It's So Wrong But Feels So Right: 6 Reasons We Do Things We Know Are Bad For Us

by Grant Cohen

If I may quote the indomitable Kanye West, “Why everything that supposed to be bad, make me feel so good?” While Kanye is known for his, shall we say, unique and unorthodox perspective, it’s not often that he presents us with such an introspective, philosophical query.

Why do we participate in unhealthy activities when we know they do more harm than good?

For example, despite more and more incriminating knowledge about tobacco that we learn each day, US citizens continue to burn those butts. Additionally, in spite of the seemingly endless amounts of information we learn on the hazards of drugs, alcohol and other commonplace vices, so many of us continue to make poor choices.

Now, we all know that to err is human, but what point do bad decisions and ill-advised habits serve when they become harmful to our bodies, souls and minds? Why do we continue to partake in “bad” when we know why and how something hurts us?

Well, there is a handful of explanations, really. Let’s take a stab at dissecting some of the driving forces behind why we do things that we know are bad for us:

1. Peer Pressure

Okay, so our moms and dads taught us all about peer pressure and how the never-ending struggle to fit in isn’t always worth the bad decisions that may come with it. But, let’s be real, here: We’ve all succumbed to peer pressure at some point or another and it’s only natural to wish to appease those around us in an attempt to fit in.

Whether it’s underage drinking, taking a hit from that joint a friend just passed you, or something more psychologically harmful, like adopting a prejudiced school of thought or participating in the reputation-bashing of somebody deemed “uncool” by our peers, we all want to be accepted.

We all want to fit in. Sometimes, this leads us to make bad decisions that we may or may not pay for in the end. Regardless, peer pressure is no joke and its influence can sway individuals and entire communities alike.

2. Habit

Sometimes, force of habit can be damn near impossible to break. Just ask any smoker what the hardest part about quitting is and he or she will most likely tell you that it’s breaking the habit of having a cigarette during a certain activity.

I know smokers who simply have to smoke a cigarette after a meal, on long drives or when they’re drinking. Some say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Well, day one has to start some time, right?

3. Conditioning

So many of us are conditioned to think or feel a certain way that we have no idea we may be just a cog in a machine, endlessly churning out whatever product we’ve been trained to create. Habits can be hard to break, but conditioning can be flat-out dangerous and seemingly impossible to alter.

Once you’ve done something for so long or have been a part of an environment so consistently, there is a chance that you may never open your eyes to an obvious truth or break the cycle to which you’ve become so accustomed. Sometimes, it’s just how we’re raised.

Often, we become conditioned to think, feel and act certain ways, due to the result of an impactful event in our past. It’s always important to take a step back and withdraw from one’s life from time to time. Think for yourself and walk your own path, always.

Before you know it, it may just be too late to change.

4. Denial

This is tough one. Have you ever known someone who continuously makes bad decisions, yet refuses to admit he or she has a problem? Sure, we all have.

Denial can be dangerous in any dose. Sometimes, it takes others to intervene in order to help someone realize he or she may be headed down a slippery slope. Regular self-assessment is key for avoiding denial. How do your actions affect you and those around you?

5. Misinformation Or Lack Of Education

Think about this little tidbit of truth for a moment: From the 1930s to the 1950s, people actually thought cigarettes were good for you. Cigarette companies like Lucky Strike would send doctors cartons of free smokes in exchange for the go-ahead on “physician-approved” tobacco advertisements.

Also, you know how millions of people drink “diet” sodas because they have less sugar and are fat free? Now we’ve learned that artificial sweeteners may lead to cancer. Knowledge is power and power is healthy.

Sometimes, it’s hard to make certain decisions in good faith when we don’t know all of the facts or if we are simply misinformed. What we perceive as good, or better, may actually turn out to be the polar opposite.

6. Bad Feels Good

You simply can’t deny it. Kanye said it right. (How often is that statement muttered?) Sometimes, bad just feels so good. We’ve all been there. Your ex sends you a midnight text to come over and play, complete with a winky face and other suggestive emojis.

You know your ex is bad for you, but you convince yourself otherwise. You eat that bowl of ice cream and tell yourself it’s low fat, so you’re in the clear, even though the calorie-count you just ignored offers opposing information.

Hey, what’s the harm in another all-night bender with your closest friends even though last time, you woke up facedown in the middle of a Wal-Mart parking lot, with a splitting headache and an alarming lack of pants?

Sometimes, things just feel good when you’re in the moment. It isn’t until you’re paying the consequences later on that you begin to have doubts.

All things considered, bad decisions can be very good for us. They help us learn from our mistakes and they become the driving force behind long overdue changes for the better. Or, they are simply fun as hell, so you try to do them in moderation.

It’s hard to condemn someone for doing something wrong, despite the fact that they know it’s ill advised because, frankly, we’ve all been there. Just be sure to grow from those naughty deeds and try to become a better person in the future.

Anyway, I have to go now. My abusive ex-girlfriend is texting me and she hates when I take too long to text back.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It