Replacing bad habits with good ones

I was reading a post by M.L.Davis at the suggestion of our friend Roger of Woebegone regarding good things that happen when you make writing a habit. I have included a link to her blog below. As I mentioned to her, it reminded me of a book my niece suggested for me when I was discussing breaking a bad habit of mine called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. I wrote a summary about the book in the link below.

Many of my older readers know that I am an alcoholic. But, I have not had a drink in going on twelve years. A blog I wrote on my sixth anniversary remains by far my most frequented blog (link provided below). I think we all suffer from a bad habit or two that we would love to change. I believe that is the reason for the post’s relative popularity. My reasons for change were the wife of a colleague dying from complications from alcoholism and the recognition I was a train wreck waiting to happen.

The best piece of advice I received came from another colleague as we waited in an airport restaurant/ bar for our planes in Cincinnati. When she noticed me not ordering a drink early on in my sobriety, she said her husband went through this. She then said he used the mantra “I am not going to drink today.” There is a reason alcoholics can count the days of sobriety. It is a daily struggle.

Even today, there is a faint whisper of wanting a drink. It usually occurs during certain trigger moments, which Duhigg references in his book. My greater triggers were getting home from work and grilling out on Sunday. Unwinding from a stressful day sent me down an easy path to drinking. And, watching football or golf, while starting the grill became a cue for Happy Hour.

Recognizing these triggers is a way to change the habit. You have to substitute a good habit for the bad one. My good ones were fruit juices, popsicles, and tonic water. The alcoholic brain craves something sweet, so this allowed me to respond to the craving. Non-alcoholic beer helped some, but those added more calories than I wanted.

Regardless of your bad habit, identify its triggers and what happens next. I recall from the book about a worker who snacked too much at work. His cue was going to the restroom that took him past the breakroom. When he realized this, he changed his route and went for a quick walk.

The book is a good read. The attached post does highlight a few examples and teachings, but falls short of what Duhigg’s writings instruct. And, if you are an alcoholic or know someone, please offer the final link below. I have heard good feedback on it as I share what helped me with my problem.

4 Things That Happen When You Make Writing a Habit

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/the-power-of-habit/

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/six-years-alcohol-free-but-still-want-to-drink/

26 thoughts on “Replacing bad habits with good ones

  1. Keith, I had no idea you were an alcoholic. But I appreciate it a lot that you are talking about it so openly which will help others to see their own addiction and handle it more openly. I think someone who has never been addicted cannot understand how much discipline and strong will it needs to stay “clean” or “dry”. But how strong you must have grown in proving yourself that you are stronger than your addiction. My deep respect, Keith!

  2. Thank you for the mention Keith.
    That aside this post reveals you are truly a man of courage and integrity, and one whose blog I consider of the highest quality in terms of subjects and quality of writing.
    All the very best wishes
    Roger

  3. Dear Keith,

    Changing habits is difficult under the best of circumstances. There is a comfort of same ole, same ole. But there are those habits that hold us back from truly making the most out of this gift of life. And yes, some habits are harder to break than others. I have friends who still smoke, some that eat sweets when they are a diabetic, etc.

    One of my friends never takes a drink whenever we go out to eat. I always assume there is a reason but she is not as open as you are. She just says she has an addictive personality.

    As for myself, I am a recovering head injury victim where I can’t afford to get too tired or I do the stupidest things ever. But if I worried about this, I’d never get out the door. But at the same time, I look great and full of life to where I have to really assert myself. When I find myself tiring, I simply have to take a break. Fortunately, my family gets this.

    Thanks a million for your references as they are very useful to where I will be sharing them. We are all in a struggle to do better.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Thanks, Gronda. I was unaware of your challenge. It sounds like you have a good handle on managing your past injury. I have not completed reading your advice to millennials, but I like what I have read thus far. Keith

  4. Note to Readers: We had some friends over for dinner last night. I made two batches of a summer drink, one with and without alcohol. I needed one of the guests to taste the loaded one, to make sure it was not too tart. Now, we need to be safe and get the rest of the alcohol out of the house.

  5. I always admire you for stating, “This is who I am,” and sharing your story. It’s not those pleasant times that make us stronger, but the challenges we face – and conquer!

    You state: ” The alcoholic brain craves something sweet,” and I remember learning about that connection long ago – that so many would switch from alcohol to drinking coca cola—- that the root of the addiction for many was the low blood sugar – and one of the fastest ‘fixes’ was a drink. From my own experience (low blood sugar has been a life-long problem for me) I realized that a beer could turn around those falling-blood sugar jitters almost faster than any other option. After learning the connection between alcohol and blood sugar, I made a point to never drink a beer if I needed to eat or if my blood sugar jitters had my spark plugs misfiring. I’d eat something healthy, drink lots of fluids (juice doesn’t really work well for leveling out the blood sugar…) and then i found i didn’t want that beer!

    Now that I’ve weaned myself away from most all sugar, and I eat well, low blood sugar is rarely a problem.. I enjoy a decadent brownie or something worthy of a possible swing in blood sugar, but a day later all levels out and all is well….

    I’m glad that you are also well!!!

    • Lisa, I love how your conquered your demons with knowledge and diet. You discovered the trigger and changed the remedy. Thanks for the supportive comments. Keith

      • Thanks, |Keith, and had I not had insider info, I could have easily weaned into sing that cervesa to steady the low-blood sugar shakes, and ended up down another challenging road. |Your testimony shows others that they can indeed hop off that road and get on another! happpy fathers day!

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