On Becoming a Man: Making & Breaking HabitsPosted on Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 11:10 AM
By Gbenga Awomodu
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken,” – Samuel Johnson, (English Poet, Critic and Writer, 1709-1784)
In my last (introductory) post in the OBM series, I wrote about the three seasons of life – morning, afternoon, and night. I mused about the importance of maximizing each season, stressing that we ought to move into each new season of our lives well prepared. In preparation for the next phase of life, man must review his ways and seek to attend to the little foxes that spoil the vine, while improving upon his strong points. Today, I write about habits.
Habits make a man, and can as well break him. A habit is an acquired pattern of behaviour which is usually followed until it has become almost involuntary. In other contexts, it could be a particular practice, custom, or usage; a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality. It could also be an addiction, like that of using narcotics. Habits could be good or bad. In the early days of a child, parents and other concerned neighbours often have to discourage a baby from sucking its thumb. A seven-year old child is expected to have overcome that bad habit. In the school he is taught that germs and other harmful substances often linger on the fingers after meals, using the conveniences and playing football on the school field during the long break. Those foreign bodies would make him fall ill. When you see a 30-year man sucking his thumb, you are forced to take a second look at him, a long bewildered stare, even. That is an anomaly. There are many more severe habits, but they all have a root in less noticeable lapses.
Making a habit is a lot easier than breaking one – go ask a smoker. We all know that it takes 30 days to develop a new habit, or maybe 28, or 21, depending on who you ask. Many motivational speakers have told us already. I also remember being told at a Singles meeting some years back that human beings have their character traits established between ages 19 and 25. It is said that after that ceiling, it becomes a lot more difficult to break bad habits. Of course, to every rule, there is an exception, but by observation I have found that ‘theory’ to be consistent. A man who has an insatiable appetite for women, drinks beer like a fish, or panel-beats his wife’s beautiful face with heavy blows and vehement slaps, did not start today. The one who steals money from government coffers today did not just start yesterday. Yet, the forty-year-old-married-man-with-five-kids who earns well, but continues to rent an apartment for lack of tangible savings, started spending all his income on food and frivolities right from his days in the higher institution, and he never thought of proper planning. He refused to grow up! True, some men have had their lungs and nostrils converted to an eternal chimney because of adversities and major heartbreaks, but a real man will take responsibility for his actions. Let’s check again, those signs had always been there. Either no one noticed it, or he was able to conceal it for that long. Moreover, God offers us timely help in our moments of need and prevailing weakness.
What we obsess our minds with; those things with which we pre-occupy our minds with soon assume leadership over our lives. Our thoughts become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits can make or mar us. Today, right now, could you just take a minute to reminisce on your journey in life so far? What habits have you struggled with in the past? How did you overcome bad habits in the past, and how easy has it been for you to develop positive habits, especially after age 25? How have your habits impacted on your career and quality of life? While I read from you, and continue to ponder on these things for positive changes in my own life too, I look forward to sharing with you in the next post. Shallom!
Photo credit: www.5minutesformom.com
Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at BainStone Ltd./BellaNaija.com. When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. He believes in the inspirational power of words and pictures, which he explores in helping to make the world a better place. He blogs at Gbenga’s Notebook (www.gbengaawomodu.com).