Mason Harris
Newbern, Tennessee

Someone has said, "The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt, until they are too strong to be broken." (Samuel Johnson) Silently and imperceptibly we are forming habits that will ultimately determine the degree of our happiness and success. These habits can easily be broken in the early stages of their growth, but once they have reached the full measure of their intensity, they assume the proportions of psychological obsessions. They completely dominate character and conduct and if they are bad habits, and are allowed to remain uncorrected, they can ruin our entire life. There are two or three observations I would like to make in regard to habits:

Number one is that we are the kind of persons we are because of habits we have formed whether good or bad. It has been said, "What you are, will determine what you do." This is not always true. You may be much better than your worst act, and you may be much worse than your best act. But what you habitually do is you.

The second observation that I would make is this: We choose our own pattern of thought. Joshua told the Israelites, "Choose you this day whom you will serve." Man's birthright is his freedom of choice. And this applies to our thoughts as well as to our actions.

And the third observation is this: It is never too late to change habits; that is, as long as we are of sound mind and body. One of the greatest misconceptions of man is that be cannot change his habits. He often excuses himself by saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." But we are not talking about dogs. We are talking about, people. And people can change. Paul said, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). This says that man can change and tells us how he can change-that is, by renewing his mind. Or by changing his pattern of thought.

The great danger in habits is that, like concrete, they tend to harden and make for the habit-bound man, the man who is so completely in the grip of his habits that he will stand or fall with them. Be careful then that you form good habits.

May 24, 1973