Children, one of the most dangerous things that can happen to us is to fall into the clutches of bad habits. Once that happens, it is very difficult to get free. So, we must always remain vigilant.
It is when we repeatedly engage in negative thinking and actions that they become habits. Without our knowledge, these habits then devour our very life.
Once, a man went to the eye doctor because of discomfort in his eyes. After examining him, the doctor said, “There’s nothing to worry about. Just flush your eyes with brandy twice a day. Within one week, the discomfort will go away.”
Next week, the patient returned to the doctor. After examining him, the doctor said, “There’s no improvement! What happened? Didn’t you follow my instructions?” The patient said, “I tried but it was impossible to get my hands past my mouth.”
When habits become our nature, we become slaves to those habits. The influence of habits on us is that powerful.
Today we are in a kind of sleep state. Because of this, we have no awareness with regard to our words and actions. It’s not enough to have knowledge; our awareness must be awakened. Only then will we get the full benefit from our knowledge. Everyone who smokes knows that smoking is injurious to their health, but they still smoke. Only when they get diagnosed with cancer will the awareness of just how bad the habit is awaken in them. Then, even if they desire to smoke, they will not touch a cigarette again.
Many people with bad habits tell me, “This habit has formed over theyears. It’s very hard to stop it just like that. So, I will try to stop it little by little.” This is because they fail to realise just how dangerous their bad habit is to their physical and mental health.
Imagine a house that has caught fire while the owner is sleeping. He awakes to see the fire has completely surrounded him. His only thought will be to escape as quickly as possible. He will not take his sweet time to escape. Similarly, the moment that we realise that bad habits are injurious to us, we will drop them instantly.
The first thing we need to free ourselves from our bad habits is determination. The second is to stay away from tempting situations. It is important to stay away from friendships that will lead to wrongdoing. Don’t hesitate to get help from a physician or a counsellor when it is needed. If you have vigilance and make constant effort, you can overcome any bad habit.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi