If you've already worked today's Sudoku or crossword puzzle, try this brain teaser. See if you can rank from 1 to 5 for each group of the following habits that people say they want to quit:
Are you stumped? OK, it was a trick question. There's actually no correct ranking. It's all relative. (or maybe it's about your relatives!)
Let's face it: We're all creatures of habit. Which is not a bad thing. Our good habits sustain us every day, keeping us safe and allowing us to go on autopilot while accomplishing other things in our lives. It's just those pesky ones that follow us around.
Before you get too stressed out because you see yourself in each section, realize that we're looking at extremes when it comes to bad habits.
A habit is like a cable, according to educator Horace Mann. We weave a strand of it every day until it's extremely hard to break. In the end, our habits become either the best of servants or the worst of masters.
So why is it so hard to change a habit? Logically, we know certain behaviors aren't good for us. There's that old tug, though. Or that craving that hits you and won't let go.
Regular readers may recall earlier columns about the behavioral chart. It's now time for a "booster" shot.
We often attempt to change our circumstances before we change our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. This dooms us to failure.
Every action we take begins with our thoughts. After we think a certain thought (which may have been programmed in our childhoods) over and over, it becomes a deeply ingrained belief. Our beliefs drive our behaviors, and our behaviors result in our circumstances.
It's all part of the pain/pleasure cycle. Most everything we do (consciously or unconsciously) is motivated by a desire to avoid pain or to further pleasure. And it's been shown that we gravitate more toward avoidance of pain.
I remember examining this in a series of Life Design seminars years ago. When a participant would talk about changing something in their lives, the instructor would ask, "What's the payoff for continuing your actions?" At the time I thought that was an odd question since nobody would rationally want to take actions that continue to sabotage them.