Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Habit

"Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit." - Henry Adams, aka Henry Brooks Adams

"In the conduct of life, habits count for more than maxims; because habit is a living maxim, becomes flesh and instinct. To reform one's maxims is nothing: it is but to change the title of the book. To learn new habits is everything, for it is to reach the substance of life. Life is but a tissue of habits." -

"Moral virtue can be without some of the intellectual virtues, namely, wisdom, science and art, but not without understanding and prudence. Moral virtue cannot be without prudence, because moral virtue is habit of choosing, that is, making us choose well." -

"The light of faith makes us see what we believe. For just as, by the habits of the other virtues, man sees what is fitting to him in respect of that habit, so, by the habit of faith, the human mind is directed to assent to such things as are fitting to a right faith, and not to assent to others." -

"Through every mortal sin which is contrary to God’s commandments, an obstacle is placed to the outpouring of charity, since from the very fact that a man chooses to prefer sin to God’s friendship, which requires that we should follow His will, it follows that the habit of charity is lost at once through one mortal sin." -

"The purpose of this discipline is to bring man into the habit of applying the insight that has come to him as the result of the preceding disciplines. When one is rising, standing, walking, doing something, stopping, one should constantly concentrate one’s mind on the act and the doing of it, not on one’s relation to the act, or its character or value. One should think: there is walking, there is stopping, there is realizing; not, I am walking, I am doing this, it is a good thing, it is disagreeable, I am gaining merit, it is I who am realizing how wonderful it is. Thence come vagrant thoughts, feelings of elation or of failure and unhappiness. Instead of all this, one should simply practice concentration of the mind on the act itself, understanding it to be an expedient means for attaining tranquillity of mind, realization, insight and Wisdom; and one should follow the practice in faith, willingness and gladness. After long practice the bondage of old habits become weakened and disappears, and in its place appear confidence, satisfaction, awareness and tranquillity. What is the Way of Wisdom designed to accomplish? There are three classes of conditions that hinder one from advancing along the path to Enlightenment. First, there are the allurements arising from the senses, from external conditions and from the discriminating mind. Second, there are the internal conditions of the mind, its thoughts, desires and mood. All these the earlier practices (ethical and mortificatory) are designed to eliminate. In the third class of impediments are placed the individual’s instinctive and fundamental (and therefore most insidious and persistent) urges - the will to live and to enjoy, the will to cherish one’s personality, the will to propagate, which give rise to greed and lust, fear and anger, infatuation, pride and egotism. The practice of the Wisdom Paramita is designed to control and eliminate these fundamental and instinctive hindrances." - Aśvaghoṣa NULL

"Once you are used to something, you feel some suffering if you lack it. Be very careful before making something a habit." - Abraham ben Moses ben Maimon, aka Rabbi Avraham Maimuni, aka Rabbeinu Avraham ben ha-Rambam NULL

"Sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny." - George Dana Boardman "The Younger"

"The law of the harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny." - George Dana Boardman "The Younger"

"The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of work." - Sarah T. Bolton, fully Sarah Tittle Barrett Bolton

"To speak well supposes a habit of attention which shows itself in the thought; by language we learn to think and above all to develop thought." - Carl Victor de Bonstetten

"Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and approximate to the characters we most admire. A generous habit of thought and action carries with it an incalculable influence." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"Habit is not mere subjugation, it is a tender tie; when one remembers habit it seems to have been happiness." - Elizabeth Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

"Give a child the habit of sacredly regarding the truth - of carefully respecting the property of others - of scrupulously abstaining from all acts of improvidence which can involve him in distress, and he will just as likely think of rushing into the element in which he cannot breathe, as of lying or cheating or stealing." -

"Habit, to which all of us are more or less slaves." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Duty by habit is to pleasure turned." - Samuel Egerton Brydges

"At times, laziness is the root of taking action. When we feel an urge to give in to a desire, we might hear a whisper telling us that something is not right. Laziness, however, prevents us from fighting that desire and we give in to our bad habit." - Chazon Ish, named Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz

"The habits of time are the soul's dress for eternity. Habit passes with its owner beyond this world into a world where destiny is determined by character, and character is the sum and expression of all preceding habit." - George Barrell Cheever

"It is the fixed law of the universe, that little things are but parts of the great. The grass does not spring up full grown, by eruptions: it rises by an increase so noiseless and gentle, as not to disturb an angel's ear - perhaps to be invisible to an angel's eye. The rain does not fall in masses, but in drops, or even in the breath-like moisture of the fine mist. The planets do not leap from end to end of their orbits, but inch by inch, and line by line, it is that they circle the heavens. Intellect, feeling, habit, character, all become what they are through the influence of little things. And in morals and religion, it is by little things - by little influences acting on us, or seemingly little decisions made by us, that everyone of us is going, not by leaps, yet surely by inches, either to life or death eternal." - Tyron Edwards

"Don't think too much about yourselves. Try to cultivate the habit of thinking of others; this will reward you. Nourish your minds by good reading, constant reading. Discover what your lifework is, work in which you can do most good, in which you can be happiest. Be unafraid in all things when you know you are in the right." - Charles W. Eliot

"Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters." - Nathanael Emmons, also Nathaniel Emmons

"Change, not habit, is what gets most of us down; habit is the stabilizer of human society, change accounts for its progress." - William Feather

"The habit of virtue cannot be formed in the closet; good habits are formed by acts of reason in a persevering struggle with temptation." - Bernard Gilpin

"Moral stimulation is good but moral complacency is the most dangerous habit of mind we can develop, and that danger is serious and ever-present." - Joseph Grew, fully Joseph Clark Grew

"Habit has great power. We can become used to almost everything. We can become so used to a life of suffering that we are no longer aware that our suffering is not the way life should be lived. This tendency to lack a feeling of suffering is the biggest obstacle to becoming elevated through suffering. Since we do not feel the suffering, we do not pay attention to it and do not hear its message.. To overcome this, we must obtain an awareness that whenever things are not as they should be it is a message that we should improve ourselves in some area." - Avraham Grodzinski

"Whatever can lead an intelligent being to the exercise or habit of mental enjoyment, contributes more to his happiness than the highest sensual or mere bodily pleasures. The one feeds the soul, while the other, for the most part, only exhausts the frame, and too often injures the immortal part... Let all seen enjoyments lead to the unseen fountain from whence they flow." - Thomas Haliburton, fully Thomas Chandler Haliburton, pseudonym "Sam Slick"

"If we look back upon the usual course of our feelings, we shall find that we are more influenced by the frequent recurrence of objects than by their weight and importance; and that habit has more force in forming our habits than our opinions have. The mind naturally takes its tone and complexion from what it habitually contemplates." - Robert Hall

"Apologizing - a very desperate habit - one that is rarely cured. Apology is only egotism wrong side out." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"Indecision is debilitating; it feeds upon itself; it is, one might almost say, habit-forming. Not only that, but it is contagious; it transmits itself to others." - Mark Hopkins

"No habit has any real hold on you other than the hold you have on it." - Gardner Hunting

"When we practice the ridiculous habit of judging by appearances, we cut ourselves off from the good which the situation or person holds for us." - Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla

"Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very small portion of their possible consciousness, and of their soul's resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger. Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed." - William James

"Nature... is frugal in her operations and will not be at the expense of a particular instinct to give us that knowledge which experience and habit will soon produce. Reproduced sights and contacts tied together with the present sensation in the unity of a thing with a name, these are complex objective stuff out of which my actually perceived table is made. Infants must go through a long education of the eye and ear before they can perceive the realities which adults perceive. Every perception is an acquired perception." - William James

"Gaming corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us a habit of hostility against all mankind." - Thomas Jefferson

"The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." -

"Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of habit." -

"If you create an act, you create a habit. If you create a habit, you create a character. If you create a character, you create a destiny." -

"The habit of saving is itself an education; it fosters every virtue, teaches self-denial, cultivates the sense of order, trains to forethought, and so broadens the mind." - Theodore T. Munger

"One will seldom go wrong if one attributes extreme actions to vanity, average ones to habit, and petty ones to fear." -

"When the taste is purified, the morals are not easily corrupted. Whatever injures the body, the morals, or the mind, will lessen or vitiate taste; thus, disorders of the body and violent passions of the mind, will do this, and so will also excessive care or covetousness; but above all, a habit of intemperance, and keeping low company will greatly deprave that which was once a good taste." - Ronald E. Osborn

"There is nothing a man can less afford to leave at home than his conscience or his good habits; for it is not to be denied that travel is, in its immediate circumstances, unfavorable to habits of self-discipline, regulation of thought, sobriety of conduct, and dignity of character. Indeed, one of the great lessons of travel is the discovery how much our virtues owe to the support of constant occupation, to the influence of public opinion, and to the force of habit; a discovery very dangerous, if it proceed from an actual yielding to temptations resisted at home, and not from a consciousness of increased power put forth in withstanding them." - Richardson Pack or Packe

"The best way to stop a bad habit is never to begin it." - J. C. Penney, formally James Cash Penney

"The pinions of your soul will have power to still the untamed body. The creature will yield only to watchful, strenuous constancy of habit. Purify your soul from all undue hope and fear about earthly things, mortify the body, deny self - affections as well as appetites - and the inner eye will begin to exercise its clear and solemn vision." - Plotinus NULL

"The habit of dissipating every serious thought by a succession of agreeable sensations is as fatal to happiness as to virtue; for when amusement is uniformly substituted for objects of moral and mental interest, we lose all that elevates our enjoyments above the scale of childish pleasures." - Anna Maria Porter

"It is not in novelty but in habit that we find the greatest pleasure." - Raymond Radiguet

"Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny." - Charles Reade

"Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired." - Jules Renard, aka Pierre-Jules Renard

"A person easily becomes a slave to his habits. The most difficult habits to break are the habits of thinking in a certain manner. You can have a large amount of control over yourself by working to obtain positive habits. Even with habits of thoughts, we have the ability to utilize the power of habit to form the habit of thinking rationally and productively, and to elevate our thoughts to such a degree that we will have changed our entire thought patterns for the better." - Yitzchok Isaac Sher

"With the gain of knowledge, connect the habit of imparting it. This increases mental wealth by putting it in circulation; and it enhances the value of our knowledge to ourselves, not only in its depth, confirmation and readiness for use, but in that acquaintance with human nature, that self-command, and that reaction of moral training upon ourselves, which are above all price." - Lydia Sigourney, fully Lydia Huntley Sigourney, née Lydia Howard Huntley