Habits are either good or bad. Even good habits, if given free play, may turn into bad ones. For example, reading is a good habit. It helps in acquiring knowledge, in meaningful use of leisure time and healthy entertainment. But excess of reading books, magazines etc., is harmful. It would soon tell upon one’s health, resources, mental fitness and capacity to earn. Balance is the golden rule.
That is why it is said, “Excess of everything is bad” nothing too much, not even good things and habits.
It is easy to acquire bad and evil habits but not so, easy to cultivate and acquire good ones. Habits once acquired are difficult to get rid of. As a leopard cannot change its spots so one cannot change ones habits. They die hard. They become part and parcel of one’s nature and behaviour. Bad habits render a person useless an undesirable. Telling lies, back biting, spitting here and there, smoking, or taking alcohol frequently and repeatedly are some of the bad habits. They can be as many as there are persons. Like a name, a habit sticks fast till the death. Habits can make or mar our fortunes. They actually form the foundation of our character and destiny. That is why it is said, “Sow an act and you reap a habit. S6w a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny”. They are the very cornerstones of our character and destiny. We are the makers or destroyers of our destiny. Because we cultivate, practice and acquire good or bad habits and their fruits accordingly. One may have a bad habit of flattering others or of making false promises. Similarly, one may have a bad habit if stealing things. One habit leads to another, and then there is a sort of chain of habits to from which an escape is impossible, particularly in advanced age.
Anything done often and repeatedly becomes a habit the force of habit is very powerful. It makes the particular habit easy, automatic and repetitive. Habits have their origin in repetition, practice and regularity. The more we repeat and practice anything, the easier, permanent and automatic it becomes. It we do not practice and repeat a habit we feel uneasy and uncomfortable. Take for example, the habit of taking tea. There are people who consume 20 or more cups of tea daily. They may do without food, newspapers or rest, but cannot dispense with hot cups of tea taken almost every hour of the day. They will feel sick, lethargic, bored and useless without enjoying their cups of tea. Same is the case with smokers or drunkards. Habits are too forceful to be avoided. It is the constant and repeated use and practice that gives birth to a habit. Without constant and repeated use and frequency there cannot be any habit. Anything done or practiced occasionally cannot be called a habit. Habits are another name of addiction.
Early and formative years of childhood are very important in this respect. Then it is very easy to have new impressions and influences. It is the proper time to cultivate good habits. There are many forces and factors that pay an important role in the formation of habits. Early education, impressions, influences, company, associations etc, are some of the major factors in the formation of habits. Slowly antic gradually they get ingrained in our nature. Man is also an imitative being. He likes to imitate others. Imitation also helps much in the formation of habits, bad as well as good. Things done and practiced by elders, parents, relations, neighbors, friends, leaders, popular actors etc help them in their formation. For example, a boy who sees his father smoking is very likely to have this evil habit. The boy may imagine that there must be some joy, excitement and thrill in the habit that is why his father indulged in it. One day he may try it stealthily as smoking material is easily available in the home. Gradually he may become a habitual smoker and spread it among his friends and associates.
Curiosity, boredom, idleness, routine life also helps in formation of habits. It is said that an entry mind is a devil’s workshop. An idle person is apt to develop bad habits like playing cards, gambling, stealing, drug-addiction etc. Bad company and association often lead innocent boy’s mad girls’ into the vicious habits. A drug-addict-may offers a drug, free of cost, to his friend at first and thereby helps him form a bad habit of taking drugs. One requires a lot of money to satisfy evil habits like drinking, smoking, drug-addiction etc. They may ultimately lead a person to stealing, lying, borrowing and even worse actions.
Man can be said to be a bundle of habits. They may be good or bad. There cannot be a person wholly good or wholly evil. Speaking truth, frankness, honesty, service to others, cleanliness, reading good books etc., are some of the good habits. They must be encouraged and helped among the young men and women. Good habits should be appreciated, encouraged and rewarded, “Example is better than precept”. We should always put examples of good and meaningful habits before the children and young men and women. We must create an atmosphere where good habits are always infectious. Therefore, we should always be alert and watchful in formation of habits. Bad habits should be nipped in the bud and good ones should be tried and practiced again and again, for they would die and perish for want of these.