“The secret to permanently breaking any bad habit is to love something greater than the habit.” – Brynt Mcgill
The focus of our spiritual activities is to serve the lord and get a taste of this higher pleasure. Then automatically one could give up lower tastes and bad habits. Along with our endeavor to abandon the undesirable habits, if we also seek to engage in positive habits, we’d transcend the petty pushing of the mind for lower tastes.
A mother shared how she got her three year old son to get rid of his thumb sucking habit. She just brought him a pair of shorts that was a little loose. As soon as he wore them, it would slip off. He’d instinctively grab his shorts when family members seeing him with pants down, would joke, “Shame, shame!” The boy’s hands were on his shorts all the time; the thumb moved from the mouth to his shorts. Slowly as the child grew, the habit was gone.
Spiritual seers of the past have done a similar exercise for us. They have given us so many rich engagements that one’s mind has enough opportunities to get positively absorbed. His mind is busy with the higher taste, and he has no time for the lower pleasures that this world could offer. Eventually it’s the higher taste alone that would help us. The founder of the scouts movement, Robert Powell, put it eloquently, “Correcting bad habits cannot be done by forbidding or punishment.” The mother had to offer a higher job for the child. We too need to give our minds something higher than mere ‘no’s’ or harsh discipline; we need a taste.
Many people in this world are unfortunate; they allow their minds to seek pleasure in perishable things. And some even thrive on others’ misery. They get to feel relative happiness because their pleasure is dependent on someone else’s suffering. An umbrella seller may feel happy if it rains while a vegetable seller wishes it’s bright and sunny. If a doctor says his business is doing well and he’s happy about it, it means many are falling sick! We don’t even realize how, but we are victims of consistent negative thinking and seeking of lower pleasures. The famous American motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar quipped, “All bad habits start slowly and gradually and before you know you have the habit, the habit has you.”
As we do our daily duties, a spiritualist seeks happiness beyond the dualities of this world. We focus on the positive and spiritual. As a wise person remarked, “The only way to eliminate bad habits is to replace them with good ones.”