Breaking a Habit

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

-Warren Buffet-

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Have you ever tried to give up something you love?

For years, I tried to cut back on my favorite soft drink but was never successful. Knew I was drinking too much, but it just tasted so good. The problem was I had one at lunch, had another in mid-afternoon, another one for dinner, and one more in the evening. It had become a habit.

Habits become like second nature to us. They’re not so easy to break.

Think about all of the things we do each day without thinking. Habits that are like second nature. Our habits start when we get up in the morning and don’t stop until we turn out the lights and go to bed.

Talking to friends or colleagues would often bring good advice, well-intentioned, but frequently didn’t fit into the structure of my day. It was hard to stay motivated, difficult to think about reasons to change.

There are even self-help books proposing ways to change or break a habit. Books with suggestions such as making a plan, writing it down, starting small by eliminating one (Coke) a day for a week, analyzing when and why I was doing what I was doing.

Often I would make a note on my calendar in big block letters, STOP DRINKING COKE and it worked until I just forgot, second nature kicked in, I ordered a Coke without thinking.

Articles I read tried to convince me anything that could clean dirt and grime from the hubcaps on my car couldn’t possibly be something one would want in their body.

Sometimes I just decided to change which is the most crucial part of the process. But, unless you are truly ready to change, you will probably have trouble following through.

Happy to report I haven’t had one single drop of Coke for eight years. Want to know how I did it? It was easy.

All it took to go “cold turkey” was losing my sense of smell and taste!

In May 2009 checking into the hospital to have a small procedure done, I had no issues smelling or tasting. Two days later was released not being able to do either due to a severe reaction to a medication.

Some months later, I did regain most of my taste, but it was gradual. I was surprised to discover Coke tasted gross, sort of the way I imagine motor oil might taste, so I only had a few sips before giving it up for good.

Since I had no control over losing my taste, it was easy. Who really craves drinking motor oil? Oh, I still enjoy a soft drink with pizza or Skyline Chili. The only difference is nowadays it is white, never a cola. Today, water is usually my drink of choice which is a good thing.

My loss of smell is more difficult. After eight years, I occasionally catch a whiff of a simmering pot roast, someone’s perfume or aftershave, or a hint of my granddaughters’ shampoo when they give me a hug. Most of the time, there is nothing.

I took my sense of smell for granted. Never realized how much I would miss the wonderful smells that surround us every day until they were gone. Flowers in the spring, fresh-baked cookies, clean sheets right out of the dryer, or the fresh clean smell in the air right after it rains.

I’ve never liked coffee so it seems odd that the most frequent smell in my little world is Tom’s coffee brewing now and again in the morning.

Still have lots of habits; some good, some bad. Plenty of those need to be altered. Some may be out of my control. Others will require discipline.

So what have I learned from this experience? I have discovered life is what it is. Aging is teaching me it’s okay to cut myself some slack and learn to live the best I can with the cards I have been dealt.

Ending on a Positive Note: Life is so short; it seems a waste of time to concentrate on things beyond my control. I miss the smell of everyday life but am so thankful for the many other blessings I still can enjoy.

 

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