Beware your holiday habits

Happy Guide reader Clair Whitty writes a “Natural Lifestyle” column for The People newspaper in Ireland.

Clair enjoyed instant results with Happy Guide but recently ran into a “holiday habit” problem. Below is what she told her readers. I’ve replied in the comments at the end…

Clair writes…

As many of you know I have had really good success using the guidance and tips from a book called Happy Guide. I know that many of you bought the book and I hope that you had the success that I had…

However, we are all different and we need different tools to help us on our journey. Therefore I am aware that not all of you will have had success using the tools found within the pages of Happy Guide.

For me Happy Guide was perfect, it helped me to break the habits of a lifetime, eating sugar, chocolate and sweet things after my dinner. It also helped me to give up coffee. I must have kept this up for 6 months. I was delighted with myself.

Then, I was on holiday and I thought to myself that I would have one coffee. One would not be so bad. I deserve it — I am on holiday! But… as you are guessing this was foolish…

I went ahead and had the coffee and I haven’t been able to give it up since. And of course, now I am thinking that Happy Guide is stupid, and I have told all my readers to go and buy a copy. So I have spent a few months guilt tripping myself, eating my chocolate after my dinner and having my three cups of coffee a day. I deserve them, so why should I have to give them up?

Then one day I made a discovery; I had a brain wave. I remembered that Mike and James, the authors, told me that I should re-read Happy Guide when I get stuck. I also remembered them telling me that it is the grooves that we keep falling into and it is these grooves, or patterns of behaviour that we need to break.

It is recognising these grooves for what they are and avoiding slipping into them again and again. I needed to change my focus away from the food and into the grooves. I realised that I needed to sort out why I want the chocolate, why I deserve it and why I deserve the coffee — and to think about what else I can reward myself with.

But more importantly… why do I need a reward? I automatically go into the “poor me” mode when I am tired or if I have done a lot of work. I then deserve the goodies!

So with a lot of thought and anxiety around putting my readers astray I am now confident that Happy Guide is indeed worth every penny that you will spend. You may not succeed the first time or the second time but keep reading it again and again until you find your groove — you can do it.

I have done it again.
Thank you Mike and James!

— — — — —

You’re very welcome Clair! I’ve replied to you below. Many thanks for letting us republish your article.

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Michael Kinnaird is the author of Happy Guide, the result of a 20 year exploration into what works for health and happiness.

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One thought on “Beware your holiday habits

  1. Hi Clair,

    It’s great that you came to this conclusion. The truth is habits are tricky little blighters… :-) You really have to keep your eye on the ball or you can easily slip back into your old, health-destroying habits.

    Our holiday habits can be very different from our everyday ones, because we have a completely different set of triggers. For this reason, it’s actually a great time to break a habit.

    But equally — as you’ve found — we’re often very relaxed on vacation and those unhealthy habits can be very seductive and appealing :-) Unforunately, if you cave, you can bring the habit home with you :-)

    Of course, you don’t want to have to behave like a saint on holiday either, so it can be tricky to find a balance. Coffee is definitely a habit to avoid altogether in my opinion becaues there’s a physiological addiction involved, so once you’ve got off it, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

    And there’s no question you’re better off without a stimulant like coffee in your life. Anyway, this is a great example of how deep-rooted habits can be, so you have to be vigilant and question all thoughts and urges :-)

    There is no instant fix when it comes to habits. One read of Happy Guide is not enough — you’ll fall back into your old grooves. We all have to re-read Happy Guide to reinforce our healthy habits and keep the old ones shut-out. Of course it gets easier and easier in time, as the new grooves get deeper and deeper…

    Interesting your point about the rewards. This is very common. Of course ultimately the reward for healthy living is to feel good all the time — but that comes a little way down the road doesn’t it? And our brains work in cause and effect. Do work, reward yourself aferwards. One follows the other.

    The reward allows you to feel good NOW — to the detriment of your health and how you’ll feel in the long term.

    That’s why Mike talks about “faith in the finish line” in Happy Guide. It requires a kind of faith that if you don’t reward yourself with coffee/chocolate etc, you will feel better for it in the end.

    In fact you’ll feel good all the time, instead of just at certain times. And of course that’s the ultimate reward.

    But it takes a kind of faith, because it doesn’t feel like that at the time does it? You JUST want the coffee. Or the chocolate…

    So we have to try to keep the faith and actively choose the long term benefit (to feel good all the time) over these little short-term pleasure boosts that do us no good in the long run.


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