8 Common Bad Habits You Might Want to Break

I'm sure you've heard these sayings:

"Old habits are hard to break."

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

But have you ever thought about what these statements really mean? In other words, is it really impossible to change your habits? Of course it isn't, but it is difficult sometimes. Trust me -- I know. I am a person who loves routine, schedules and habits. And it's exactly because of that that I regularly examine what I'm doing on a regular basis.

In my opinion, it's not just the bad habit that is a problem, but more importantly, it's the fact that you are unaware of these habits that is the real issue. I always say, "you can't change what you don't recognize." So, if you don't know that you have these bad habits (or put your head in the sand and ignore them), then how can anything get better? Yes, it's easier to ignore them and look the other way. But it certainly doesn't make your life better.

Here are 8 common bad habits that you might want to think about breaking:

1. Complaining

Even positive people complain sometimes. For example, I hate doing laundry and cooking. While I don't go around verbalizing my dislike of these tasks, I certainly do a little sigh of disgust I my head when I have to do them. But I catch myself. And then I re-frame it. I think, "Hey Carol, at least you have clothes, and water and food. That's more than most people in the world have!" That snaps me out of it. So whether you're complaining about laundry, your spouse, your boss, your kids, your money situation or anything else -- stop. Catch yourself and instead focus on what you HAVE, not what you don't. Appreciation is so important to happy life.

2. Multi-tasking

I am a horrible multi-tasker! But, sometimes I really wish I could do it because I often feel that I would get more done in my life if I could do 5 things at once. However, when I watch people multi-tasking (the ones who can), I notice how they are never really focused. They are not "present." They are always distracted. And honestly, I find it kind of annoying when I'm with them. I want to say nicely, "Hey, could you stop doing this, that and the other thing, and just give me your full attention for a second?" So if you're a chronic multi-tasker, think about how it might be affecting the people around you.

3. Making excuses

Let me ask you this: If a reliable psychic told you the winning numbers to the $100 million lottery, would you waste one more second before you went out and bought that ticket? Of course not! (unless you're independently wealthy and don't need the money!) So why are you making excuses in other areas of your life? If you want something badly enough, you will make sure you do everything you can to get it. So look at your life and see what you are making excuses about. Then stop doing it, and just take the first step!

4. Being obsessed with your phone

If you are old enough to remember a life without cell phones (or the internet), then you know what it's like to live without one! Sure, we forget quite easily what it was like to have to be chained to the corded phone on the wall when talking to a friend. But we survived. And in some ways, life was a little nicer. We paid more attention to the people in our lives. I think it's pretty sad when I go out to restaurants and see whole families sitting at a table not talking because they're all on their phones. Technology can get in the way of our relationships. So put down the phone and talk to people face-to-face.

5. Not paying attention to what you eat

Many people are either emotional eaters or unconscious eaters. I mean, unless you're on a diet, how often do you actually count your calories? How often do you purposely think about what you put in your mouth? Or do you just mindlessly grab a bag of chips and start munching without a thought to the consequences? As we all know, there are many negative consequences to eating poorly -- from bad health to weight gain. So try to put a little more thought into what goes into your mouth. It's not that difficult once you try doing it.

6. Drinking bottled water

Yes, bottled water is convenient. Yes, it's portable. Yes, we all drink it from time to time. But do you ever give much thought to not only to where it comes from (and is it really purified) but also what it does to the environment? A few years ago, I had a student do a speech on how there are so many plastic bottles that are polluting our oceans. She showed us photos of how they just gather together in the middle of the ocean, and it was shocking. So if you want a better alternative, maybe put water in some glass bottles and keep them in your refrigerator.

7. Blaming other people

It's easier to point the finger at other people instead of looking in the mirror and taking personal responsibility for your own actions. For example, I teach classes about interpersonal communication and relationships, and I can't tell you how many people blame other people for making them angry. Yes, they might have done something that was stupid or hurtful. But YOU are the one who chooses your reaction. That's a novel concept for a lot of people, but it's true. You can't control what happens to you, but you can take responsibility for how you act in any given situation.

8. Hanging around negative people

"Birds of a Feather Flock Together." You've heard that one before. Even if you're not a negative person, you might have a friend who does nothing but complain and drag you down - and then you eventually become burned out. I call these people "Energy Vampires" because they suck all the positive energy out of you, and then you feel physically drained when you are around them (and even after you leave them until you re-charge). That's no way to live! Surround yourself with people who lift you higher and challenge you to be a better person -- not people who knock you down.

This is just a small list of some of the common bad habits we can all change. No one is perfect -- we all can make changes in our lives for the better. However, it all starts with awareness. So take a good look at yourself and see what you can change to make your life more positive!