New Year's Resolution: Removing Vices
While many resolutions have us trying to fit more in to our already packed days, the most common, I imagine, is actually the removal of something. Quitting smoking, drinking less, or giving up junk food, land pretty high up on people's top objectives, and it's tough. While hitting the gym takes time, if you can drag your lazy butt there, you feel amazing afterwards. You have the pride of accomplishment, and probably some better sleep to maintain your confidence. Not so with the removal of the crutches we all have in our lives.
Each "vice" serves a purpose. They fill a need in our lives that go well beyond the physiological craving of the item itself. For me for example, take out coffee is the single biggest drain on my spending money. When I'm at home with my percolator, french press, and my single serve brewer (um, yup, all three), it seems ridiculous to spend money on coffee out of the house. I buy quality brands to home brew, and cute travel mugs to tote it in, so I have no excuse. Except the baby did something unexpected (duh), and then I ran out of the house to catch the bus, but then I got to the mall early, so I had a little time... I mean, those Canadian comfort cups of joe and those artfully steamed dream cups get me every time!
While I certainly don't plan to give up my drink of choice, my health and wallet would absolutely benefit from my curtailing my purchase of take out coffee specifically. Full fat creamer and richly flavoured syrups are just not things I indulge in at home, and that's fine. I don't need a mocha every day, just like I don't eat cheesecake for dessert on a Wednesday (unless that Wednesday is my birthday, naturally). So, I had to stop and think about why I do it, and often don't feel badly about it, until later. I think a lot of these reasons will strike a chord with whatever guilty pleasure you are holding on to, and just might help you fight it head on this year.
One of the reasons (other than the awesome taste) that I drink as much coffee as I do, is the culture of java. Meeting someone for a drink (be it caffeinated or alcoholic) is a social thing. It is a chance to tell stories and make stories, with strangers and friends alike. This is probably why 20-somethings have bars and business schmoozers do lunch. The coffee (or meal, or cigarette) is something to have in your hand, and occupy your mouth, to minimize awkwardness. For myself, baby group already has such a distraction - babies! If you're having trouble relating, or you don't know what to say, just watch the kids. Narrate their actions or ask about their outfits. Mom's love talking about their offspring.
Another way take out coffee fills my needs, is comfort. I really enjoy travelling, and coffee houses are everywhere. From frothy drinks in Shanghai to tiny cups in Barcelona, I have been known to buy a drink multiple times a day. Something about the familiarity, even far from home, is reassuring. Before my son was born, my boss and I would buy a coffee every morning on our way to work together. We bonded, we grew to know the staff, we had a routine. Routine is a soothing way to start the day for me as a non-morning person. I just follow the steps until my mind catches up to my body. So... all I have to do is make a habit of something new. Hard, but not impossible.
Lastly, I think coffee is almost a hobby for me. I don't regularly play a sport, I'm not really in to collectibles, and I don't have many crafty skills. The process of going out for coffee involves some time and action that a mug at home doesn't. On the weekend, we can grab something on our way back from the grocery store. After a weekly play date, my husband and I can meet for a treat and discuss the day. It's something to do, as well as consume. As if I have all this time to spare! With all this supposed "coffee time," I can learn a new skill this year. One that has concrete results, and no calories! This might mean something I've always wanted to learn, like knitting, or simply improving something I already enjoy in a more dedicated way, like photography.
I'm not saying that every bad habit is as easy to decrease as mine. There are real withdrawls, and it takes a lot of dedication to give up something that you are physically and mentally attached to. 2015 is a new year, and maybe looking at something you want to change in a new way will help to kick whatever monkey you're over off your back.
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