Reminder: Break Bad Habits, Develop Good Ones

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The previous guest post talked about breaking bad habits and developing new ones. Here, we'll discuss that concept further. 

Habits develop over time; if you do the same thing over and over for enough time, you'll eventually program it into your routine. Sometimes, this is a good thing. Have you noticed how the first few days of fasting in Ramadan feel so hard? But, once you get past the first few days, you don't even notice you're fasting. Sometimes, it's a bad thing. Have you noticed how difficult it is to stop eating junk food and start eating healthy? Bad habits become bad routines, which could turn into bad personalities. We need to be careful of the kind of habits we allow ourselves to get into.

How to break bad habits:

1. Identify your bad habits.
    No one's perfect. We all have bad habits; we all need change, sometimes. The first step is to admit that to yourself so you can start to correct it.

2. Pick one habit to focus on.
     You might have a list of bad habits and you might not know where to start. It's okay, take it one step at a time. Start small. It's easier to break up a large task into smaller ones.

3. Make the intention and ask Allah for help.
     Sincerity is key. Put in your effort but ask for Allah's help, too.

"And whosoever is conscious of Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He (Allah) will make a way for him to get out (from) every (difficulty), and He will provide him from (sources) he could never imagine."

{Surat At Talaq 65:2-3}

4. Replace a bad habit with a good one.
     Completely breaking a bad habit may be difficult. It's usually easier to switch out your bad habit for a better one. That way, it won't really seem like you're giving something up.

"Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people."


5. Pick a reward strategy and pick a relapse strategy.
     For example, after a week of giving up your bad habit, reward yourself! Get yourself ice cream! Chocolate! Treat yourself to a nice day out! You've achieved a milestone; give yourself positive reinforcement. On the other hand, if you find yourself suddenly returning to your bad habit, take a different route. Every time you return to your bad habit, force yourself to give money to charity or pray 2 rak'ah for forgiveness or fast an extra day; your bad habit 'costs' you and the more you do it, the more those 'costs' will build up. For example, if you find yourself swearing or cussing or using bad words, force yourself to put money in your "swear jar". 

What are some bad habits you can replace with good ones? 

Leave your suggestions in the comments!

> Replace curse words with 'astaghfirullah'. Ask for forgiveness instead of getting bad deeds.

> Replace scrolling through social media before bed with reading dhikr or a page of Quran. Download an app for it, but get rewarded and sleep more peacefully. 

(Note: parts of this post were inspired by The Ideal Muslimah's blog post "16 Ways to Kick Bad Habits During Ramadan" -- external link provided.)

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