Quotes on Habits – Shaping One’s Kendo and Life

As mentioned in “Resources on Habits – to Change or Acquire Them,” our acquired habits of behaviors, actions and thoughts influence and shape our kendo and life significantly.  Here are some quotes on habits – organized as follows:

  • Quotes on Various Aspects of Habits:
    • About Habits
      • Importance of Habits
      • Identifying Habits
      • Bad Habits
      • How Habits Support Success and Excellence
      • How Habits Affect Our Character and Life
      • Stickiness of Habits
      • Parents and Children
    • Goals vs. Habits
      • The Downside of Goals (only)
    • In Practice
      • Maintenance
      • Selection of Habits
  • Quotes on Habits by Author:
    • By Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Random House, 2014.
    • By Robert J. Ringer, Million Dollar Habits, Ballantine Books, 1990.
    • By David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered in a Commencement Speech.
    • Dr. Bruce Lipton
    • Dr. Brett N. Steenbarger
    • By William James, Chapter IV “Habit” from The Principles of Psychology, 1890.

May we develop “good” habits!

Quotes on Various Aspects of Habit

  • About Habits:
    • Importance of Habits
      • No matter who you are, we’re creatures of habit. The better your habits are, the better they will be in pressure situations. – Wayne Gretzky
      • Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny. – Lao Tzu
      • It’s natural to think that we need the result, the transformation, the overnight success.  But that’s not what you need.  You need better habits.  – James Clear.
      • A habit is something you can do without thinking – which is why most of us have so many of them. – Frank Clark.
      • No monarch is so well obeyed as that whose name is Habit. – James Lendall Basford
      • To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be. – Miguel de Unamuno
      • The individual who wants to reach the top in business* must appreciate the might of the force of habit and must understand that practices are what create habits.  He must be quick to break those habits that can break him and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires.  – J. Paul Getty.
        • (*Editor’s note:  “business” could be replaced with “kendo” or any other desired area)
      • Better habits, better life. – Robert Celner
      • Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change. – Arthur Burt
      •  I am slave to my habits, as are all grown men.  I have surrendered my free will to the years of accumulated habits and the past deeds of my life have already marked out a path which threatens to imprison my future.   My actions are ruled by appetite, passion, prejudice, greed, love, fear, environment, habit, and the worst of these tyrants is habit.  Therefore, if I must be a slave to habit let me be a slave to good habits.Og Mandino from The Greatest Salesman in the World
    • Identifying Habits:
      • Don’t mix up that which is habitual with that which is natural. – Mahatma Gandhi [Rosenberg_NVCTools, p. 131]
    • Bad Habits:
      • The best way to stop a bad habit is to never begin it.  – J. C. Penney.
      • Bad habits are your enemy.  Starve them the fuel of repetition and they will begin to fade. – J. J. Goldwag.
      • Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow. – Yiddish Proverb
      • Correcting one bad work habit will introduce your mind to the endless possibilities. – J. J. Goldwag.
      • It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them. – Benjamin Franklin
      • A bad habit never disappears miraculously.  It’s an undo-it-yourself project.  – Abigail Van Buren.
    • How Habits Support Success and Excellence:
      • Successful people are simply those with success habits.  – Brian Tracy.
      • We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. – Will Durant
      • If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters.  Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.  – Colin Powell.
    • How Habits Develop into Character and Our Life:
      • Every grown-up man consists wholly of habits, although he is often unaware of it and even denies having any habits at all.  – Georges Gurdjieff.
      • Sometimes I get the feeling that we’re just a bunch of habits. – Nicole Krauss
      • Character is simply habit long continued.  – Plutarch.
      • The law of 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.  – James Allen
      • 95% of everything you do is the result of habit.” – Aristotle
      • How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.  – Charlie Gilkey
      • Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.  – Stephen Covey
      • The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half. Feodor Dostoevski
      • You cannot change your future; but, you can change your habits, and surely your habits…will change your future. – Dr. Abdul Kalam
    • Stickiness of Habits
      • Good habits are difficult to acquire, but easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to acquire, but difficult to live with. – Zig Ziglar
      • Habits are like a cable. We weave a strand of it everyday and soon it cannot be broken. – Horace Mann
      • Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going. – Jim Ryun
      • The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, . . . was all about: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. – Cal Newport
    • For Parents and Children:
      • A man who gives his children habits of industry provides for them better than by giving them a fortune.  – Richard Whately.
      • In early childhood you may lay the foundation of poverty or riches, industry or idleness, good or evil, by the habits to which you train your children. Teach them right habits then, and their future life is safe.   – Lydia Sigourney.
  • How to Adopt New Habits
    • The problem with changing your habits is not you.  The reason why you repeat the same bad habit for so long isn’t because you don’t want to change,  but because you have the wrong system for change. – James Clear from [Marx_AtomicHabits].
  • Goals vs. Habits
    • The Downside of Goals (Only)
      • From [Marx_AtomicHabits]
        • Here are some problems with only having goals.
          • Successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, so therefore the goal can not be what differentiates winners from losers.
          • Achieving a goal only changes your life for a moment in time.
          • Goals can create an either-or conflict. Either you achieve the goal and succeed, or you don’t and you are a failure -even if you were making progress in the right direction.
          • When you achieve a goal, what do you do after?  If your goal was running the local marathon, chances are after completing it, your motivation will quickly fade and you will just slip back into your old routines.
        • “Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress”
  • In Practice:
    • “Maintenance” of Habits:
      • Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables.  – Spanish Proverb.
      • The easier it is to do, the harder it is to change.  – Eng’s Principle.
      • Habits are safer than rules; you don’t have to watch them.  And you don’t have to keep them, either.  They keep you.  – Frank Crane.
      • Environment is stronger than will power. – Prahamansa Yogananda
    • Selection of Habits:
      • Cultivate only the habits that you are willing should master you.  – Elbert Hubbard.

Quotes on Habits by Author

By Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Random House, 2014

  • “Understanding habits is the most important thing I’ve learned in the army,” the major told me.  “It’s changed everything about how I see the world. … You want to make running easy?  Create triggers to make it a routine.  I drill my kids on this stuff. … This is all we talk about in command meetings.”  p. xix.
    • “… but once you see everything as a bunch of habits, it’s like someone gave you a flashlight and a crowbar and you can get to work.”  p. xix.
    • “Now I’m telling you, if a hick like me can learn this stuff, anyone can.  I tell my soldiers all the time, there’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.” p. xx.
  • And though each habit means relative little on its own, over time, the meals we order, what we say to our kids each night, whether we save or spend, how often we exercise and the way we organize our thoughts and work routines have enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness.  p. xvi.
  • One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.  p. xvi.

By Robert J. Ringer from Million Dollar Habits, Ballantine Books, 1990.

  • Success is a matter of understanding and religiously practicing specific, simple habits that always lead to success.  Though this may not sound particularly glamorous at first blush, two realities make it quite an exciting proposition:  First, it works.  Second, habits can be learned by anyone who is willing to put forth the necessary effort.  p. 2.
    • Remember, life is nothing more than the sum total of many successful years; a successful year is nothing more than the sum total of many successful months; a successful month is nothing more than the sum total of many successful weeks; and a successful week is nothing more than the sum total of many successful days.  That’s why practicing simple success habits day in and day out is the most certain way to win over the long term.  p. 2.  (Editor’s note:  This could be applied to kendo by replacing the word “life” with “kendo”)

By David Foster Wallace, “This Is Water: Some Thoughts,” Delivered in a Commencement Speech.

  • There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
    • The water is habits, the unthinking choices and invisible decisions that surround us each day – and which, just by looking at them, become visible again. (Comment by Charles Duhigg from p. 274 of his book cited above).

By Dr. Bruce Lipton

  • From [Lipton_ConsciousnessHealing]
    • From The moment you are thinking, your conscious mind lets go of the wheel … and goes inside to process thinking.  Ninety-five percent of the day on average, and up to 99 percent of the day for many of us, we’re thinking
      • [So when the mind] lets go of the wheel to go inside [and think or process], the subconscious goes on autopilot. Whatever the heck you were doing, the subconscious will put its hands on the wheel and drive you.
      • Ninety-five percent of the day, you are playing programs automatically, subconsciously, and not observing them.
    • Your life is a printout of your subconscious programs.
    • [To get what we want in life, we keep trying] to override the subconscious with the conscious. … but the subconscious is a million times more powerful.
    • (Y)our life is in the program, and you will manifest the program you’ve got. But if you stop thinking and you stay mindful, then the conscious mind’s got its hands on the wheel all the time. And the conscious mind is taking you to [your] wishes and desires.

Dr. Brett N. Steenbarger from His On-line Book:  Radical Renewal:  Tools for Leading a Meaningful Life

  • From the Introduction To Renewal: Where Are You Going?
    • Life problems occur when we become trapped in repetitive patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior.
      • the same conflicts with spouses; the same harsh, self-critical thoughts; the same fears and frustrations; the same trading mistakes;
    • We have one overarching problem with multiple manifestations, “and that problem boils down to an impairment of free will.” 
      • When our patterns control us, we are no longer fully self-determining.
  • From Chapter One:  Shifting Our Viewing
    • An important gateway to change is becoming so disgusted with our patterns that we desire nothing more than to exit our fruitless loops.
      • It is when we feel the discomfort of the gap between real and ideal–between the person we are and we person we know we can be–that we are roused to action. “Discomfort thus becomes a powerful gateway to renewal.”
      • Hitting bottom energizes us to find new solutions. 
    • Our great enemy is routine.  Many times, we know what we’re doing wrong, but we keep making the same mistakes.

By William James from Chapter IV “Habit” from The Principles of Psychology, 1890.

  • When we look at living creatures from an outward point of view, one of the first things that strike us is that they are bundles of habits.
  • Water, in flowing, hollows out for itself a channel, which grows broader and deeper; and, after having ceased to flow, it resumes, when it flows again, the path traced by itself before.
  • …Practical applications of the (habit) principles to human life:
    • … habit simplifies the movements required to achieve a given result, makes them more accurate and diminishes fatigue.
    • … habit diminishes the conscious attention with which our acts are performed
  • Most trained domestic animals, dogs and oxen, and omnibus- and car-horses, seem to be machines almost pure and simple, undoubtingly, unhesitatingly doing from minute to minute the duties they have been taught, and giving no sign that the possibility of an alternative ever suggests itself to their mind.
  • Habit is thus the enormous fly-wheel of society, its most precious conservative agent.
  • It is well for the world that in most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again.
  • The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy. It is to fund and capitalize our acquisitions, and live at ease upon the interest of the fund. For this we must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can, and guard against the growing into ways that are likely to be disadvantageous to us, as we should guard against the plague. The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work.


[Lipton_ConsciousnessHealing] Diane Eaton, “Bruce Lipton on the Role of Consciousness in Healing,” NaAtlanta.com, June 30, 2019.

[Marx_AtomicHabits], “How to become 37.78 times better at anything | Atomic Habits summary (by James Clear), Oct 6, 2021 (28:10 mins)

[Rosenberg_NVCTools] Marshall Rosenberg, Living Nonviolent Communication:  Practical Tools to Connect and Communicate Skillfully in Every Situation, Sounds True Inc, 2012.


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