Our behaviours, if prolonged, become habits and our habits become a way of life. Both optimism and pessimism are learned behaviours; that is to say, our attitude or behaviour is not inherent, it is not compulsive, it is not down to chance or fate but rather, it is a chosen response. We choose or determine what our attitudes and responses will be. For example, a man applies but fails to get a promotion at work. How does he respond? He has a choice. He can let the bad news and disappointment get at him, in which case it may well have an adverse effect on his work and maybe even his health, family or career. Alternatively, he can choose to put the disappointment down to experience and bounce straight back into action again, determined to win the next time around. At the end of the day, it really is just a question of choice! You see it’s not so much what happens to us that matters but how we react to what happens to us that makes all the difference.

Where the mind goes the person follows, so be sure that your thoughts are on what you want rather than what you don’t want.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer, Making Good Habits Breaking Bad Habits, (2013), London: Hodder & Stoughton, p.3

One day an adventurer came across a lion in the bush. “I want a lion-skin to wrap around me at night and keep me warm,” said the adventurer. The lion replied, “And I want to fill my belly with meat. How about we compromise?” With that the lion quickly pounced on the adventurer and ate him. The lion filled his belly with meat and the man was all wrapped up in lion skin! – And the moral of this little tale is simply this: Defeat your enemy (your bad habits) and don’t compromise because if you do you’ll end up losing.

“Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.”

Horace Mann (1796-1859), American educational reformist.

At 10:56pm on the night of 20 July 1969 our world changed forever. Two Americans, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, walked on the moon. One of the greatest events of the twentieth century took place as a result of the lunar voyage of Apollo 11. To get there, the astronauts had to break out of the gravity pull of the earth. More energy was spent in the first few minutes of lift off, in the first few miles of travel, than was used over the next days to travel half a million miles. – Bad habits and addictions have tremendous gravity pull. Breaking deeply imbedded habitual tendencies such as procrastination, impatience, a critical spirit or selfishness involves more than a little will power and a few minor changes in our lives. ‘Lift-off’ takes a tremendous effort but once we break out of the gravity pull, our freedom takes on a whole new dimension.

Nicky Gumbel

Source: Nicky Gumbel, 30 DAYS: A Practical Introduction to Reading the Bible, 2006, Alpha Publications, p.81

Raimundo DeOvies tells a story that when the great library of Alexandria was burned, one book was saved. But it was not a valuable book; and so a poor man, who could read a little, bought if for a few coppers. It was not very interesting; yet there was the most interesting thing in it! It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the “Touchstone.”

The touchstone was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was on the shores of the Black Sea, lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles which looked exactly like it. But the secret was this. The real stone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold. So the man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing pebbles.

He knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times, So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this and there were none of them the touchstone. Then he spent a week, a month, a year, three years; but he did not find the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way. Pick up a pebble. It’s cold. Throw it into the sea. And so on and so on.

But one morning he picked up a pebble and it was warm… he threw it into the sea. He had formed the ‘habit’ of throwing them into the sea. He had gotten so into the habit of throwing them into the sea, that when the one he wanted came along… he still threw it away.

Og Mandino

Og Mandino, 1982, University of Success, New York: Bantam Books, p.114-115

For some people a new year’s resolution simply goes in one year and out the next.

A bad habit is like a warm bed: easy to get into and hard to get out of.

“How shall I a habit break?”
As you did that habit make.
As you gathered, you must lose;
As you yielded, now refuse.
Thread by thread the strands we twist
Till they bind us neck and wrist;
Thread by thread the patient hand
Must untwine ere free we stand.
As we builded, stone by stone,
We must toil unhelped, alone,
Till the wall is overthrown.

But remember, as we try,
Lighter every test goes by;
Wading in, the stream grows deep
Toward the centre’s downward sweep.
Backward turn, each step ashore
Shallower is than that before.

Ah! The precious years we waste
Levelling what we raised in haste;
Doing what must be undone
Ere content or love be won!
First across the gulf we cast
Kite-borne threads, till lines are passed,
And habit builds the bridge at last!

John Boyle O’Reilly (1844-1890)

“First we form habits, then they form us. Conquer your bad habits, or they’ll eventually conquer you.”

Rob Gilbert

Good Habits of a Lifetime’

If you open it, close it.

If you turn it on, turn it off.

If you unlock it, lock it up.

If you break it, admit it.

If you can’t fix it, find someone who can.

If you borrow it, return it.

If it’s valuable, take good care of it.

If you make a mess, clean it up.

If you move it, put it back.

If it’s not yours, get permission before you use it.

If you don’t know how it works, ask first or leave it alone.

If it’s none of your business, don’t interfere.

If it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.

If it will encourage or inspire someone, say it.

If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.

If you make a mistake, admit to it, make amends and move on.

If you receive more than you should, be honest.

If you drop it, pick it up.

If you take it out, put it back.

If you start it, finish it.

If you give your word, keep it.

If you can do it today, don’t put it off.

If there’s a queue, wait your turn.

If it’s a worthwhile cause, be charitable.

If it’s recyclable, don’t throw it away.

If you ask or receive, use your manners. (Anon)

Here is a secret formula for self-improvement that I discovered some years ago. I call the formula the, ‘MADE IT – 28.’ (‘MADE IT – 28’ is an acronym which stands for, Make A Determined Effort – Invest the Time for 28 days, or 4 consecutive weeks). If you’ll do this, if you will make a determined effort to change or adopt a new behavioural pattern for 28 consecutive days, then you really will have made it! You’ll have formed a new habit, a new behavioural pattern that your inner-self accepts as normal because the new behaviour now feels comfortable.

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, Maximize Your Potential, Louisiana USA, Pelican Publishing, p.133


I am your constant companion.

I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.

I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.

I am completely at your command.

Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me,

And I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me.

Show me exactly how you want something to be done,

And after a few lessons I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great men

And, alas of failures as well.

Those who are great, I have made great.

Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine

Plus the intelligence of a man.

You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin;

It makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me

And I will put the world at your feet.

Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

I am HABIT! (Anon)

“Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding.”

Harvey Mackay

The best way to break a bad habit is to drop it!

Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith.

Proverbs 25:4 NIV(1984)

Habit is by habit overcome.

Thomas à Kempis

“Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs one step at a time.”

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Here’s a unique way to help get rid of bad habits: wear an elastic band around your wrist. Then every time you are tempted to indulge your bad habit give the elastic band a sharp tug and let it snap! If you are still tempted… pull harder!

“Tradition starts because someone does something twice and then you can’t change it!”

Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia