What’s Your Kiss of Death (out of these 56 Vices)?

Because it’s February and the stench of love is lingering in the air, I thought we’d talk a bit about kisses of death (i.e., the ways we are slowly but surely killing ourselves limiting our lifespans &/or wrecking our lives while we’re fortunate to still have lives to wreck). I know, I know…I’m a hopeless romantic!

[Aside: Just like how I wasn’t in the mood for GOALS!GOALS!GOALS! on January 1st, I’m also not in the mood for mushiness this Valentine’s Day. It’s fine; I’ll likely recover from this anti-holiday-itis by Easter just in time to eat all the Cadbury Crème Eggs I can get my chocolate-smeared hands on. So for this post: not a lot of “love makes the world go ‘round” vibes…more of the “let’s sabotage our lives a bit less” kind of tune.]

You and your inherently fallible humanity

Sour Patch Kids Make Life BetterAs fundamentally flawed animals, we are riddled with vices that range from mild bad habits (like eating a big bag of Sour Patch Kids before bed—leaving the nasty yellow ones behind for The Husband—and then not flossing), all the way over to seven-deadly-sin-type-shit (we’ve seen Se7en the movie and can’t unsee Gwyneth’s head-in-a-box).

Vices are negative, destructive, morally wrong traits that can rob us of longevity, love, health, vitality, freedom, and a positive sense of aliveness. (Oh, and good dental health.) Bad habits might not be morally wrong, but these behavior patterns can negatively impact our lives, too.

We have to deliberately and repeatedly override our default “horrible human” settings to live better versions of our lives—lives that might be longer/ less stressy/ more successful/ less annoying for the people around us/ noticeably more alive…if we diminished a vice or two.

For the record, I don’t care what sins you’ve been committing (unless you’re into murder/ violence/ kid stuff/ human trafficking/ eating with your mouth open—in which case I do care very much, and you need to die an early death be banished from our galaxy). For the rest of us half-decent people just trying hard to not be as horrible as human nature designed us to be, let’s give ourselves some grace that we’re coping in a world that can barely cope with itself. So, low-to-no self-judgement here…deal? Let’s follow three steps to die a slightly slower death…

Step 1: Identify where you’re snuffing the life out of your 4,000 Mondays, out of these 56+ vices.

Kisses of DeathPick your poison, Honey.

Remember we chatted about this in the What Needs to Die in Your Life series—here and here and here? Here are the vices we covered…

  • Having a Pleaser mentality
  • Comparison to others
  • Emotional dependency on food
  • Staying in a soul-stifling job.
  • Succumbing to “shoulds”
  • Pressing the snooze button
  • Clutter
  • Inertia/ inactivity

Here’s what one survey identified as our 10 most common “vices to quit”:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Porn
  • Nail-biting
  • Smoking weed
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • Gambling
  • Junk food/ fast food
  • Social media

Now that we’re getting warmed up, here are a bevy more vices (in no particular order):

  • Gossiping
  • Procrastinating
  • Too much TV/ screen time
  • Wrath (road rage, impulsivity)
  • Snobbery
  • Being overly judgmental
  • Being a bad listener
  • Conflict avoidant
  • Fast/ reckless driving
  • Not flossing
  • Swearing
  • Too much shopping
  • Pill popping
  • Being close-minded
  • Perfectionism
  • Being overly negative/ pessimistic
  • Staying up too late/ not enough sleep
  • Not eating enough healthy foods
  • Envy/ jealousy
  • Fidgeting
  • Excessive competitiveness
  • Greediness
  • Narcissism
  • Boastfulness
  • Eating with your mouth open
  • Obsessing
  • Avoiding the doctor/ proactive check-ups
  • Vanity
  • Inconsideration of others’ needs
  • Possessing a victim mentality
  • Lying/ fibbing
  • Cheating/ unfaithfulness
  • Being impatient
  • Prejudice
  • Ungrateful
  • Working too much
  • Wastefulness
  • Taking things for granted
  • Other?

Which vices had your name written all over them? Which one stands out the most—the one that makes you feel uncomfortable/ ashamed/ itchy/ the most dead inside?

Step 2: Evaluate the awfulness of your vice.

Consider your most pressing “kiss of death”: how much is it killing you? Is it even killing you at all, or is it more like an irritating hangnail?

If this vice is getting in the way of the normal functioning of your day, that likely warrants a special kind of intervention from a doctor/ therapist/ dietician/ professional to get you back on track. You’re worth it to take this concerted kind of vice-curbing action, friend.

If your life is still on the rails but you’re more generally bothered by this vice, what kind of toll is it really taking on you?

Maybe you’re being—wait for it—a tad too hard on yourself? Expecting a perfectly clean diet and workout program that’s built for a robot, when maybe you’re a mere human?

Or maybe you’ve been avoiding your flaw for years and you need to be harder on yourself before it turns into a fatal flaw? I have high cholesterol and avoided getting follow up blood work for a ridiculous amount of time for someone whose mom died from a premature heart attack.

Do you need to change the flaw or accept the flaw? Or maybe a bit of both?

Ask yourself these two questions and see which one resonates the most:

  • How much better would your life be if you curbed the vice?
  • How much better would your life be if you accepted the vice as a “manageable flaw” and just did it less often?

Many clients I’ve worked with beat themselves up about their flaws, and try to either get better at 100% of them at the same time or try to kick 100% of one bad habit (uh oh for both). All-or-nothing anything works for so very few of us.

Step 3: Do something…about ONE vice. Not all of your imperfections, just ONE vice.

If your vice is rather egregious (to your well-being or society at large), commit to curbing it this year. Dive in, fix it, get support, and live a life that lets you sleep at night knowing you’re being good to yourself. ONE VICE, not nine.

If you want to cut yourself some slack and still “live a little,” what if you aimed to get 50% better at ONE vice? What would that look like?

  • It seems doable to eat 50% more veggies than you do today
  • Smoking 50% less than you do today sounds pretty impactful
  • Going to bed a bit earlier three or four nights a week is more manageable than seven nights, right?
  • Gossiping 50% less than you do now seems like it would make you a way less horrible person
  • Walking 50% more minutes than you normally do each week would be undeniably fabulous
  • Having 50% less wine than your usual Magnum just sounds healthier!

You’ll need to be the judge on whether the 50% plan is right for you if your vice is a tad more problematic than biting your nails, for example. Kidnapping 50% less kids than you usually do…it doesn’t have a nice ring to it, does it? Cheating on your spouse 50% less often this year sounds…okay you see my point. The (lapsed) Catholic in me feels funny suggesting we “sin 50% less often!”, but we do what we can out there on the road to recovery, right?

So in summary, you trainwreck of a human, you…

To err is human (thanks, Alexander Pope) and we’re going to continue erring up until the day we cash in our chips. Sometimes our bad parts aren’t even so bad, as highlighted in this book by Emrys Westacott called The Virtues of our Vices.

You’re a delightful derelict and loveable (mostly) the way you are. Is there room to tidy up the edges, so you like your life more? Absolutely. Let’s not go gangbusters to Fix Ourselves (unless you are cutting and pasting a ransom note right now—you, you need to Fix Yourself Fast). Let’s pick ONE vice, and maybe do the “half better” approach. Moderation…because what good is life without a few Sour Patch Kids here and there?

Jodi Wellman

P.S.: Good news! If you preorder my upcoming book, You Only Die Once: How to Make It to the End with No Regrets, it will help you undo your various vices. (Unless you are a kidnapper; I’m not touching that one.)

P.P.S.: Let’s do Instagram together!

P.P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!


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