Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

May 12, 2009


One of my bad habits that I'm having the worst trouble with is my tendency, in some areas, to always over-prepare for everything. I see this trait more in women than in men, the women in my family in particular. This becomes problematic on family trips because my grandmother used to want to bring everything including the kitchen sink--my father once remarked, "I'm sure they have grocery stores where we're going, mom," out of frustration.

My mother, on the other hand, tends to spread the preparing around, chivvying my father and brothers into packing long before they think it is necessary and trying to orchestrate about a thousand chores that she needs "help" with. Of course, my reluctant brothers and father tend to perform these chores in a desultory fashion, which makes my mother even more annoyed. Usually by the time we've actually gotten out the door she has gone completely insane, sometimes to the point where she forgets to pack important items for herself. At that point, the rest of us tend to adopt a turtle defensive strategy and hope it blows over. Perhaps the next time we all go on vacation together we should begin our preparations with some Nitrous Oxide for Mom, like she's going to get surgery. Knock her out until it's all over.

In my case, this is one of the principle reasons why I eat too much--because I'm trying to stave off hunger as long as possible "just in case" something happens and I can't eat at the Regularly Scheduled Time. This, of course, is ludicrous, because you get hungry again at about the same rate no matter how much you stuff yourself. Granted, what you eat can make a difference, but stuffing yourself by itself has no real effect on how soon you'll be hungry again. I'm sure someone will disagree with that, but it has been my general experience.

The trouble with divesting myself of this particular habit is that being prepared is generally a good thing, but like many good habits it can reach neurotic proportions and turn into a bad thing. Limiting a good habit down to reasonable proportions once you're used to regularly exceeding them is terribly difficult. You don't want to train yourself out of the good habit altogether, and the best way to quit most habits is usually to quit cold turkey. I think I also have more than one bad habit going on at the same time. I've noticed a lot of people don't have single bad habits that they can't shake, instead they have a powerful cocktail of mutually-reinforcing bad habits that combine to render them unable to approach the problem successfully.

So, I think the solution for overzealous good habits is to pick a *part* of it that you *can* quit cold turkey, and then quit that with extreme prejudice. In my case, this would probably be eating out--which is difficult for me to quit right now because someone else is in charge of the food budget around here. But it's something to keep in mind for when I have more control over what's going on.

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