So often I think that people get to a point in their lives when they just say, “To Hell with it. I’m going to eat what I want, drink what I want, and do (or not do) what I want.” In my opinion, to accept where we are with no vision for where we could be if we put forth effort is a tragedy. As we get older it’s really easy to fall into the trap of just saying “to Hell with it” and just give up, as if nothing really matters. So much of this has to do with changing our habits.
Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to acquire a bad habit, but so hard to acquire a positive one? When it comes to bad habits, even those that take some work, we’ll go through the pain and discomfort in order to reach our goal. Two examples come to mind. Think about the first time someone smokes a cigarette; it burns the throat and eyes and it makes you cough. Your body is saying, “What the hell are you doing to me?” Nonetheless, the soon-to-be smoker will go through this over and over again until the coughing and burning stop, and all the person feels is the high that nicotine gives. Bearing in mind all the information out there that says smoking is bad and will kill you, people still smoke.
Then there is alcohol. If you can remember your first drink, you probably didn’t think “Wow, that was refreshing.” Normally, there’s a burning of the throat, a gasp for air, and a grimace on the face as once again, your body says, “What the hell are you doing to me?” But that doesn’t stop most people; they continue on until the side effects go away, and what they are left with is the feeling that drinking alcohol provides. Many of us do this with a full understanding that the next day you might feel bad, as your body tries to recover from poison, and we continue to drink and defend this habit.
So why is it that when it comes to changing one’s eating habits, to drinking more water, or being more purposeful about exercise, most people don’t want to deal with the discomfort they may experience? They fight these changes despite knowing that the outcome will be to feel better, move better, and have more energy.
If we looked at this all through a window, I think most of us would agree that this doesn’t make sense. Unfortunately, many things in life don’t make sense, but one thing for certain is true: it’s that if we are motivated by the outcome of something, we will work though the pain to get there.
So maybe with lifestyle change, we need to start with understanding that our outcome of healthful living is far better than the short-term gratification that we get from some of our other vices. Since pain and discomfort are inevitable in both cases, it come down to the difference between the short-term pain of starting a bad habit that comes with the long-term pain of what happens after years of these habits versus the discomfort we feel from doing without the sugary treats that we are sure that we need and from starting and sticking with an exercise program. In my opinion, with the changes of the latter, the end result far outweighs the initial discomfort.
Don’t give up on having a great life. Try adopting habits that will give you long-term gratification; ones that that will give you the energy and stamina that you will need to live life to its fullest.
If you need help with some habit exchanges, please ask for help. Don’t try to do it on your own. Sometimes it takes a village—and that’s OK.