Use Science to Kick a Bad Habit’s A$$

As I like to reiterate here on my blog, having a hero mindset doesn’t just involve looking after the people (both loved ones and strangers alike) who share the world around you. It also means taking caring of yourself mentally and physically, so you can keep yourself in a state of readiness to rise to the challenges of life.

Remember: You can’t be a hero without the internal resources to recognize, accept, and overcome the “opportunity obstacles” you face.

When you have a partner, a family, employees, or acquaintances to look after, it can be all too easy to get into bad coping habits. These crutches may allow you to “get over the hump” in the short-term, but they can cause damage to your mind and body that will someday catch up with you.

Below are two of the biggest culprits in the realm of bad habits. And do yourself a favor: don’t fall for the gut reaction that these are obvious topics. If they were, why are we still struggling with these bad habits around the world?

Without further ado, let’s talk about how to use the science of mind and body to kick habit ass!


Think smoking is a declining habit and no longer the bogey man it once was? Think again.

Smoking is still lurking around, waiting for you to get weak and pick up a cigarette to cope with a world that’s constantly trying to convince us we should be permanently stressed out.

Are you still smoking? Think about the people you know that are still doing it? Human beings have a tendency to forget we’re all going to die. Despite the number of cancer deaths that can be linked to smoking, people are still puffing away.

It’s easy to tell people to just avoid smoking or just quit. Yeah, thanks for the advice, right? Easier said than done. If you’re stuck in the tobacco trap, don’t panic. Instead, ask science for help!

This can take the form of tinkering with the habit as instructed by Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit. Every habit is composed of three parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward. Research has shown we can work on changing the middle part—the routine. So when you feel the urge to light up, go chew on some gum or call a friend to talk. If the reward is to feel good, then you can do any number of things besides smoke to get that rewarding feeling.

You can also explore other psychological solutions like the Allen Carr method. You can even try hypnosis.

If you feel like you need to gradually step down your habit, decreasing your nicotine consumption over time, you might want to consider vaping. Electronic cigarettes deliver a hit of nicotine but very often do not contain the problematic chemicals associated with cigarettes.

However, some people find keeping up with buying vaping liquids and accessories problematic. Luckily, there are now flexible subscription services that can help, such as Shoreditch. You can find out more about this if you read the information here.

Eating Junk Food

When you’re stressed, it’s so easy to reach for a bag of chips or a candy bar. Just like smoking, this is the result of long years of building a habit from stress cues that cause us to seek a quick reward. The routine in this case is cramming stuff that’s bad for us into our mouths.

Unfortunately, junk food is all around us, whether in the vending machine down the hall, at that great little burger place just down the street. And don’t forget what you’ve already stockpiled at home.

So, if the key to breaking habits is awareness of the cues, routines, and rewards that make up our habits, what do we do about junk food?

First of all, keep a food diary. It can help keep track of your habit, including how you’re feeling when you eat. Thinking about your feelings when snacking can establish whether there is an emotional pattern to your food choices, and help you on the road to discovering better ways to deal with your emotions.

If you’re stressed, consider replacing the junk with healthy snacks that you keep close at hand (or at least closer than the vending machine). Also, exercise can help kick cravings in several ways. Not only does it help to alleviate stress and burn calories, it can also kill those pesky cravings.

The Importance of “Accountabilibuddies”

No matter what bad habit you’re trying to slay, it’s important to get support in your efforts from those that care for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for someone to help keep you on track. These people are affectionately known as “accountabilibuddies” (I don’t care of that sounds corny; maybe you won’t forget it because it’s corny).

It has been proven time and again that accountability greatly increases the chances of success.

So get started now, and kick a bad habit in the ass!

Featured Image Source: Pixabay

Author: Anthony Simeone

I'm a writer, speaker, and an advocate for everyday heroism. I have over two decades of experience in the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of my work is the Live the Hero program, a life philosophy that promotes personal development combined with service to others. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to research in heroism science and positive psychology. You can learn more at

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