Living in a border town with all the news of the drug trade continuously brought me recently to think of habits. The senseless killings and lives destroyed stem from the demand of drug usage in the U.S. As a volunteer at a local Drug Abuse Center I have attended many drug and alcohol abuse meetings. Listening to the stories I hear of lives ruined due to the drug habit. Drugs and alcohol are bad habits as the regular use of a substance ruins the life experience of the user. Smoking cigarettes is another bad habit. I had an older brother who died of lung cancer due to a life habit of smoking. It has been good to see in American society fewer people smoking. Those who do should observe someone dying of lung cancer so they can rethink that habit.
Dr. William Glasser points out these habits come about through people’s wrong choices in searching for happiness. Their choice of drugs for happiness does provide initial good feelings but but in the long term in the stories I have experienced their choice of drug and alcohol habits leads to misery. Dr. Glasser in his book Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom states, “ If we can not create a society in which more people are happy, we will never come close to reducing these destructive and self-destructive choices,” (referring to drugs and alcohol).
Knowing the personal ruin caused by drugs and seeing in the news the thousands killed in the drug wars in Mexico upsets me when I see how Hollywood and some rock, pop, and hip-hop musicians glamorize drugs to youth. The lack of critical thinking in those who want something that destroys people legalized is sickening. In my eyes those who glamorize drugs and want them legal have the blood of the thousands of Mexicans and the thousands of ruined lives here in the U.S. on their hands. If only the media would place this truth in the face of those promoting drugs so people would stop using drugs. Then there would be no demand for drugs therefore no drug war. The drug cartels would effectively be out of business.
In the meantime what can be done to better create a society Dr. Glasser is speaking of in the previous quote? Positive psychology is about presenting life principles to help build up happiness in people without having to turn to drugs. I see in positive psychology the emphasis on building up positive natural highs instead of chemical highs. Also as I have mentioned from my Christian viewpoint, I believe living a life that focuses on the spiritual helps in promoting natural highs as well, As we create habits that are spiritual in nature instead of popping pills and snorting chemicals into the body we can live happier and more fulfilled lives.
It all goes back to the habits we have in our lives. I had a sociology professor in Chicago who started out each lecture reminding us that humans are creatures of habit. Practically all we do in life relates to our habits. We take the same roads to work. We park in the same parking spot and become upset if someone is parked in, “our spot”. I enjoy mentioning to students in my university success course there is no seating chart like in high school but if they notice they usually sit in the same seat each class session – habit. I had a Professor in graduate school one night after three weeks into the semester tell everyone to get up and change seats. Everyone was initially frozen as no one wanted to give up “their seat” – habit. So if we are honest habits control much of our living.
To have a more than ok life, to maximize our living, to build natural highs into our living, we need to evaluate our habits and make choices to create good habits in our life. Jack Canfield in his practical book on life success, The Success Principles, has this to say about habits. “Negative habits breed negative consequences. Positive habits create positive consequences.” I have never met anyone who admits to wanting negativity in their lives. Yet look at all the personal problems and relationship problems in life. Through personal choices many are creating negative habits with ruinous results in their lives and lives of those around them. So a bad habit is an activity ritually being done that is causing negative effects in your life. To get rid of the bad habits we need to choose to replace them with something else. That is one reason habits are hard to break. People just stop the habit. Since there is nothing to fill the void the person rushes back to the bad habit often defeated and building negative self talk of. “Well I tried and failed so I guess I just can’t stop”. So before stopping have a positive habit ready to take its place.
IF you look into new habit creating on the internet most statements point to the need to do something 21 days in a row to create a new habit. I remember in a Positive Psychology class I took the professor emphasized make a commitment for 30 days to get the new ritual habit firm in your life. So if you feel your are negatively affected by spending several hours a night in a habit of watching tv you may want to create a couple new habits of exercise and painting to fill up the time. Think of things you would enjoy doing that will have positive consequences in your life.
Are there any negative habits dragging your life down to just ok existing? Write down two new habits you would like to begin in your life to better improve you daily experience.