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Be not slave to habits

Ambrose Bierce, American writer, had said, “In each human heart is a tiger, a pig, an ass and a nightingale. Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity.” PP Wangchuk writes.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2012 23:36 IST
PP Wangchuk

Ambrose Bierce, American writer, had said, “In each human heart is a tiger, a pig, an ass and a nightingale. Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity.”

Let us remind ourselves that this “unequal activity” depends entirely on circumstances; and different traits come to the fore in different individuals. Man, when born, comes with no habits and behaviour pattern. It is all the “goings-on” around him that influence him.

That makes one feel sure that we are all victims of our habits and circumstances. While circumstances lead us to our developing particular habits and a behavioural pattern, habits form an important factor in changing circumstances.

No wonder, Shakespeare too had this on his mind when he said that circumstances could change one into anything --- One could become courteous or quarrelsome, a liar or truthful, an ass or a nightingale – all depending on one’s circumstances.

Do you think Gandhi would have become the Gandhi we know today but for the British rule? And similarly, but for the circumstances you were in, you would have been quite another person, different from what you are today.

English poet William Hazlitt had said that man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.

That drives us to the point that your habits, over a period of time, blunt this much-desired trait of making sense of what is good and what is bad for you and for your society. Chances are greater that your habits are well-trained to judge what is good for yourself but may not be necessarily good for others. So the moral: You have become selfish and your behaviour and habits are the very antithesis of the concept of the greater good of all. Pause for a moment and ponder over how to acquire habits that will make you more humane and loving.