Additional Quotes on Managing Habits

As mentioned in “Resources on Habits – to Change or Acquire Them,” whether aware or unaware of them, acquired habits of behaviors, actions and thoughts influence one’s kendo and life significantly.  In addition to the quotes under the “Habits” section in Shinsa and Shiai – Quotes for Inspiration (Part 1), here are some more to help manage one’s habits – organized as follows:

  • Quotes on Various Aspects of Habits:
    • About Habits
      • Importance
      • Bad Ones
      • How Habits Support Success and Excellence
      • Character
      • Life
      • Parents and Children
    • In Practice
      • Maintenance
      • Selection of Habits,
  • In-depth Ones 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.
    • By William James, Chapter IV “Habit” from The Principles of Psychology, 1890.

Quotes on Various Aspects of Habits

  • About Habits:
    • Importance of Habits
      • 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.
      • 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)
    • On Bad Habits:
      • The best way to stop a bad habit is to never begin it.  – J. C. Penney.
      • 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.
      • 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.
      • 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.
      • 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.
    • 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 of 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.
  • 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.

In-depth Ones

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”)

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 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.


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