The way you choose to live your life will define how you spend most of your free time. It will also predict your future mental and physical health. Some of us choose to hit the gym, while others would indulge in yoga, creating music or writing.
The people who are ignorant about their health. You see, til a point most people indulge in intoxicating habits in college. They can smoke cigarettes, get sloshed by alcohol or even get high. While this is acceptable by society till a certain age, if not kept in check, these can turn dangerous and self-sabotaging habits. This also includes gambling.
It is said that addiction is a part of a genetic makeup. Some people are more inclined to fall under certain patterns of behavior. While there are others that can stop when they want to and not crave these substances at all.
Genetics act as an additional crutch for the people who are working towards self-improvement. However, the people they surround themselves with pushes them back into the toxic loop of addictive behaviour. Consuming these substances will over time create changes in one’s body. There are actual physical changes in the brain (Brain plasticity) over time. All these substances share a few things in common. The stimulate the reward center of your brain, which gets messed up by over-stimulation. Since you get a positive reinforcement by indulging in these habits, your brain sets a literal mental reminder “This felt good, remember where you found it the next time you are feeling down.” This holds true for binging on TV shows, eating junk food, consuming substances and even social media addiction.
The more you understand the mental and physical repercussions of your daily choices, it becomes easier to recognise the pitfalls. Your mind will tell you that since you have exercised control for such a long time, one drink won’t hurt. Behind the scenes, it’s trying to trick you into giving into that temptation. While the body no longer craves it, the brain misses the good feeling it savored all this time, before you decided to pull the plug.
Some people find it incredibly difficult to let go of the existing friend circle which provides them company to indulge. They collectively take part in these habits. The topic of quitting or cutting down these substances may crop up every time. It’s like talking about being a vegan while butchering a chicken.
The ones who do succeed in moving away from these friends-cum-enablers of addiction, start cutting out people from their lives. They try taking up new activities such as dance lessons, reading, running or try their hand at a new skill such as painting. There are numerous other ways to divert your mind. There is no one-size-fits-all.
There might be a tiny annoyance during the day, which you milk as an excuse to fall back into bad habits. These are the days you label as ‘a bad day’ where ‘nothing went right’.
Instead, go to that happy place in your mind and look back at the good things. Practice gratitude regularly and it will help you reflect positively at life. There will come a point when these tiny problems will stop bothering you at all and you will start feeling more mindful about yourself and everything that surrounds you.
It may be difficult to connect with people in the beginning; good news is that it gets easier with time. Another approach is to go into isolation and solitude. Here, you will avoid going out once getting back home from work/college. As you are indoors, you can try spending time with your family, watch TV or practice a new craft.
You can try to solitary approach, it works well for some people a lot more than others. Though there will come a point on the one week or 14 day mark, where you’d crave human interaction. It’s not like that you do not get to meet and talk with people at work. I am talking about the after-work interaction where you are used to relaxing, discussing your day and again taking part in taboo activities. It’s the feedback loop that has been created over a prolonged period of time, one cannot expect to break out of this mould easily. Though if you commit yourself to it, anything is possible.
You might think that as your friends share a lot of common traits with you. They will defend their habits and compulsions to the point where it can turn into an argument. We have often heard the expression, “We are like two peas in a pod.” People are naturally inclined to likeness and similarities. It gives us a sense of belonging to a larger cause. You may share commonalities with people however, each of your experiences, thought pattern, success, failures are unique to you.
Consider this; All your experiences, whether it’s your first kiss or tenth job interview – Your perception is truly your own. People may have similar realities, but no two incidents are exactly the same. You must understand that you are truly one in a billion. There has never been anybody like you and there won’t ever be. What you are today, breathing and sharing this common plane of existence with others. What you do today shapes your reality and builds your future.
I’d like to say that if you are trying to change something about yourself that you do not like. Go ahead, it will be excruciatingly painful in the start, though as time goes by, you will learn to embrace your newly found self. You would no longer feel the need to confirm to the society’s standards. This will save you a lot of time over the course of your life.
It’s okay if you feel like you don’t belong, this is the feeling that we are working towards. This is where you stop being comfortable living under the radar and you gain the courage to pursue the things that excite you. Get the motivation and the push to break the mould and achieve things that you would never have imagined. The mere thought of living upto their full potential puts people into an abyss of panic and worry. They are scared beyond measure sill thinking about the amount of work that will go into making their dreams a reality. Though they fail to realise that whether they pursue this road or not, the time will pass.
We can either live each day in suffering, complaining about the hand that we have been dealt, we may push the blame on pointless things such as some people get all the luck.
We take the leap and work tirelessly towards manifesting our dreams by perseverance. You need to develop a thicker skin and a never-say-die attitude. Stop doing half-assed work and take the full measure. The end result of either approach can be as different as night and day.
In the former approach, you would look in the mirror and feel so helpless and broken inside that you would find it difficult to recognise yourself.
The latter approach would also make you hard-pressed to recognise yourself, though this will be because when you look back, you will feel the awe upon realizing how far you have come.
You do not have to commit to a complete overhaul in a single moment. Things take time to change, start small, replace your booze with coffee. Maybe skip a smoke break and eat some fruit instead. Keep adding healthier habits to your routine, take tiny steps towards your goal. You might stumble a twice or even a dozen of times, unless you do not give up, you are making progress.
All good things take time. Even though this blog post was written in a single sitting. It did take me time to review and edit to create a better flow.
To all those people who are trying to make a change in their lives, here are some parting words. Though things may seem hopeless now, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, do not under any circumstances give up. Even if you give up, pick up where you left off. You are the architect of your own life, why let anyone else decide the colour of the walls?
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt