18 July 2015

Breaking (the) Bad

When Our Lady Of Awesome was a toddler, she was very fond of her pacifier. It wasn't just something she had to have as she slept; it was something she had with her at all times. With visions of her sporting the teeth of one Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, it was clear we needed to do something about her habit, or dare I say it, pacifier addiction. At the time, we were living in an apartment complex that now sits squarely in the slums of Mesa, AZ, and that place had an incredibly scenic view of the parking lot with an awe-inspiring vista of the trash collection area (jealous?). This was fantastic for Our Lady because she loved, loved, loved seeing the trash truck. When she heard that truck, everything and anything she was doing in her busy two year old world came to an immediate stop and she made her way to the window to see that truck. It was that truck that inspired the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML to break the pacifier habit for our first-born.

In a moment of weakness, Our Lady slept without any of her myriad pacifiers. This was the moment! SML grabbed them all and cut each one of them up. When Our Lady awoke, SML showed her the wreckage and explained that her pacifiers were broken and that they would need to go in the garbage, which meant the garbage truck would come and get them. This somehow made perfect sense in the mind of our two year old. The pacifiers were ceremoniously laid to rest in the garbage and then were given a fond farewell when the beloved garbage truck came by. That was it. The habit was broken with nary a tear, nor the teeth of a resident of an Alabama trailer park.

Fast forward twenty three years and Our Lady, now a mother herself, was facing the same vexing pacifier habit with her son. Unlike her, his pacifier habit was reserved to just sleep time, but with another baby on the way, she decided it was time to break his habit sooner rather than later. So earlier this week, she took the 'cold turkey' approach and simply took it away. How did the Grandson Awesome deal with it? Like a boss, that's how. He did not miss a beat and has slept like a champ since without it. He was pretty proud of himself, as evidenced in this photograph (a new pair of basketball shorts with pockets - he's OBSESSED with pockets - as a reward helped, too):

No tears..that's a cool wink
How this played out got me thinking about the habits that we all have that we know we should ditch. In the two examples I've shared, it would seem that it's fairly easy to break a habit, if you're two. Given that those of you who are bothering to read the Den are a little older than two, we know it's not quite that easy. Some of the bad habits we have may bring us significant pleasure (I'm looking at you, Shake Shack). Some may relieve stress and some may eventually kill us. And yet, we don't give them up. If only it was easy as cutting them up and tossing them in the garbage.

On bad habits, Benjamin Franklin is purported to have said,"It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them." Some of you Luddites may argue that the world's ills can be blamed on Ben for his pesky kite and lightning electricity discovery, but you've can't argue with what he said there about habits.

Bob Gilbert said, "First we form habits, then they form us. Conquer your bad habits, or they'll eventually conquer you." Think about the times when that annoying bad habit you have has controlled the choices you've made. It rarely feels good, right? Typically, it's led to something regrettable.

I wish there was one magic formula to make breaking a bad habit easy, although based on the 'Self Help' section at your local bookstore, it's a cottage industry. It takes will power. It takes recognizing the need to change. It takes support. It takes knowing you may stumble along the way to getting rid of it and being willing to forgive yourself. It takes action.

Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow
Yiddish proverb

I certainly have my share of bad habits that need to go to the garbage, just like Our Lady of Awesome's pacifiers did all those years ago. But better to start the purge today than waiting until tomorrow.

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