How to Develop Good Habits | Motivational Podcasts

Inspirational Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, brought to you in part by Book of Zen, makers of wearable inspiration for a better world. Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from the book entitled The Mind & Its Education by George Herbert Betts, published in 1906….

Habit is our “best friend or worst enemy.” We are “walking bundles of habits.” Habit is a “cable which we cannot break.” Such are the popular expressions linked with habitual behavior. In other words, let me know your habits of life, and you have revealed your moral standards and conduct. Let me discover your intellectual habits, and I understand your type of mind and methods of thought. In short, our lives are largely a daily round of activities dictated by our habits in this line or that.

Most of our movements and acts are habitual; we think as we have formed the habit of thinking; we decide as we are in the habit of deciding; we sleep, or eat, or speak as we have grown into the habit of doing these things. But while habit may be considered a tyrant, its potential benefits far exceed the bad.

Many people, when they speak or think about habit, give the term a very narrow or limited meaning. They have in mind only certain moral or personal tendencies, usually spoken of as one’s “habits.” But in order to understand habit in a thorough and complete way, we must broaden our concept to include every possible line of physical and mental activity.

Habit may be defined as the tendency of the nervous system to repeat any act that has been performed once or many times. In time, the tissues of the human body can be molded into almost any form you choose. For example, wrong bodily posture can produce curvature of the spine. Muscles may be trained into the habit of keeping the shoulders straight or letting them droop; those of speech, to give us a clear-cut, accurate articulation, or a careless, halting one; and those of the face, to give us a cheerful countenance, or a glum and morose expression.

The tissue of the nervous system is the MOST sensitive and easily molded of all bodily tissues. In fact, it is probable that the real habit of your characteristic walk, gesture, or speech resides in the brain, rather than in the muscles which it controls. So delicate is the organization of the brain structure (and so unstable its molecules), that even the perfume of a flower, the song of a bird, or a fleeting dream, has so modified a child’s brain that they will never again be as if these things had not been experienced.

An old Chinese fairy tale hits upon a fundamental and vital truth. It tells us that each child is accompanied day and night, every moment of their life, by an invisible fairy with a pencil and notebook. It is the duty of this fairy to write down every deed of the child, both good and bad, in an indelible record which will one day rise as a witness for, or against, them. So it is, in truth, with our brains.

A wrong act may have been performed in secret, no living being may ever know that we performed it, and merciful Providence may forgive it; but the ever dutiful monitor of our deeds was all the time beside us writing the record, and the history of that act is inscribed forever in the tissues of our brain. It will remain with us, a handicap, till our dying day. And at some critical moment (in a great emergency) we shall be in danger of defeat because of that long past and forgotten act.

Since we MUST form habits, it is not in our power to say whether we WILL form habits or not. Once started, habits go on forming by themselves day and night, steadily and relentlessly. Habit is, thus, one of the great factors to be reckoned with in our lives. The question is not, SHALL we form habits? but WHAT habits shall we form. And we have to the answer that largely on our own, for habits do not just happen, nor do they come to us ready-made. We ourselves create them, from day to day, through the acts we perform, and in so far as we have control over our acts, we can determine our habits…..

Read The Entire Essay in Evergreen: 50 Inspirational Life Lessons

50 Inspirational Life Lessons