The Power Of Habits

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Prov. 22:6.

In my previous post, I quoted Confucius saying that the nature of men is always the same. It is their habits that separate them. This had me thinking that habits must be very powerful if they can separate our nature.

Good habits are not acquired simply by making good resolves, though the thought must precede the action. We develop good habits in the workshop of our daily lives. Great moments of test and trial do not build character, they simply display it. It is the often uneventful, commonplace routine of daily life that fashion the habits that direct our lives and form our character. Our habits are acquired by practice.

Good habits are not acquired simply by making good resolves, though the thought must precede the action. Click To Tweet

King Solomon taught, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We may not always know what lies ahead, but we find strength and safety in good conduct. We need to organize our lives according to good principles and chart the right course as we journey in life.

Through life, we learn that good character-building habits mean everything. It is by such behaviour that we harness the real substance and value of life. The way we live outweigh any words we may profess to follow. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Man’s destined purpose is to conquer all habits, to overcome the evil in him and to restore good to its rightful place.” This echoes the importance or power of our habits.

Bad habits are a reflection of our thoughts and personalities, our behaviour and conduct. They are degrading to the choice qualities which are our God-given endowments of faith, honesty, integrity, and uprightness. This is where good habits begin. Someone has observed, “When a man boasts of his bad habits, you may rest assured they are the best he has.”

Habits are subject to change and improvement. Our environment and circumstances help in this process which means it is important to be in the right place. Our great challenge is to learn how to control ourselves. We must learn for ourselves and act for ourselves, being careful not to follow those doing wrong. Some may ask who sets the bar? When you engage in a bad habit, you know your habit is bad. You are just not willing to agree because you do not want to change it.

An ancient proverb states that good habits result from resisting temptation. Such resistance often takes the form of a persevering struggle. When bad habits become a part of our lives we need more than a desire to overcome them, we must ACT.
We should become so involved in acquiring good quality traits and participating in character-building activities that there is no time to engage in anything worthless or harmful. Our habits should be those that make us susceptible to growth and development.

The strengths that enable us to set aside the urge to do wrong are self-mastery, self-control, and self-discipline. It is a wonderful feeling to conquer wrong practices and to be free and unencumbered from their detrimental effects. When we have conquered our bad habits and replaced them with good ones, living as we should, then we are on our way to a fulfilled life.

Self-mastery, self-control, and self-discipline are required strengths that enable us to set aside the urge to do wrong. Click To Tweet

Ernest L. Wilkinson, speaking to the students of Brigham Young University, said: “Character … is not something to be obtained by ease and indolence or being socially agreeable. It cannot be acquired by absorption or by proxy or on the auction block. It is a reward derived from honest toil in overcoming difficulties. We grow by mastering tasks which others consider impossible.”

The right behaviour implies a strict adherence to moral principles and honesty of purpose. We need to ask ourselves, “Are my usual thoughts and present actions worthy of a good life? Am I setting my sights on positive goals and working to obtain them?” Anything short of our best isn’t good enough.