“Your habits can be your friends or your enemies; they can help you or hurt you.” ~ Dr. Maxwell Maltz, The Magic Power of Self-Image Psychology …
We all have our habits, some of them good, some of them bad. And while those habits that we do regularly that are helpful and constructive–things that make life a bit easier and richer–often contribute to the positive and uplifting in the world, those habits that we do regularly that hurt us and hurt others will do the opposite–contributing to the negative in the world and helping to perpetuate depression, unhappiness, suffering, and misery. Thereby, our habits often determine the balance of good versus bad in our lives and in the world around us; habits that are truly decided by us and our choices.
Our habits, for the most part, are something we simply start doing because they are easy or fulfill a perceived need, and we generally continue doing them because they remain easy or continue to fulfill those needs. But when we do not choose our habits, we relegate a great portion of our control over whether or not many of our experiences in life will be positive or negative. Sitting around and watching television all day might seem enjoyable and easy to do, but doing so might have many negative impacts on our health–physical health through lack of movement and activity, intellectual health through neglect of mental stimulation and cognitive development, spiritual health through neglect of spending time with our eternal self in peace, solitude, prayer, or meditation, and emotional health through neglect of our relationships and feelings.
Of course, we should not feel that improving upon our habits must require great changes or have a dramatic impact. In fact, habits tend to be those things that we do without thinking about them, like picking up litter when we pass it, smiling and being cheerful to those we are talking to, sharing compliments with our family and friends, offering assistance to someone in need, or eating healthy and exercising regularly.
If we want our habits to build us up instead of causing us harm–to make our lives richer and contribute to the world instead of making it poorer and taking from it–then we have to be in control of our habits. This requires us to be aware of our bad habits so that we can remove them, as well as choosing to actively foster healthy habits that become our friends and not our enemies–that help our lives and not sabotage them.
Adopt a habit today that will result in adding to the positive in the world.
Questions to consider:
Where do most of your habits come from? How did they start?
Why do we so often just allow habits to continue without ever considering whether they’re our friends or our enemies?
How might we go about starting new and positive habits in our lives?
For further thought:
“Know that every single bad habit of yours is a thorn bush: many a time, after all, have its thorns pierced your foot. Many a time have you been wounded by your own evil habits.” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi, The Masnavi