Wikipedia says that a vice is any practice, conduct or habit that is considered a fault, a defect, an illness or a bad habit. I am sure that many of you have decided to quit a bad habit more than once. Smoking, drinking a lot of alcohol or overeating are among the most common, along with other vices that are very hard to give up and are better or worse seen by society, such as gambling, drugs, addiction to shopping, excessive work, compulsive sex, etc

When you dramatically stop drinking alcohol, for example, you come across unexpected situations like this:

– What? Are you going to drink only water? But have something with me, for God’s sake.
– I am quitting drinking and I prefer not to order alcohol.
– Come on, just one, for us. You don’t want me to feel bad drinking alone, do you?

Or when we would like to eat less in those long and copious meetings:

– But if you haven’t eaten anything, look at all that is left on the plate, didn’t you like the food?
– Sorry, it was a lot and I’m full. It was delicious.
– It is not right to leave food on the plate, don’t do this. Also, now comes a great dessert.

Learning to say no to many of the good ideas of others, to be assertive and remain firm in our convictions seems a complex task but not impossible. Our will power and the cells of our brain are nourished and strengthened with the exercise of their faculties. They are like a muscle, as we excercise them, they become stronger.

Habits and social relationships are part of our nature, they made us outlast other species hundreds of thousands of years ago and, in general, we can affirm that they are totally necessary for our physical and mental health. Not hugging, not kissing, and not being physically close to loved ones are unnatural actions, and I understand the difficulty of not doing certain things now that confinement is over. We have to continue with our lives and social relations are the pillar of our society.

“The best advice for all audiences, today, is to take a test when in doubt”

All this logic of “not doing something for love” has been spread by active and passive throughout the pandemic with the message that  if we do love someone very much, we must keep our distance and avoid touching them, giving them a hug or kissing them. All this great initial willpower is gradually weakening, at the same rate that outbreaks of the coronavirus are beginning to appear among family and friends, especially. It is good to remember and keep in mind that when we have a family gathering or a celebration with friends, we must try to suppress a few habits, even if it seems almost impossible:

1- We should avoid hugging, kissing, and physically greeting each other. Both at meetings and at farewells. When greeting each other it seems easy, but 5 hours later and with the same number of driks, the will softens when saying goodbye. Whoever has not experienced it several times, raise your hand.

2-Try to wear a mask when we cannot maintain a certain safety distance outside and whenever possible inside a closed space. I suppose that it would have been necessary to have a half Asian upbringing to be able to live with a mask put on quite naturally: in any situation, in general and with friends and family, especially. It seems a lot to ask with the closest ones.

3- Keep the safety distance, especially with family or friends who are more at risk of suffering COVID-19 severely. Complex task to execute, unless there is a quick meeting and everyone is sitting two meters apart; if not, the trail that the natural movement of people would leave in any regular friendly gathering will be very similar to that left by ants in their anthill or bees in their hive. Imagine.

4- Clean your hands very well with hydroalcoholic gel or wash them with soap both when entering the house of our hosts and “frequently”. I think we all have already more than passed this requirement. There must be something nice about trying hydroalcoholic gels wherever we go. Some smell exactly the same as the bad alcohol that is still served in some bars. I think this new habit is here to stay.

5- Meet in an open space, preferably. If we meet at home, we will have to think about the capacity according to the space and if we are in a closed space, we will try to have a lot of ventilation and avoid air conditioning and fans. Again, difficult, especially in summer for those who live in a small space facing west or in winter for those who dare to gather on the balcony of their house. No further comments.

And I wonder: if these tips that we hear everywhere are so difficult to follow, who would be able to follow them firmly? What kind of material are this people made from who can say no to each of these five guidelines? It seems an unlikely task that someone has that great muscle of will necessary to be so determined during the time that social gatherings last in our country. And although we are all exposed, I think that only those who have no other option would be able to do it: the most apprehensive and those who, a priori, are truly at risk.

The best advice for all audiences, today, is to get tested in case of doubt, whether before visiting loved ones, going to and from vacation or when you have met with many people and run certain risks, whatever it takes. Surely everyone will appreciate it.

And for people who are most at risk, the previous five are not advice but commandments.

Photographs: Morning Brew, Adam Niescioruk, Antenna.

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