“Don’t bite your nails,” the irate mom screamed at her defiant offspring, “it will become a habit.” Repetition of an action develops into a mindless act called habit. When one does something without thinking because they have done so many times before it becomes difficult to break the habit. Several thin wires when braided together become a cable that is difficult to break. Even several sheets of paper when held together become impossible to rip or cut with a scissors. When a parent sees a child doing something that he or she judges as negative behavior the warning to the offspring comes quickly, loudly and clearly.
There is, however, a positive side to the concept of habit. When one knows of positive behavior which one finds difficult to do, one should attempt to repeat it enough times so as to develop a GOOD habit.
When you do something good for the first time stop and consider whether you would like to do it again. Then set a specific number of days or times that you commit to repeat that deed. Make it consistent and keep it limited to enough times to develop a good habit but not so much that your resolution cannot be kept. It doesn’t take much effort to resolve to repeat a good deed. What is difficult today — when repeated enough times — will become automatic tomorrow.
Rabbi Raymond Beyda
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