Why is it that some facets of human behavior is free from theory of diminishing marginal utility‘, though this theory is, the rule governing
basic human conduct that can explain in full, the process of deriving and enhancing satisfaction? And why such a phenomenon occurs, that too, exclusively in the realm of bad habits?
I think one can safely say that we resort to various actions or activities to satisfy each of our needs, and a few among these happening to be termed as bad habits and a few others, the opposite, is only a temporal view which is susceptible to change. Shouldn‘t the pattern of deriving contentment be the same, whether we speak of good habits or the bad ones?
Take our enjoyments. All of them come under the purview of this theory. We cannot continue with the same form of enjoyment for indefinite periods of time. If we like some thing, say ice cream, the first cup of which provides us with 100 units of happiness. The next cup shall be able to provide only 80 units of happiness, next, even less and so on till we get ‗fed up‘ of ice cream. The same is true for all matters of personal choice, mode of entertainment, habit or routine. For example, if we are in the habit of drinking tea every morning, we ourselves shall find an excuse for a change once in a while.
But this does not seem to apply for anything we are hooked on to. Whether it is some habits like smoking (a chain smoker), drinking (a habitual drinker), reading (a voracious reader), or anything we enjoy in its extremes, the state of ‗being fed up‘ does not occur. Why?
That brings us to the fundamentals of habits. Everything good we do, is for meeting some demand, be it physical needs of the body or intellectual needs of the mind or both. Some of these may also be termed as spiritual needs. Whereas, what we consider as bad habits does not fall within the above discussion. If bad habit was intended to satisfy a need, the reduction in marginal utility as discussed above would have taken place, bringing it to a natural stop. That doesn‘t happen. The very existence of elaborate and widespread arrangements for de-addiction, which can be seen in all societies, is enough to prove this point.
What then is a bad habit? What do bad habits do? Certainly none of our needs is being satisfied by a bad habit. Bad habits in fact are only certain, mainly repetitive, activities that we continue to be busy with, to prevent something else from occupying us. As the chosen activity does not satisfy any of the human needs, no cap occurs to its effectiveness due to diminishing marginal utility‘, and can continue to block those inconvenient thoughts from occupying our mind. As mentioned earlier, avoidance of such thoughts is of paramount importance in maintaining a comfortable state of existence, especially for the male. The widely observed peculiarity, a greater incidence of bad habits among the male of our species, is a silent proof of this. This can now be explained easily. They have more of ‗inconvenient thoughts‘, to escape from.