Common Vices that Aren’t so Bad After All

Find out which bad habits might actually be good for you in the long run-in moderation, of course.

A version of this article originally appeared on

You swore off coffee-then caved when you hit a particularly stressful deadline. You don't eat any chocolate anymore-unless there's no one around to see you. We took a deeper look into ten bad-habits-that-aren't. Turns out all these little things you may have been berating yourself for can actually benefit your health, your money, and your motivation.

Anna WilliamsAnna Williams
1. Splurging
Study after study shows that money doesn't make us happy. We'll make an addendum: Money doesn't bring you lasting happiness, but there's no denying the rush of a splurge.

Research shows that our increase in happiness isn't proportional to the money we spend, so treating yourself to a $50 blouse may actually bring you less total happiness than spending the same money on a small accessory every week or two. After the initial wave of delight, we adjust to our new situation very quickly each time we get something we want, whether it's big or small. Unfortunately, that first rush of euphoria is short-lived. As a result, little, frequent splurges give us those bursts of happiness over and over.

That's why buying things you enjoy can actually be good for your money. The key is to spend in a premeditated, controlled way. For example, you might choose to reward yourself for staying on budget by buying fresh flowers at the end of the month, which will keep you motivated to stay the course.

Also See: If You Had an Extra $100, What Would You Spend It On?

2. Drinking Caffeine
No one is saying that you should drain the coffeepot twice over before 10 a.m., but research shows that a reasonable amount of coffee does you more good than harm. Not only is coffee no longer associated with heart disease and stroke, but it also has antioxidants. It's been shown to fight Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer.

New research published in The Archives of Internal Medicine also found that women who drank two to three cups of coffee daily had a 15 percent lower risk of depression than those who didn't, as the coffee helped regulate their moods.

If coffee isn't your thing, other caffeine sources are just as good. Various studies have shown that caffeine increases memory, detoxes the liver, increases stamina during exercise and fights Alzheimer's. As with all of these habits, make sure not to get carried away-more than four cups per day can have adverse health effects like insomnia, irritability and restlessness.

Also See: 7 Buzz-Worthy Coffees

3. Zoning Out
Staring into the distance at the team meeting doesn't exactly impress your boss. But that dreaminess may actually be associated with good "working memory." A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that people with more working memory have a greater tendency to drift off when the task at hand doesn't use all of their attention.

Working memory is your ability to remember many different things at once: the e-mails you need to send, the errands you want to run after work, the fact that the dog walker isn't coming tomorrow. Working memory accounts for that experience of "being on autopilot," thinking of one thing while doing another-like commuting all the way home and not remembering the trip. It's also been associated with measures of intelligence such as IQ and reading comprehension.

So, the next time your colleague pokes you with a pencil to bring you down to earth, remind her that you're just demonstrating your intelligence.

Also See: Tricks to Improve Your Memory

4. Chocolate
Something tells us we might not have to work too hard to convince you of this one. But in case you're still resisting your co-worker's snack drawer, we'll tell you that The Daily Beast compiled 11 different research-supported reasons that chocolate-especially dark chocolate-benefits your health. Here are some of the standouts:

-Eating 45 grams (about two bars) or more of chocolate per week reduces your risk of stroke, thanks to the dessert's antioxidants.

-One weekly serving of chocolate prevents blood clots.

-A compound found in chocolate may prevent the growth of cancerous cells. It can lengthen your life: The oldest woman on record lived 122 years and ate 2.5 pounds of chocolate per week.

Also See: Best Chocolate Recipes and Tips

5. Being Lazy About Your Money
Setting up automatic payment for your bills can make you feel lazy, like you aren't staying on top of every dollar in the way you should. But we actually recommend automatic payments for fixed expenses (and fixed expenses only) like rent or savings contributions. By bypassing your checking account, you don't see that money and aren't tempted to spend it somewhere else. Plus, there's less risk of forgetting your cell phone bill is due on the 15th of the month.

There are a few caveats: If you use auto bill pay, make sure you have enough money in your account ahead of time to keep from overdrawing. If you don't have a lot of extra cash and have to rush to deposit your paycheck before you can pay your bills, don't use auto bill pay-the risk of overdraft isn't worth it!

Also See: How To: Organize Bills

Click to see 5 more vices that aren't so bad after all!

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