By Jamie Kirk
Everyone has that one or two things they do daily that just becomes part of their routine. There are many examples of things we just “do” without thinking. For some folks, it is a glass of wine as they cook dinner. For some, it is taking a walk around the neighborhood. For others, it is meditation. There is no right or wrong way to unwind or decompress from a long day. However, once you become dependent on an activity and get tense or stressed out when it is omitted from your schedule, and you get antsy, cranky or depressed; that can be a sign that the train could be headed to derail.
The difference between a routine and a vice is that routine can be altered and flexibility can come without angst. A vice is often associated with bad behavior that can quickly become suffocating. Think of a pair of vise-grips. Vise-grips tend to fit very tightly and do not leave room or space for anything to seep in. The sole purpose of a vice is to hold you in a place of vulnerability.
A common misconception is that a vice equals bad behavior. Being in love can be a vice, always dating someone can be a vice, going to the gym can be a vice, getting advanced degrees can be a vice. Although none of these things seem negative on the surface, anything in excess ain’t good. Vices have to be monitored and controlled so that you don’t allow the pattern-of-choice to become an essential part of your life such that if it does go away, your ability to remain positive and at peace is compromised.
During the holidays creating vices is common. Many of us tend to over-spend, over-eat, and over-think what this time of year means. It becomes less about being grateful for what we have and focusing on the deficit areas (which is so very easy to do). The ‘good’ thing about vices is that they allow us to avoid areas in our lives that may need attention. They feel comfortable and familiar, and often think we feel our best when we don’t have to challenge or put ourselves “out there.” The only way to grow is to become uncomfortable and push through into an area of our life that stretches us and causes us to put forth genuine effort.
We have to be mindful that vices can be good or bad. Beneficial or harmful. Mundane or life-changing. We have to be in control enough to control the way we live our lives. We can refrain from doing something, and change the way we are living provided it’s not an addiction of some sort. Getting a handle on the way you approach life is not always easy. You have to have a strategy for the change because vices hate strategic approaches. Once you have the strategy and a course of action mapped out, the vice will have no other option than to take a back seat.
As a reminder, anything or anyone that you feel is becoming a “need” instead of a “want” should be addressed. Vices make us think it’s just “what I like to do.” Well, that quickly becomes a “habit,” which, in turn, can become “vices.”
So, there you have it. Nip obsessive patterns in the bud, and avoid the downstream impacts of trying to pull back from something that may prove to be chaotic, detrimental or unproductive to your well-being and happiness.
Manage your vices, or they will manage YOU.
Jamie Kirk works for a software company and is a certified spinning instructor. He also enjoys yoga, swimming, bicycling and running. He aspires to start a blog about what we put in our bodies not only fuels our body but our mind and spirit as well. Follow Jamie on IG @tysonsdad