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The role of contentment in controlling bad habits April 13, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Self-Discipline.
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Richard Carlson, in his personal development book You Can Be Happy No Matter What, says, “The dynamics of healthy psychological functioning tell us that you get your positive feeling back by releasing the thoughts that are taking your good feelings away.”

If we do not have serenity (contentment), Carlson says, we are then tempted to turn to other (outside) sources in a misguided effort to achieve contentment, such as excesses of: alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food, exercise, sex, and work.

“Serenity or contentment,” he adds, “is the breeding ground for positive change…if you have serenity, eliminating bad habits is both possible and enjoyable, but without serenity, change is difficult, almost impossible.”

Can this approach work for everyone?

In terms of bad habit reduction or elimination, Carlson’s theory raises the following dynamic:
Can we think ourselves into a new way of acting (and therefore achieve contentment)? or;
Do we need to act ourselves into a new way of thinking (and thereby achieve contentment)?

The path to be taken to achieve contentment or serenity may actuallly depend more on the individual and his or her specific circumstances.

For some people, a particular bad and harmful habit may so debilitating that it must somehow be removed before an individual can have enough peace of mind and unclouded thinking to be able to work effectively on their self-improvement program.

For others, they must use a variety of techniques to gain some measure of peace of mind and clear thinking before they can have the mental and emotional strength to seriously work on reducing or eliminating a harmful bad habit.

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