Sunday, February 03, 2008

Habits are at first cobwebs, at last cables

What is a habit? A pattern of behavior that is frequently repeated. Our characters are composed of a collection of habits that can be good or bad, so we seek to establish good ones and remove the bad.

Good habits include punctuality, honesty, reliability and financial prudence. We are encouraged to develop these from infancy, but it is human to fall into error, and it is necessary to be constantly vigilant in maintaining standards. Our friends, relatives and enemies are often very helpful here in pointing out our shortcomings! Good habits are developed from discipline and practice.

This saying reminds us that habits start off frail and grow stronger with the passing of time ensnaring us before we realize it. Good habits we tend to take for granted, and it is the bad ones that worry us. Most advice on habits tends to be about how to be free of the harmful kind.
Today we would probably think of habits as neural networks in the brain that strengthen with repeated us, and to break them we must overlay them with positive behavior -- substituting good for bad. Smoking is regarded as a major bad habit and one method of control is to substitute another sucking habit such as a sweet; but this can lead to the obesity that comes from bad eating habits.

The best method of overcoming unwanted habits is the exercise of self-control so that the habit gets its energy cut off and withers naturally. Then the cables that bind us in misery can be snapped.

A collection of articles on habits can be accessed here:

The Proverb Practitioner
We hate delay yet it makes us wise. Those of you following the progress of the song 2008 challenge might like to know that the web page for this is now available and the promotional video (always remembering, There's many's a slip twixt cup and lip) will be launched next week.

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