Your Personal Habits

Your Dress     Undergarments, socks     Hair upkeep     Oily Face     Bathing    Armpits    Bad Breath    Loud gargling/spitting    Swallowing gargled water    Open-mouth Chewing    Blowing/wiping nose    Sneezing aloud    Licking fingers to turn pages

Intruding into your personal life?

Not exactly. Your personal habits certainly are your personal affair. However, personal habits must be personable habits. Since we live in a society, we need to watch some of our habits. While there are innumerable personal habits, some of these have direct adverse bearing on persons around us. Such habits are not only in bad taste, but also could be so repulsive that people start avoiding you.

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Your Dress

a. In general

Dirty or crumpled dress can show you in poor light. Clean and un-crumpled dress would delight you and others around you. You will also command respect.

b. At home

It is an insult for visitors to your home if you present yourself in your night-dress during the day and until it is time to go to bed at night. Unfortunately numerous ladies, particularly in several parts of India, have, lately, gotten into the pathetic habit of wearing night-dress throughout the day even when they have visitors.

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Undergarments and socks

Your undergarments and your socks are in close contact with your skin in various parts of your body, hence are easily contaminated by the dead epithelial tissue, sweat, germs and other infective material that may be found there; and cause foul smell. Undergarments may also become potential carriers of several diseases including pinworm and human papilloma virus (HPV).


Change your undergarments at least once a day even if you did not feel the perspiration. Desist temptation to reuse your favourite piece of undergarment without washing it.

Stinking Socks

Stinking socks copyright Robert B Grubh IMG_7044 resizedWhen we reuse the socks without washing, these would not only harbour germs but also, especially in young people (a higher score for the males), emanate  overpowering odour that may soon make others keep a safe distance from you.

I remember a well dressed handsome young man visiting us once with his newly married wife. He removed his shoes as he came in and then sat with his socks on, next to his wife. The reek that emanated from his socks was so disgustingly overpowering in our living room that I ran for a deodorant and started spraying it everywhere, apologizing as I did, that there was ‘a dead lizard somewhere’. Within a week he visited us again, this time alone. As he started removing his shoes I ran to him and politely insisted not to bother removing the shoes. But he ignored me and displayed a new and perfectly clean pair of socks!  Evidently his brand new bride had sent him back to clean his image!

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Hair upkeep

Keep your hair clean and well groomed. As for whether to use shampoo or what kind of shampoo to use for cleaning your hair, it is for you to make a wise decision based on your doctor’s advice.

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Oily Face

Oiliness is natural and not a disease. Healthy skin does cause oiliness. However, excess of it on the face can appear uncomely. Therefore you can wipe off oiliness on your face and forehead with a clean dry handkerchief or tissue paper.

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Bathing or taking a shower is a must in the morning, and if possible in the afternoon/evening before going out shopping or visiting people. Bathing is  necessary not only for cleaning  your body (removing sweat, accumulated dirt, disintegrating dead cells of the skin and germs) but also for removing disagreeable body odour. Substituting bathing with deodorants would only aggravate the body odour.

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Keep your armpits clean. Deodorants are not a substitute for cleanliness. The smell of the deodorant in a dirty armpit can be highly nauseating. 

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Bad Breath or Halitosis

The common reason for repulsive mouth odour has to do with cleanliness of the mouth. Even if you have brushed your teeth in the morning, the mouth starts getting foul smell by midday; hence it is important to brush your teeth again (or use a good mouthwash) around this time, if you are working with people. If you are at home, you should do so at least before you go out in the afternoon/evening. Mouthwash could be used during the day instead of brushing. However, brushing your teeth with toothpaste is a must in the morning and at night before going to sleep, in order to get rid of accumulated food particles that would damage your teeth through bacterial action overnight.

The second reason for bad breath is what you eat. What has gone inside your stomach will not cause bad breath because the epiglottis does not allow emission of stomach gases except when you belch. However, the ‘odorous’ items which you eat, such as garlic and onions, can stick to your teeth, gums, tongue and throat and cause foul smell when you speak or sing. Brushing with toothpaste and gargling to flush out the particles that are invariably lodged in the throat after food, will effectively prevent bad breath in such cases and save you from embarrassment.

The third reason for bad breath is smoking. Smokers can be truly annoying with their offensive breath. Their bad breath comes from the lungs.

Other reasons include problems related to teeth and gums, alimentary canal, and the respiratory tract. So if you have cleared the first three reasons and still have bad breath you may need to consult your doctor.

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Loud gargling/Noisy spitting

Avoid noisy gargling and spitting in the hearing of others. There is nothing more to say about it.

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Swallowing gargled water

Some individuals display this loathsome habit right at the dining table while others are still eating. When they finish with their food, these people take water into the mouth and rinse it loudly with closed mouth and then swallow it all. I found this appalling habit in at least three educated adults with no close genetic or cultural affinity.


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Open-mouth chewing

Chewing food while keeping the mouth open is a repulsive personal habit. The noise issuing forth from the mouth and the sight of food items in the mouth are not particularly appealing to most of us. Talking while food is in the mouth is equally undesirable. In addition you might even choke over the food.

If you are habituated to keeping your mouth open while chewing,  please take conscious effort to change this habit. If you cannot change this habit, it would be better that you eat alone.

Another undesirable habit at the table is bringing your plate to your mouth in order to gulp down some groovy gravy that is left on your plate. If you must, use a spoon, or just leave it. 

Licking gravy off the fingers, too, is in bad taste.

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Blowing/wiping Nose

Blowing your nose

If you have a clogged nose, excuse yourself away from the people and return. Make sure to wash your hands if you have soiled them in the process because you are likely to shake hands with others or touch articles that may come in contact with others. You may have a hidden (or known) respiratory illness that is contagious!

Wiping your nose

When I was a kid the parents reminded us that only barbarians wiped their nose with the hand. We were taught to use handkerchief to wipe it or go and wash it before drying with a towel (we had no tissue paper those days). In fact in many schools in India, the parents are expected to pin a clean handkerchief on to the uniform of the nursery buds so that they do not lose it.

However, I was horrified to see, when I stepped into the US the first time, that many including adults just slipped the palm or the back of the hand over the runny nose! That certainly is not progress in the right direction! It is in bad taste and It certainly is not hygienic. Click here to read what the Chairman of the National Collegiate Wrestling Rules Committee (USA) said in 1936 about this and other similar unpleasant habits.

Imagine a person with a respiratory infection (it could be a simple flu or worse) wiping his nose with his hand and later shaking hands with you! That is what you do to others when you wipe your nose with your hands.

But you can make a difference. Start the handkerchief habit. It is reusable, hence pro-environment, too. A handkerchief also comes to your help when you do not want to scare those around you when you have an imminent uncontrollable sneeze (see below).

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Sneezing aloud

By William K. L. Dickson for Edison lab. [Public domain], Wiki Commons

By William K. L. Dickson for Edison lab. [Public domain], Wiki Commons

Sneezing is a sudden expulsion of air from the lungs through the mouth. It is a natural response to some irritation in the nasal passage. Usually sneezing is normal, but it can also come as part of a respiratory affection. 

An interesting fact is that sneezing does not actually come with sound effects from the vocal cords. Babies do not use sound effects to embellish sneezing as most grown ups do. Watch how babies sneeze. Born hearing challenged people, too, do not add vocalization to sneezing.

In the western custom people often say ‘Bless you’ when someone sneezes. Normally it is the force of habit, and they may not mean to ‘bless you’ every time they utter it. But when the sneeze sounds like the bark of a dog or trumpeting of an elephant, I wouldn’t be surprised if they meant the opposite! Generally speaking, it is disgusting to hear someone sneezing in a most uncomely manner. It is bad manners and gives a poor impression of you.

I want to control it but I do not know how.”

You are already halfway to getting rid of it, now that you have acknowledged your shortcoming. Some people may never realise that their sneezing is in bad taste. For them the cure is remote. So, you are welcome to read further. You can observe one of the following methods and see which one is more manageable for you. There will be some initial difficulty, but you will overcome. Your age is not an impediment as long as your mind remains young and you are willing to learn and improve along life’s journey.

Method i. Close your mouth with a thick handkerchief. In case you had no handkerchief at that time, you should at least fully cover your mouth with your hands.

Method ii. Clench your teeth and leave the lips loose so the air will go out freely but without the loud vocal accompaniment.

Method iii. Consciously delete the sound effect from your sneeze. As we said earlier, babies do not add vocalization to their sneezing. Neither do the born hearing challenged people. You will succeed after a few tries. And sure, you will make yourself more personable.

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Licking fingers to turn pages

Unfortunately this disgusting habit of licking one’s finger to turn pages is not dying out with the older generation. Soaking the tip of the finger with saliva and using it as a grip to hold the edge of the paper to turn it over might appear to be a great idea. But did you realize that you are soiling every single page you turn, with your saliva? If you have a hidden (or known) respiratory or oral illness that is contagious, you are likely to spread it to others in this manner. Some bacteria may die on prolonged drying, but some remain.

You may also read what Beachbaby012 and ‘The Equalist’ say for additional input on this unhygienic habit. Make it a point to click here if you wish to hear some interesting reactions from common people when they come across someone who licks the pages.

Even if you have a clinically clean mouth so you may not spread any infection to others at this time, you could end up being one of the victims of the licking habit of others. If you are one of those used to licking the pages (via your fingers of course), change the habit. If you are a parent or a guardian, do teach your wards the correct way to turn pages. How? See below.

Correct way to turn pages

Use your index finger to separate and raise the top right end of the page and then use your next finger to turn the page over. You will find this method not only easy to separate and turn pages, but also ensure that the pages are not crumpled in the process.

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