Try the opposite

I consider myself the owner of a number of good and bad habits. Some of these bad habits are so engrained in my psyche that I fear they can never be overcome. Still there is always hope, and Epictetus offers a seemingly simple solution.

If you ever watched the Seinfeld show, you may remember the episode where Jerry advises George to just do the opposite of whatever he would normally do. His life starts to improve as he is now just doing the opposite of everything he would normally think or do. The premise here was that his original thoughts and inclinations were always wrong, thus the opposite would be right.

Now I wouldn’t advocate this for anyone, because no one is as flawed as George was portrayed. However this simple approach could be selectively applied to those bad habits you seek to overcome. Here are couple examples:

  • I normally get angry at other drivers, so my new strategy is to smile at them.
  • I normally drink to excess on Friday nights and instead I workout and meditate, or go out to a new restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol.
  • I normally find something critical to say about my work or employer, but instead I make a point to discuss all the things I like about my job.

In each case I employ the theory of taking a negative habit and doing a positive thing that is the opposite. What the hell if it’s good enough for Epictetus, then it’s worth a try. What have you got to lose?

Namaste

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