Work, relax, eat, sleep and repeat. This cycle is a reality for most of us. When it comes to relaxation or enjoyment, many of us readily resort to spending money, which may lead to another vicious cycle: shop, accumulate debt, work to pay off debt then shop some more when the novelty wears off.

To make things worse, we’re constantly bombarded with advertising, from the alarm clock radio to the billboards on the drive home from work that affirm and encourage our consumerist urges.

If we can avoid falling into debt to reward ourselves, there are many tempting vices such as alcohol, drugs and sex—just to name a few—that may cause us to gain weight, increase stress and diminish our overall well-being. We often tend to seek the right set of circumstances to give into vices as these seem to arise more often than not: “Today was a day from hell, I deserve a drink” or “I’m so stressed, I just need a cigarette right now.” There are consequences to giving in to vices, whatever they may be.

So, what is the solution? One solution is to begin mindfulness practice. Regular mindfulness practice can reduce stress and can give us pause from these vicious cycles, affording new clarity and insight about our less desirable habits. However, reaping the benefits of mindfulness practice means we have to do it all the time, and this takes discipline. Even if we aren’t achieving enlightenment after each of our meditation practices, or only manage to slow down our minds a little bit, just taking the time to sit each day can benefit the whole day.

Meditating each day of the week, might just make for a better week. Doing it consistently will set us up for a healthier and longer life.

The biggest challenge is keeping disciplined, and the nature of discipline is that it does not necessarily get easier. Whether it’s trying to quit smoking or just curbing spending, regular meditation and mindfulness can help us get better acquainted with our vices and with ourselves.

We just might find that we are bigger than our bad habits and see the freedom of living healthily more than we ever imagined possible.

image: man smoking and drinking via Shutterstock