If we look closely, we will see that the habits of an average person will rule that person’s day-to-day actions. In general, bad habits block you from reaching your goals in life and fulfilling your potential. It doesn’t matter so much what they are, but it is important to become aware of them and accept the truth of them, and then to take action to begin to change those negative things in your life.
The average person will go through their life making repeated intentions to change their negative/bad habits, but within a short time they are back in the saddle, so to speak, and letting their bad habits run their lives. More often than not, those people find themselves not doing what they wished to do, but doing what they are accustomed to doing.
So how do we change those habits that have outlived their usefulness or are just harmful to our growth?
I’m not a psychotherapist, but I think we can all agree that habits are a fixed way of thinking, willing or feeling that has been acquired through a repetition of thinking or acting.
I want so share my thoughts about good and bad habits in three areas: Eating, Sex and Honesty.
The Good Habits and Bad Habits of Eating
Eating is something we all have to do. We must feed the body in order to function. Keeping our bodies healthy and feeding them correctly will help us in our meditation and spiritual practices.
For instance, try meditating when you’re hungry, or when you’ve overeaten. Where’s your focus going to be; not on the peaceful place in your heart area, or on the mantra you’re listening to. The mind and all the senses will be working overtime to distract you. They already distract you enough during meditation, even when you don’t over eat.
Remember what you focus on; that’s what you draw into your consciousness and your life.
Try to see your mind as a container and your consciousness as water. The water will take on the shape/form of the container you pour it into. So be careful of your container, i.e., your mind. Practice discrimination and control, and focus on spiritual aspirations as opposed to material ones and your consciousness will be elevated.
It’s a simple process, take care of the body, and for the most part it takes care of itself.
Does that mean we are all going to get skinny and live a long peaceful life? No.
But it will bring more peace into your life and your mind, and you will emanate more peace in day-to-day living.
Sex: When is it Good and When is it Bad?
Sex is a natural function of human life. Our human life is meant for enjoyment. We are meant to live life to our fullest, but not get overshadowed by the process of trying to enjoy it. Being respectful toward yourself and others is key. So when does sex become something that is harmful to you, others or the society we live in?
Here’s one of those ways: when sex is misunderstood by our children as a random act, rather than an act of intimacy between two people, because of the messages that are being promoted through billboards, movies, TV and the Internet, it then becomes harmful.
When sex is used as a means of sensory enjoyment, rather than intimacy, it degrades that act and makes it no more important than having a milk shake or experiencing any other random act of enjoyment. When sex is used as just an act of gratifying our own pleasures, we are not only harming ourselves but others, as well.
Sex was always meant to be a spiritual experience between two intimate people who are looking to enhance and bind their relationship to become one. It is not a random act.
Because of how sex is viewed today and the lack of discrimination surrounding right and wrong, and good and bad, we have an explosion of pornography, sex addiction, rape and the degradation of women as mere sex symbols.
How do we turn that around? It begins with each one of us. We do the best we can by honoring each other. If you are a man, you honor women; women honor men.
In the Ten Commandments, the 5th Law says “Honor your Mother and father,” meaning we honor all that represents our mothers (everything that represents the feminine and creates life) and father (everything that represents the masculine and provides and protects life).
In the Five Mindful Trainings, the Third One speaks of “Awareness of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct.” I think that one is pretty clear.
The 4th Yama of Yama Niyama talks about sexual responsibility.
When the simple guidelines or spiritual laws are not followed, chaos ensues, integrity is lost and morality falls apart.
The Good Habits and Bad Habits of Honesty
Honesty is like a rebar (short for reinforcing bar, made of steel rods that are the essential structure when using cement and masonry in building). It helps bond and hold our core principles in place. It can be said that it is the most important facet of our moral character. In short, honesty defines who we are.
Now if that doesn’t put into perspective how important honesty is to us as human beings, I don’t know what does.
What brings about dishonesty? The answer is lots of things. But most likely fear would be associated with all of them in some form.
Each time we are dishonest, it’s like scratching the lens of our glasses. The size of the scratch on your lens will depend of the lie. With each scratch, our vision becomes a little more distorted.
Some of us will get used to those scratches and thus look at life through a distorted lens, while others will see and feel uncomfortable and will want to change those lenses.
Almost all of us are born with a “belly barometer” as I like to call it. We know even as little kids when we are being dishonest, but over time when that belly barometer is ignored it lessens and lessens until it’s not there anymore.
One of the ways dishonesty is very sneaky is through omission. Most people will rationalize that they didn’t lie because they didn’t say something that was untruthful, but at the same time they did leave out part of what was being talked about. Omission is a lie when you leave out something that would change the meaning of what you said, thus giving a false representation of what is being spoken about.
A lie is a lie. If you rationalize why you tell lies, you are tearing away at the structure of your integrity and morality. There is no white lie. It’s a law of nature. Telling lies, regardless if they are small or large, will only bring about more lies.
Being honest is not always easy and sometimes it isn’t the right thing to do…at that moment. This is where you need the help of a spiritual advisor, a friend or loved one who will not be biased (this is hard to find), or good therapist.
Honesty will bring you inner peace; dishonesty will bring you inner (and eventually outer) pain. Honesty will build character; dishonesty tears it apart. Honesty brings you respect; dishonesty brings disrespect. Honesty will bring you strength; dishonesty weakness. Honesty brings wisdom; dishonesty ignorance.
Overcoming Bad Habits
Habits make the performance of certain things easier. Good habits will help make the performance of difficult things easier. Bad habits, no matter how “good” the intentions, are destructive and disturbing to you, yourself and the universe. Bad habits are painful… now and in the future.
Very seldom does a person understand that our health, success and outlook on life depend entirely on the battle between our good and bad habits. It is in all the Scriptures and we can see it play out in our everyday life.
It’s really very simple. Bad habits bring about more bad habits. They are contagious.
Don’t think you can get away with just one little bad habit because, small though it may be, it will eat away at the integrity of — and commitment to — everything in your life. It won’t happen all at once; it never does. But someday you’ll wake up and wonder: How did I ever get to this place?
So how does one overcome bad habits? By starving them out! Don’t give them a chance to grow. Don’t rationalize them; don’t give them power; don’t let them make you think that you are better than others, etc.
You have to replace them with something and, in the beginning that “something” might just be a prayer, but you can’t let those bad habits go without replacing them or you’ll certainly be back in the saddle again with the same old bad habits holding the reins.
The most important thing to know is that you can’t “white knuckle” them. If you do, it’s just a matter of time before you cave back in to the same old bad habits.
Discrimination is an important element here, i.e., knowing right from wrong…not letting our senses lead our actions. Admittedly, in the beginning (and even later on) bad habits do give you some pleasure. But as time goes on, the pleasure is a little less, then even a little less, until you’re chasing something that you can’t catch and you find that you are doing it strictly out of habit. Worse yet, you may not even be aware anymore of the consequences you are experiencing because of the bad habit and you just become hopelessly adrift in a sea of negativity.
In most instances bad habits seem harmless and you do derive some pleasure from it. Otherwise, you most likely wouldn’t have done it.
So how do we stop repeating bad habits? I said it before: discrimination. Now that might sound like a politically incorrect word. But this is not about being politically correct; it’s about integrity, honesty, peace and real Love.
How we can begin to be discriminating is by our spiritual practice, i.e., following the natural and spiritual laws. Not just the ones we like but the hard ones as well. Don’t water down the teachings that have brought about real Love and Peace throughout time.
I’m not talking about us becoming saints or monks. I’m talking about us living the life we are meant to live…being human…acting intelligently from a place of Love and Peace. Not solely from our senses where we find only temporary pleasure, but a place of lasting pleasure; the pleasure of lasting Peace and real Love. This is the goal of human life. We are meant to enjoy ourselves, we are not meant to be slaves to our sensual demands. We are supposed to have our feelings, but not let our feelings have us.
When we regularly find the time to meditate, pray and read the Scriptures of the saintly ones, we will develop real peace, harmony and joy.