself that “this is just a craving. It will pass. I am growing.” Also, knowing that the craving and discomfort of no longer vaping would pass was very helpful too. These are things I had hear before but never gave much confidence too. However, in a mindful lifestyle imbued with meditation and self appraisal, I have learned how my thoughts can be so very powerful and also very insignificant. It sounds like an oxymoron, but I’m not nearly as eloquent as a Buddhist monk.

What I can say, is that I have never regretted taking time to meditate. I always feel better to some degree after taking this time to slow down and at the very least I am never worse off for doing so. Exercise is another great mood boosting habit. If you are having a hard time breaking a bad habit, I would highly recommend by starting with adding good habits into your life first. Building these habits gave me an increased sense or self-worth and appreciation for the time and energy I spend doing things. It will help put into perspective the true nature of bad habits working against you.

I have started to pick new good habits to add to my life. These habits include: drinking water first thing in the morning, drinking tea before bead, and stopping eating food for the day after dinner. I enjoy the journey of adding new good habits into my life now, because I know that on the other side of the initial struggle to establish these things in my life is a level of satisfaction and reward that continues to pay off.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">What do you want to make a new habit in your life? Have you had similar success in breaking bad habits? What works (doesn't work) for you?What do you want to make a new habit in your life? Have you had similar success in breaking bad habits? What works (doesn’t work) for you?

Nic Fit

I have found a way to live life without alcohol, and at certain times I have been able to quite smoking/e-cigs/vaping for extended periods of time. However, nicotine has been my adversary long before alcohol became a problem in my life. I remember coming into AA for the first time ready to change, and found I leaned on my old crutch nicotine a little harder those days. E-cigs led to full fledged vaping for a few years. When I brought it up to my sponsors, I got an “easy does it,” or “one thing at a time,” response. Most recently  I went back to e-cigs, and once again I am trying to get off this shit. I ask myself why the hell this is so hard?

I guess I am just prone to addictive behavior. See, I know nicotine addiction is one of the hardest dependencies to break. Just because I have quit before, though painfully each time, gives me a false sense of control over it. How do I know? I always, always wind up going back to it. If I am drinking, well I have no rational thought against it. If I am not drinking, I justify it by telling myself “at least it’s not alcohol.” Why the hell is there no 12 step program (that I have heard of) for nicotine?

Society has “dealt” with the issue by keeping smoking out of public spaces and raising the legal age to buy nicotine products; no small feat or gesture, but still it is EVERYWHERE. The difference between alcohol and nicotine glaring. Unless you are an alcoholic, normal people can enjoy alcohol in moderation. No body grabs a pack of smokes just for Christmas or buys an expensive vape and vape juice just to enjoy once it on the weekends. Nicotine doesn’t work that way.

I am so disgusted with my own inability to stay quit. When I was in my first or second year of community college, I wrote a paper on banning tobacco all together. This was before the days of vaping and e-cigarettes. My paper was published in volume 4 of COD’s scholarly journal ESSAI. I wrote it and gathered research on tobacco and nicotine as a means of motivating myself to stay quit. It was a very well research and supported persuasive piece. Nevertheless, I was back smoking before it was published; which all but sucked all the joy out of attending the publication ceremony. ESSAI is on its 16th volume now, and there have been no other tobacco related articles written.

I have to do something different this time, obviously. And since the only difference now is my support and reliance on a higher power, that is where I will have to find strength and motivation. Here’s hoping this is the last time I have to go through this.