OUR HABITS – GOOD & BAD
Whence we’re born
Our mind-slate just is clean
Except for some instinctive habits
Which are embedded by our Creator
Thence there is influence of our mother
And other nears and dears
Learn the language and how best to kindle love and affection
From our dear parents
Who transfer family value system held dear
Followed in the family as a tradition.
Thence the environs we grow leaves its indelible impression
Thence the role of peer group becomes apparent
Strong influence on our habits
Comes from teachers who teach us
Our formal and informal institutions
Insulate our positive habits
And keep us away from the ill-influences
Which may make a surprise entrance
Some habits are too good
Some are too bad
It depends on our free will and choice
Which ones to choose
After seeing the implications
Which each one of these on our existence.
Literally a habit is an established tendency to proceed after frequent repetition for a period of time or an acquired mode of behavior which is embedded in our behavior and thereafter character. This becomes a pattern and acted upon just involuntarily. There are two kinds of habits, good habits and not so good habits. The habits which teach us persistence to work hard with sincerity and with good intentions for the fructification of the task at hand are good habits. These habits are positive ones and help us in our growth and development. The habit of respecting others, being regular and punctual, staying cool even after intense provocation, feeling pain when others are in pain, being empathetic to needs of others etc. Then there is innate or instinctive habits or behavior which are inherent – these could be termed as almost fixed action. This is for all the living organisms and in humans it is distinctive due to innate biological factors. These habits too could be refined through experimentation, repetition and persistence. Habits of drinking, smoking, intake of drugs once developed are hard to eliminate. It is in our own interest not to let these bad take root in our system or otherwise our life would be miserable. The parents, elders in the family and the school have a role in this – to sensitize the younger generation about the ill-effects of these. I know how my elder brother pulled me up when he saw me smoking when I was studying in 8th standard. He made me realize the ill-effects of smoking on health and that was the last time I smoked – FIRST & LAST TIME.
It has been seen that sometimes we become the prisoners of our habits. For example, we must have observed how some of us get angry as a matter of habit. We do not want to pick up a fight with others, but as a habit we do so or we become argumentative on a silly pretext knowing fully well that nobody has ever has won a fruitless argument. This goes to show that we are lured by our habits to commit cardinal mistakes which we actually should not.
It is undisputed fact that we are free, have democratic rights of freedom of expression but that hardly means that we have license to abuse others the way we want just to spite others in front of others and that too as a matter of habit. Saying or doing what we want freely just to browbeat others and lower the dignity of others hardly is justified by any stretch of imagination. We should behave in the manner, the way we want us to be behaved. We are the social animals and have to live in the society, therefore, it is in the fitness of things to behave in consonance with the social-etiquette and fair-play. To be slave to our habits and misbehave with others, puts us in negative light in front of others. If we are slave to our habits, then we are undoing our Karmic credit that we have earned over a period of time.
Now coming to the question of what makes the people to act differently. It partly depends on our culture and tradition, the situation at home, the environment we are brought up, , the language we speak, etc.
OUR DOMESTIC ENVIRONMENT
If we are brought up in a congenial atmosphere where there is no family strife, there is amity and understanding between the members of the family, where everybody is cared for and the elders in the family transfer their culture and traditions to their younger generations. In the atmosphere of concord in the family, the descendants or children learn good etiquette, habits, attitudes etc.
ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH WE LIVE
We are aware, how much the environment in which we are brought up influences us. If we live in the neighborhood where on every other day there is fight between the neighbor, nobody cares for others well-being, the people living do not live in harmony, when somebody faces any problem, nobody from the neighborhood comes to the succor etc. In this environment of hate and disharmony, the children cannot imbibe good habits and are spoiled ones. Then there is also a possibility of developing a language full of abuses, there is an environment of exploitation where nobody cares others. What the children who are impressionable could learn from such an environment?
INFLUENCE OF PEER GROUP
Our family has far reaching affect as far as cultivating good habits are concerned but the peer group with which our children associate – the use of language, attitudes, habits have immense affect on our children because in the company of good friends, our children too grow up with pleasant disposition/temperament, manners, sound thoughts and actions.
THE INFLUENCE OF FORMAL AND INFORMAL INSTITUTIONS
The school/college/university and other formal institutions do have influence on the formation of our habits. The teachers who are themselves have good habits exhort their students to promote high-quality habits and attitudes. Then our informal institutions like play ground, picnic/excursion in groups, debates, declamations etc. too help in influencing our habits, attitude and thus molding our character. The role played by good Gurus, preachers, who explain us about different scriptures in temples, mosques, churches, etc. too is immense in influencing our habits and attitudes.
OUR NATIONALITY TOO INFLUENCES OUR HABITS
It is also observed that a child brought up in western environment will have different habits and attitudes according to the situations and conditions he/she is brought up and a child brought up in eastern culture and environment will definitely have difference. But finer points in all the cultures of the world are certainly there and our children should learn points which are wisdom guided and not based on conventions.
It is a sad commentary that we waste most of our time in mollycoddling our habits in order to placate our egocentric tendencies. In real sense, we do not get anything tangible out of this irrational act. Being prisoners of our habit, we just perform an act without introspecting or without introspecting the result of our action. Both emotional and physical remedies should be explored in order to alleviate the problem and not become an emotional fool.
Actually habit means an act which we repeat for a period of time. When we persistently pursue a goal and work hard to achieve it, it is a good habit. This way, we can change or exercise habit control measures like resolving not to resort to such bad habits by our sincere but resolute efforts. The habit which inhibits or limits our growth should better be annulled. But how best to remove the habit, it is must that we first of all introspect how we developed the limiting habits and then adopt measures to remove those bottlenecks.
There are habits which when developed are difficult to be left. These habits are very dangerous. These habits are like intake of drugs, excessive drinking, smoking, etc. These habits taint our character. It is easier to develop these bad habits but difficult to leave when these habits are developed because of withdrawal effect – craving remains for a long time for these things. A medical or psychosomatic help may help to alleviate the problem slowly but surely but it is important to have internal resolve to eradicate these habits. Then there are habits which are behavioral in nature like to get angry, use of intemperate language, feeling envious or jealous on others’ wellbeing, lust for material possession etc.
Essentially, it is in the fitness of things to conclude that we get entangled in bad habits very easily but it take much time and energy to remove or to do away with those bad habits. Instead we should cultivate good habits of persistently working tirelessly in order to realize our mission
ENDEAVOR SHOULD BE MADE CONDUCIVE TO RID OURSELVES FROM THE SLAVERY OF ANY HABIT
When we become slave to a particular habit then it is problematic not only for the growth and development of good habit. If have the habit of smoking, we should try to get rid of this habit as fast as it is possible since it is bad for our health. Then habit of taking balanced diet. People may say, it is their habit to take more non-veg diet, although it may not be good for them. Worst still, there are people who are in the habit of drinking, taking sweets even with diabetic conditions? We cannot press others to listen to our sermons but let them follow their habits as their own wisdom dictates. Realization may dawn on them to learn good habits since ‘TIME’ factors hugely in refining our habits.
It is not that once we have inculcated a bad habit, it is be all and end all. This bad habit could be eliminated if we care to do so. But a wishful thinking will not do. We’ve to change our thinking, the way we treat others, the way we talk with others, the way we conduct with others, the way we want the others should behave with us, etc. It should be remembered that habit is formed very easily, but it takes a fair amount of time to set right a bad habit which is formed after sometime. We must have come across people who are in the habit of resorting to indulging in bad habits, even after reminding them not to do so but it has become a part of their psyche to act in a manner not in congruence with the ethical and moral standpoints. Their actions and their habits go hand in hand.