10/24/2011 01:17 am ET Updated Dec 23, 2011

Quit Your Vices and Find Happiness

What are you excessively doing in your life that you know is bad for you? Is it alcohol? Overeating? Smoking cigarettes? Everyone has a dark side and it shows up through our vices. What vice is your little voice talking to you about right now? That is the vice you should consider taking down today.

1) Own your vice.

The first step to quitting a vice is to own it, say it, admit it. Now, owning a vice is an art. Most people can't naturally rattle off their issues to another person with a sense of pride -- especially when it comes to their vices or negative traits. No one cuts directly to the truth and says, "This is what sucks about me and I want to do something about it." Instead, people keep their vices hidden, complicated, confusing, sad, guilty and dramatic. Why? Your dark side has an agenda -- it doesn't want to give up the vice. You have figured out a way to accommodate the vice and live with it, even though you know it's bad for you and you wouldn't prescribe it to anyone else. If you wouldn't teach it to your children why would you allow yourself to do it?

2) Choose a life without the vice.

If you really want to take down a vice you must want a life without it. It's important to understand that there is a purgatory that happens when you keep a vice around. When I say purgatory, I am referring to a form of suffering that occurs where you are spiritually and physically stuck. If you keep the cigarette hanging out of your mouth, there are things that you won't let happen in your life. The vice is robbing you of aspects of you that you don't even realize.

3) Describe the impact of the vice.

Once you have chosen a life without your vice, it's important to bring a new perspective to it. Quit defending the vice. Instead, capture how it has been impacting your life. Describe your purgatory. The more lighthearted you can be about it, the quicker the vice will release its grip. I pick potato chips over love. I pick TV over intimacy. I choose the Internet over friendship. Be brutally honest and funny. This will take away the guilt, drama, and shame associated with your vice. When you tell the truth about your purgatory, it diminishes the power of your vice. It also reveals what you may be avoiding in your life.

4) Make a promise to do something about it.

When tackling a vice there are two options. Choose it or lose it. If you choose to keep the vice, then you give up the right to bitch about it to anyone. No more drama. No whining or complaining about it. Instead of saying "Oh I've tried to quit smoking so many times, it's so hard" you have to be able to say "OK, I am not quitting, and I am giving myself cancer." But remember you are stuck in your own spiritual purgatory until you take down the vice.

My recommendation is to lose the vice. Make a promise to stop doing it. Mean it, write out the promise and read it everyday. Create a life without that vice.

5) Tell your friends.

It's important to tell everyone you know about your vice. This will help you establish a support system. It will also make you accountable to others about your vice. It makes it real. You can't hide from it anymore. Tell everyone you've quit smoking. Go on a diet. Confess about your Internet use. It puts your plan in motion and keeps you on it.

6) Implement a consequence system to keep your promise.

The best way to keep a promise is to put in a consequence whenever you break that promise. For example, if you smoke a cigarette, you pay 10 dollars to a friend or do an extra workout the next morning. If you cheat on your diet, you lose your wine on Friday night. Choose a consequence that works for you. The right consequence will keep you from breaking your promise.

People believe they are fixed and change is impossible. It's not true!

Can you stop overeating? Can you control your drinking? Can you put the cigarette down? The real answer is "of course you can." The issue is will you? Your dark side, which enables the vice, will answer the same way every time. "No, you can't do it. It's too hard. You're screwed." The dark side is convincing you to keep the vice and stay small in your life. What does this get you? You get to avoid feeling fear. You get to avoid the challenge. You get to avoid rejection. You get to avoid feeling your heart. Quit listening to your dark side. It's fighting for the vice, not your happiness.