“Instant Analysis” by David Lieberman, is a collection of 100 of the “most common, annoying, puzzling, self defeating behaviors and habits” that human beings have, with prescriptions on how to understand and change every one. At 300 pages and 100 bad habits, the author obviously must cut to the chase, hence “instant” in the title.

“Why am I reluctant to plan for my future?”

“Why do I have such difficulty disciplining myself?”

“Why do I feel I’d be happier and more productive if I had more structure in my life?”

“Why do I feel unloved?”

“Why does my behavior change based upon the behavior of others?”

“Why don’t I do the things that I know would make me happy?”

“Why am I plagued by self-doubt?”

“Why do I dwell on the past?”

“Why do I undermine my own efforts?”

“Why do I eat when I am not hungry?”

“Why am I so reluctant to face reality?”

The list goes on and on…

Dr. Lieberman’s counsel is generally right on. If you follow his advice you will most likely see marked improvement. The challenge, of course, is to actually DO as well as you KNOW (see “Why don’t I do the things that I know would make me happy?”).

Back to “Why Are Destructive Habits So Hard to Break?” Dr. Lieberman writes that a “habit is a dead process, it’s automatic… mechanical.” We’ve been doing it so long our awareness of it has ceased to be conscious. If we were to put a hand on a hot stove, the pain (the consequence of a destructive act) is so obvious we immediately cease. Dr. Lieberman recommends becoming more aware of the behavior and its consequences (recording, keeping a journal) and creating a “punishment/reward” system.

Also helpful are, first, becoming aware of the need (supposed or real) that the habit fills and looking for alternative ways to fill it (bad habit of hitting happy hour? Join a volleyball league/chess club/book circle/bowling league scheduled at the same time), and, second, getting a sense of control of your life via small victories. Look for something you know you can “win” at, build an ever-growing track record of successes, raising the bar a comfortable level each time but always higher.

What are you waiting for? Release your brakes, drop your load, get ready to live. It’s your life, you deserve nothing less than to live it at your personal best.