Breaking habits: It’s the thought that counts

We all have bad habits. Some of us bite our nails, or snack too much, or manufacture methamphetamines. The key to stopping a negative behavior pattern is to acknowledge it. Or get arrested.

Psychologists say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. Unless you’re bad at counting, in which case it takes 37 days. Here are some of the top ones:


Constantly pointing out faults in others means you’re a small, petty person. Or a newspaper columnist. Instead of gossiping behind a co-worker’s back, try to find something nice to say.

Wrong: “I can’t stand that new slut in accounting.”

Correct: “I sure like the outfit on that new slut in accounting.”


There’s no excuse for being late. At least, that’s what my editor is always telling me. Along with how I’m this close to being dropped in favor of more quilting columns.

Truth is, habitually not showing up on time is a sign of laziness and disrespect. So be there when you say you’re going to be there, unless you’re the cable guy we called to fix our Internet, in which case you should just show up whenever you feel like it.


Not as widely criticized, my wife and I experience this often with a certain family member. I don’t want to mention any names, so let’s just call her my sister-in-law, Kathy. If we are hosting a birthday party at, say, 3 p.m. on Sunday, she’ll show up at 2 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. Or even the night before while we’re sleeping. (“Oh hi! Am I early?”)

This bad habit is easy to correct. If we’re having a party on, say, April 19 at noon, we really tell her the party is in May.


Spending too much is keeping many people from the financial freedom they truly deserve. There is a secret to keep you from overspending, and I’m willing to share it with you. Just mail $300 and a SASE to The Daily Sentinel.


My wife is constantly biting her nails, right in front of me. She must be more comfortable in our relationship, because she did NOT do this on our first date. Then again, on our first date, I didn’t show her my bad habits, like how I leave my underwear on the floor, which would have been sort of weird, considering we were at the Rockslide.


We’ll cover this tip next week.


Do you really want to spend most of your life plopped down on a couch watching stupid, mindless TV shows? Probably not. But I do.

Unfortunately, I have to go to work and take care of kids. When I do get to watch TV, it’s never my choice, and I end up having to watch something where a talking purple dinosaur teaches kids how to share things, like their ice cream and books and everything except the remote control.

Which is why I’m so jealous when co-workers talk about the previous night’s episode of the hit TV show that everyone in the world but me is watching. They’ll ask if I saw the finale of “Breaking Bad,” and I feel so left out, all I can do is try to change the subject: “No…But hey! Did you guys happen to see ‘Barney Visits a Firehouse?’”


It’s a free country so I’m not going to tell you not to smoke, and I’m certainly not going to tell you not to smoke marijuana, because every time I make fun of potheads, I get several nasty emails. So go ahead and smoke lots of weed. It won’t make you a loser or anything.

Bad habits do not have to be a way of life. All it takes is a little willpower, the desire to change, and a positive outlook — none of which are qualities you possess. So never mind.

Reach Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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