HABIT –A Good Servant but a Bad Master
“Man’s life work is a master piece or a shame as each little habit has been perfectly or carelessly formed. A canvas painted by a Van Gangh fetches millions. One by a slob not even a hundred.” —John Ruskin
A habit is like a tree grown crouched. One cannot go to orchard and take hold of a tree grown such and straighten it and say now get straight and make it obey him. When one is young, he can acquire good or bad habits. One starts doing certain acts for the sake of pleasure, for the sake of fun and if one is doing a particular act at regular or irregular intervals, one is starts enjoying it and starts feeling the necessity of doing it again, at that particular time and it gradually takes a form of a habit.
Every chain smoker or a habitual drunkard never starts smoking or drinking as a habit. He simply begins with such an act for the sake of company or for the curiosity of taste, or for the sake of fun in the company of his friends or otherwise and he starts smoking or drinking alcohol. Now and then and afterwards, he consumes it often, and gradually it becomes his necessity and then the habit is formed. Habit is cultivated slowly and gradually. Habit is nothing but a slow and gradual intake of something, performance of some act, etc and when it becomes a necessity, it is called a habit.
We can observe many people, who have unwarranted habit of utterance, while walking, habit of eye winking while talking, habit of strange gestures during conversation, using filthy or abusive language in friendly talks and so on. We find people applying their hand at the nose, at the ear, at the chin, or moving fingers or legs while thinking, talking in general. A strange thing about such people is that they are not aware of their actions in the beginning and at a later stage the habit is formed.
Some people have good habits of punctuality, accuracy, cleanliness and waking up early in the morning. Habits are also inherited from parents, surroundings, company, etc. Generally, the family environment plays important role in forming a good or a bad habit. Good habits are the foundation of success of many, great men, and bad habits are the cause of the ruin of many great empires.
Gandhiji had good habits of rising early, doing his own work, keeping cleanliness around him, etc. Mr. Walter Scott, the famous novelist of Scotland, who started as an ordinary clerk, attained the great heights of eminence by dint of his sheer diligence and habit of waking up by five o’clock and completing the tasks of the day up to ten o’clock. A well known thinker says, “The manner in which I do every small thing is of very great consequences, because it is just in these trifling things that I am forming my regular habits.”
It is the simplest thing in the world to drift down the stream into bad company, into the bar, just a little beer, just a little gambling, just a little bad company, just a little killing of time, and just this or that gradually make you feel the need of it and the habit is formed.
We overlook the basis of habit. Every repetition of an act makes us more likely to perform that act and in the wonderful body mechanism, a tendency of perpetual repetition, becomes a habit. ‘Habit’ of any kind is not a better proposition. It may look odd to believe in the above statement, but here habit means you are bound to do the act, otherwise you feel too uneasy to survive. Habit of early rising and ‘Habit’ of early sleeping are termed as the best habits, but some time these best habits become a cause of tension. Habit of reading newspaper is also a good habit, but if due to some reason you couldn’t get the newspaper, you are in tension. Habit of getting fresh immediately after wake up is treated as the best way of starting a day, but if the toilet or lavatory is preoccupied, the habit becomes a cause of worry. A man, who acquired habit of drinking milk before going to bed, may feel uneasy or sleepless if doesn’t get milk. ‘Habit’ of going for a walk in the morning or evening is also termed as good habits, but if it couldn’t be possible due to any reason, you feel uneasy. These are some of the examples of those ‘habits’ which are termed as good habits, said to be foundation of success, and prosperity, basis of good health and long life. Habit of any kind if becomes our master it is bad, if the habit is under our control, under our service, it will serve our good purpose.
People enjoy smoking, people enjoy drinking, but when these habits of smoking or drinking become our masters, we feel uneasy or wearisome. Without smoking or drinking, we feel bad. So, it is rightly said, “Habit is a good servant but a bad master, “Don’t let the habits to control you, conquer you; keep them your ‘servants’ and enjoy their company”, is the secret of enjoying the life to the fullest extent.