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How To Quit A Bad Habit

Updated on September 17, 2008

If you want to quit a bad habit, you are bound to fail.

If you want to quit a bad habit, you are bound to fail. Your mind, if it’s similar to most minds, is programmed to build up habits, and not to change old ones. Trying hard not to do something only reminds us of the very activity that we are struggling to give up. We should give ourselves positive actions, rather than negative steps, to follow. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Then, some of you might say, “wait. It all sounds good, but, why should I listen to you?” The reason is not that I am a doctor, even though some might think doctors know about this kind of problems. It’s not that I hold a Master’s degree in Health Management either. Even though the name of the degree was suggestive, it had nothing to do with managing health. It could have been better named Master in Health Organization Management. My response is: you have to listen to me because of the simple reasons that

1. I have been there and done that and

2. I wish that you can also do it.

If you can do the same using the hints that I am about to share, come back and leave me a comment. That will make me very happy indeed and make everything worthwhile.

Before you read on, you might be interested in my credentials. Here they are:

I was once smoking, not any more.

I was once drinking, not any more.

I once weighed 210 pounds, now I weigh 159.

I hardly moved, now I do marathons.

For years, I was taking sleeping pills, not any more.

I was a workaholic, now you can see me spending time writing all these hubs and doing other things outside my working life.

I know I haven’t quite made it there yet. I am trying hard to live a sensible life but:

I often put my better senses aside and invest in things I don’t fully understand.

I still go through red lights and do illegal U-turns.

I still shout at my children and tell them to get out of my way, more often in my head, but sometimes even verbally.

I still use people to get me things rather than the other way round.

I still put off my tasks till tomorrow.

I still scratch my toes when no one’s looking (Did I hear someone ask whether I still pick my nose? No, I have recently stopped that. How I did it will be another story).

I'd better stop before you get to see me bare everything. Nonetheless, I think I have made my point. I am interested in having more and more good habits and fewer and fewer bad ones as times go by. I have managed to do just that and will keep on doing it. I know you can too. Too good to be true? No, it’s not. You will be guessing what I’d be saying next. No, I am not asking you to cry your heart out and repent your sins. Neither am I directing you to my Twenty-five dollar best-seller on "How to change your life in 30 minutes". It has not been written yet. Even if it has been written, I will have it free for download for a limited time, here at hubpages. I am not asking you to pay $250 to hear me speak in person or $500 to do my e-course in “Life transformation” either. If you don’t click any ads on this hub, my advice is absolutely free. Please don’t click any ads, I need your total attention. I might acquire my “Anthony Robbins of the East” status any time now and then you might see me making you pay left, right and center for my advice. So mop up these useful hints while they’re still free.

In my experience, to do something well and succeed, one needs to follow positive commands and fuel the action with positive reinforcement. In other words, we need to acknowledge ourselves for achieving certain tasks. A sense of achievement will get us much farther than a reward in the form of food, alcohol, a new pair of shoes, a new dress, a diamond ring, a kiss or even sexual favor. (Hands up those who never check their hubscores. Now hands up those who check them everyday. See? We do care about how we are achieving.) We need to return to the way we learned in kindergarten or primary school where tasks were achievable and lead you to the next. We need to be doing right, feeling great, doing better, feeling better and on it goes.

To quit a bad habit, you must feel that you are in positive control of your life. You have to think of yourself as being a much bigger and better person than the habit. Of course, you are. You were once again that young person who was not smoking, nor drinking, nor binge-eating, nor afraid to change. You were actually busy learning one thing or another: to play basketball, to do your mathematics, to read, to talk to girls (or boys) intelligently, kindly or humorously, so that they would find you attractive. Then you were not feeling so certain about yourself. You wanted a booster to help you look mature, or seasoned, or even bad. You might be smoking to dampen the boredom or frustration that you were not doing too well. The cigarette was but a proxy of the real thing. You might also be drinking to help relieve the stress. Return to the drawing board. Don't pretend to be mature, or in control, or sophisticated. Be the real achiever who tries to be mature, to stay in control and remain sensible. The achiever is not the person who has achieved everything he wants. He (she) is simply the one who keeps trying and congratulates himself (herself) on not giving up.

Start with something small:

smile to the people you meet

hold the door or lift open

say "good morning" or "how are you" heartily,

stop watching sick TV programs or movies (unfortunately, that might mean all programs or movies)

read something positive everyday

say thank you to your spouse or co-workers

go jogging or fast-walking

choose a worthy charity and decide how you can help

turn off your lights and go to bed at 11 pm (don't forget to kiss your partner)

wake up at 7am, smiling

turn up at work on time with well-groomed hair and smell good if possible

When ready, move on to something even more positive:

Start exercising regularly.

Learn to write or draw or paint or sing or ski or do whatever that thrills you

Try to make the world a better place, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

Help the person in need you happen to meet or learn about today.

Start to execute your ideas to improve your community.

Share your time, skills or experience with the people who need them (that’s exactly what writing this hub is about).

Coach the school basket ball or swimming or writing or singing or dancing or whatever-ing group.

You are still allowed to engage in your bad habit once in a while (provided it’s not slashing throats or bombing buildings, etc) after doing all the things above. It is important that you realize you are not any less worthy smoking that cigarette, or having that drink or dessert (not that I advise it). You simply don't get the kick out of it as before. Besides, the bad habit somehow doesn’t go along well with the better person you are becoming.

That’s the secret I am sharing with you: forget about quitting that bad habit. Be a better person. If you only concentrate on quitting the bad habit, you will either succeed or fail. But when you concentrate on becoming a better person, you will always do better than when you began. More often than not, having successfully quitted the bad habit as well, is a bonus.

(This hub is a completely rewritten article based on an earlier article “How to stop smoking” I published on


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    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 5 years ago from Hong Kong

      hi Deepak Choudhry,

      thanks for commenting. Yes, give it a go.

    • profile image

      Deepak choudhry 6 years ago

      Thanks a lot, i think its works... I wil try it.

    • profile image

      kennedy 6 years ago

      nice, sure to work, add to apply

    • profile image

      faisan 6 years ago

      maa chuda ................

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 6 years ago from Hong Kong

      hi mohawkman,

      great. keep up the good work.


    • profile image

      mohawkman 6 years ago

      Great article- I have been there and am doing that and I think I will be very happy to never stop trying to improve. Thank u!

    • daryl2007 profile image

      daryl2007 6 years ago

      this is a wonderful article helping people to quit smoking...I also made one great contribution for smokers...and i believe it could help those who are smoking to start a new life.

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

      hi raghuram,

      thanks for commenting.

      Luck follows the willing.

    • profile image

      raghuram 7 years ago

      the message above is very nice i will follow

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

      Ali Hadrouni,

      thank you for dropping by and commenting. Glad you like the article.


    • profile image

      Ali Hadrouni 7 years ago

      Thank you

      I like the way you write. it is very simple and encouraging to read the whole article. I find the article full of practical ideas. I really like it so much .

      Good job

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

      Hi Seth,

      best of luck with your endeavor.

    • profile image

      Seth 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for your article, I hope all works out well and I'll be sure to post back later if all goes great, which I'm certain it will because your article is rather in depth haha.

      I'm breaking a habit that I've done ever since I was thirteen (not smoking or drinking or anything of that sort) so I have confidence that I can change it even though my problem was used to escape stress and for the longest time being happy just by doing it on a daily basis. I built my life around it thinking it would make me happy but there was once a time I didn't have access to it for two weeks and when I returned I realized how depressed and stressed I got, so I am thankful I got to see that there is happiness outside of it.

      Well, Thank you again for this wonderful read and best of luck with any of your addictions as well!

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

      Hi Lauren,

      thanks for commenting.

      Best of luck.

    • profile image

      Lauren 7 years ago

      Thank you very much!!

      I am going to follow your advice :)

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

      Hi Sheena,

      as I suggested, you might want to focus on the positive actions (like following a study time-table) rather than try not to do something.

      Best of luck.

    • profile image

      Sheena 7 years ago


      I want to stop internet browsing very badly. I am trying hard. I am college student so I need to be more focused and right now, I live by self that I have encourage myself. ..I am going to start this. But sure need more tips n advice.

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Hi AEvans,

      thanks for dropping by and commenting. I wish you success and happiness.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      I have saved and bookmarked this one! There are certainly some habits I can stop, thanks so much for this one Benson. :)

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Hi Turk,

      that's certainly a creative and original comment. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Turk 8 years ago

      I have read all of your article.

      No need to do all of these. Just be a muslim and ACT like a muslim. It is much more relieving and really helps quitting bad habits. (It is not religious propagation, just personal opinion and experience)

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear Tanima Sen,

      it's natural that you feel scared. That's what leads us to certain bad habits in the first place. Please read the article again and see whether there are any ideas which you can implement early, like tomorrow.

      best wishes.

    • profile image

      Tanima Sen 8 years ago

      Hi doctor Yeung,

      I am addicted to smoking and zarda paan for few years. I dont like to have these but still i am attracted towards these stuff.I read you article today. I will try my best to implement whatever you have advised. But i am scared if i do this again tomorrow? I have no control over me.

      Please advise.

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 9 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear Gerg,

      thanks for dropping by and your support.

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 9 years ago from California

      Great stuff, Benson! Thanks again ~

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 9 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear CC,

      thanks for commenting your kind words. I thrive on these.


    • profile image

      C. C. Riter 9 years ago

      Benson, my only bad habit is hubpages. What must I do?

      I just love the way you advise us. I wish you were one of my Doctors here at home.

      But then, I have you online all the time, to read, perruse and enjoy. My hats off to you.

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 9 years ago from Hong Kong

      Hi Lgali,

      thanks for commenting.


    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 9 years ago

      Good article ! thank you for your advice

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 9 years ago from Hong Kong

      Dear Dottie,

      thanks, I won't tell.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      This is hysterical, love your way with words. I do most certainly agree for I have quit smoking and broke some habits by using the same hints that you share here today! Great and useful hub and a thumbs up! (and a click too, shhhh)

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 9 years ago from Hong Kong


      you must be a great person. Only great persons like the way I think.

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 9 years ago from California

      Interesting angle here. I'll have to try to keep this in mind and see if maybe I can thin out some of my vices. I do like my vices though. Still, food for thought. I do like the way you think as I go through some of your hubs.

    • mattferry profile image

      mattferry 9 years ago from California

      well you've certainly convinced me to read the whole article. i believe you have a say because you've been there and have done that. I enjoyed learning new things from you. thanks

    • profile image

      siyu07 9 years ago

      Great hub!!! Deliver a very positive message & lot of good suggestions which are easy to do in daily life. I'll start trying some, and hope to see a better "me" soon!!!

    • profile image

      teresaleung 9 years ago

      Dear Dr Yeung

      I admire your great achievements. It sounds easy, I will do that, trying to be a better person, hoping to have a bonus of better sleeping.

    • profile image

      ttain 9 years ago

      It's true but we surely can do something to change !

      In my side it's bound to change for a saint to praise and also his action !

    • profile image

      Rose.wood 9 years ago

      It's amazing article...thx very much.

    • profile image

      styla 9 years ago

      hi,i learn from it ,thanks!

    • profile image

      tdwlx123 9 years ago

      hello, what a long article ! thank you for your advice.

    • profile image

      thehappyumbrella 9 years ago

      well sir, that article is very interesting.=) wish more people would get to read this that we may be able to apply such positivity in real life.=)


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