What Does Your $8.40 Do For You?Posted: May 15, 2012
I walked into the grocery store yesterday behind a woman who turned to the head of the register line and snuck through. That was a clue to what she was buying, but I didn’t notice until I grabbed my mega chocolate bar and got in line behind her.
I know, I’m not supposed to be eating those right now, but I was weak.
The cashier said “Eight forty,” and that snapped me awake.
Eight dollars and forty cents for cigarettes that would last a day.
The government is taxing the crap out of those things to try and force people to quit.
We all know smoking is horrible for you. You can’t smoke in a bar, or most any other place people gather. Why? Because it makes people sick. Not just any sick. Lung cancer. Painful, agonizing death, sick.
Still, people smoke.
Before I got too high and mighty, I looked down in my hand.
Every time I drive to the store for one of these, or to Country Whip to get an ice cream sundae, I have a conversation with myself. It goes something like this:
“You know you shouldn’t do this.”
“It’s just one (insert highly-caloric indulgence here). I ran yesterday.”
“That photo is coming up in 40 days.”
“I’ll run tomorrow.”
“You’re just making it harder on yourself.”
“Oh, shut up.”
Like so many of our decisions in life, we talk about the rational aspects. The facts. The cost. The consequences. But what really matters in life when you get down to it is emotion. There is a reason I eat chocolate. It tastes good, but more than that it makes me feel good.
I’ve got a major neural pathway from my sweet taste buds to the big pleasure center in my brain.
I’m spoiling myself. Telling my body I love it even though I’m adding fat calories by the handful.
It would be better if I dug deeper to the reason I was going out for chocolate, but that’s not for the faint of heart. Sometimes my indulgence is a celebration, but more often something is bothering me and junk food is an escape. A signal to myself that it’s ok. I’m worthy.
At some level I believe these bad habits are really useful. In my case they help stave off worry about the future, book sales, or whatever peril I imagine my kids facing. When I’m done fattening myself up, I can go back to my day and cruise along.
I really admire those people who can turn a healthy habit into a reward. To substitute a long walk for chocolate or cigarettes. That relieves stress AND makes them healthier.
Kudos to them.
Years ago I worked for a company and one of the owners was really fond of saying, “Habit can be your strongest ally or your fiercest foe.” I’ve found this to be so true!
But can we really extinguish every bad habit?
Is there some good that comes out of being bad?