“Habit & Habitat”

imageI have always wondered whether “Habits” influence our “Habitat” or the other way around. When I started my career 35 years back, I used to drink twenty cups of coffee a day. Not a good habit by any stretch of imagination. I justified it by the nature of my job and the people around me. So, I believed that the my habitat influenced my habit of being a coffee addict.

Twenty years back I was diagnosed with diabetes. The doctors told me that I could manage this disease by regular exercise and diet control without taking any medicines.
I cursed my bad luck and my habitat for inheriting this disease. I started walking and also attempted to control my coffee intake. But I always had a knack of skipping my walk or gulping an ice cream with a good excuse to justify my habit. Similarly, I would have another cup of coffee without realising that it is affecting my health. I continued to believe that my habitat was inducing my habit.

One day I returned late from office and told my wife that I would skip my evening walk. I went on to ask for another cup of coffee to relieve my stress after a long day at work. My wife smiled back and reminded me that both skipping my walk and the extra coffee was my habit and nobody else is impacted by it. The more walks I skip and more excuses I give to have extra cups of coffee, the more the impact on my diabetes.

This was a turning point in my life. That day I realised that I am responsible for any habit I have – good or bad. My habitat cannot be blamed for my habits.

I started walking regularly every day and controlling my diet. My walks are more or less regular and my diet almost under control. I did manage my diabetes without medicines for almost a decade. I had to start taking medicines after that since exercise and diet control was not enough after ten years because of my age.

I also reduced my intake of coffee and today I take a maximum of two a day. Both of these changes in my habits has ensured that my diabetes is under control and my yearly medical check up indicates I am fit.

In both these situations, I believed that my habits were due to the habitat around me. But after my wake up call, when I changed my habits, I realised that it was foolish to blame the habitat for my bad habits.

I learnt the hard way that my habits are determined by me and not the habitat around me. May be if I develop good habits, I could positively influence the habitats around me. It is not a easy change but it is worth a try. It took me about ten years but in the end I won and my habits lost.

You could consider influencing your habitat by your good habits. You need to first realise, then change and then you realise that life changes for the good and your habitat is influenced by your habits.

S Ramesh Shankar

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