A weekly column on human psychology, youth & leadership with Dr. Debilal Mishra
Are you aware of the power of your habits? Your habits certainly can make you and break you depending on their natures. Today we will be discussing some questions relating to our habits in the column Finding Hope with DLM.
Know what your habits can do!
Your habits are your everything. They determine your existence. A habit can influence the patterns of thinking; and more importantly, it can cause and transform the character. The quality of the life is largely controlled by the quality of the habits. According to Sean Covey, “Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do.” Our habits ultimately become the instruments of our nature; and our nature is responsible for our growth as individuals. That is to say, we think and become according as the habits we develop over a period of time. In this context Aristotle once said: “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.” In order to change our life, we need to embrace certain life-changing habits. We can never change our life in a desired manner without changing our daily routine as part of our habits. As John C. Maxwell has put it, “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
How can one change the bad habits?
For this one needs to get hold of the inner strengths. The realization plays a crucial role. Our habits are usually formed around things we love. We should learn to dislike things that are not good for our true growth and love the ones that help us reach our goals. Moreover, we have to control our thoughts. According to Swami Vivekananda, “He conquers all who conquers self.” Self-control holds the key. It’s only by practicing an effective self-control that we can change the bad habits and create the good ones. A positive mind always looks for exploration whereas a negative mind looks for excuses. We need to control the mind in a positive way. Self-belief is quite instrumental in the process. It’s only when we believe that we do; and it’s only when we do that we achieve. What’s more, in order to succeed we must have the strength to overcome our own weaknesses.
What it takes to sustain a good or positive habit?
We need to remember that the most vital thing in our life is our effort; and our sincerity is what makes it meaningful. A conscious detachment from things not good for our life must be followed with some dedication and commitment. One needs to be earnest in their efforts. Purity, passion, patience and perseverance can lead someone to the realm of success and bliss. Here one story that Swami Vivekananda used to tell his disciples can be mentioned. Narada was a great Yogi. He used to travel everywhere. One day Narada was passing through a forest, and saw a man who had been meditating until the white ants had built a huge mound round his body — so long had he been sitting in that position. He said to Narada, “where are you going? ” Narada replied, ‘I am going to heaven’. “Then ask God when He will be merciful to me; when I shall attain freedom.” Further on Narada saw another man. He was jumping about, singing and dancing, and said, “Oh Narada, where are you going? ” His voice and his gestures were wild. Narada said, “I am going to heaven”. “Then ask when I shall be free”. Narada went on.
In the course of time he came again by the same road, and there was the man who had been meditating with the ant-hill round him. He said, “Oh Narada, did you ask the Lord about me? ” “Oh, Yes”. “What did he say? ” “The Lord told me that you would attain freedom in four more births”. Then the man began to weep and wail, and said, “I have meditated until an ant-hill has grown around me, and I have four more births yet! ” Narada went to the other man. “Did you ask my question? ” “Oh, yes. Do you see this tamarind tree? I have to tell you that as many leaves as there are on that tree, so many times, you shall be born, and then you shall attain freedom. ” The man began to dance for joy, and said, “I shall have freedom after such a short time! ” A voice came, “My child, you will have freedom this minute. ” That was the reward of his perseverance. He was ready to work through all those births, nothing discouraged him. But the first man felt that even four more births were too long. Only perseverance like that of the man who was willing to wait aeons brings about the highest result.
Is controlling the thoughts possible?
Nothing is impossible if there is a tremendous character within. Mukti is easy of attainment only to the hero — but not to cowards. According to the Gita, ‘by renunciation and by practice can the mind be brought under control.’ It’s only by doing good things constantly that we can better ourselves. The will and character to continue matters. The difference between failure and success, challenge and possibility is the nature of our thoughts. Therefore we must develop a habit of exploring our own positivity irrespective of all circumstances.