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Don’t be a slave to habits

india Updated: Mar 03, 2010 02:38 IST
Tapan Susheel
Tapan Susheel
Hindustan Times
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Opportunities in life to grow often come in unpredictable ways. It generally slips out, as we do not have a positive attitude for the ‘touchstone’.

The touchstone is a story of ancient Egypt that underlines that habit of anything can bring failure to a person if he goes on with the habit for long. During the burning of the great library of Alexandria, one book was saved by a person. Though the book was not that interesting, it had a few pages over the secrets of the touchstone.

It, according to book, was a small warm pebble that could turn any metal into pure gold, but it was lying mixed with other ordinary pebbles. The difference between a touchstone and an ordinary pebble was that whereas the latter was cool, the touchstone was warm all the time.

That person, for acquiring the touchstone, brought a huge supply of pebbles and camped on the seashore. He knew that if he picked up the pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebbles hundreds of times. So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it directly into the sea.

He spent a whole day doing this but no sign of the touchstone. The days turned into weeks and the weeks into months. One day, however, he picked up a pebble and it was warm. He threw it into the sea before he realised what he had done. Throwing had become a habit with him, and he could not do without it. What he wanted was within his grasp, but he let it go.

A habit is something that we create by repeating a particular behaviour. “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us,” was expressed by a famous English poet of the 17th century; John Dryden.

The moral: One must change one's habits and attitude, or else be a loser in life.