“The hell which theology once taught is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves by habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way. Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state. We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every small stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar. The drunken Rip Van Winkle excuses each drink he takes by saying, ’I won’t count this time.’ He may not count it, and a kind heaven may not count it, but down among his nerve cells and in the muscle fibres, the molecules are counting it, registering and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes. Nothing we do in a strict, scientific sense is ever wiped out; each thought and every deed is registered in the soul and helps to compose that book out of which we will be judged on that great final day when we are called upon to render an account of our stewardship.”
Notwithstanding the difficulty, however, habits may be strengthened, or abolished. The older they are the more difficult they will be to modify; the chief factor involved is the amount of labor required to make the change, the possibility of making it need never be questioned. Breaking the habit of excessive use of drugs, tobacco, tea and coffee, or alcohol, will occasion much discomfort, hardship, and even functional disturbance, but these ills are only temporary, and the organism soon returns to its original normal condition.
To break a well-established habit requires common sense, decision and strength of purpose. “If you want to abolish a habit, you must grapple with the matter as earnestly as you would with a physical enemy. You must go into the encounter with all tenacity of determination, with all fierceness of resolve, with a passion for success that may be called vindictive. No human enemy can be as insidious, as persevering, as unrelenting as an unfavorable habit. It never sleeps, it needs no rest, it has no tendency toward vacillation and lack of purpose. It is like the parasite that grows with the growth of the supporting body and like a parasite, it can best be killed by violent separation and crushing.
“Every time we make an unsuccessful attempt, the final crushing is indefinitely postponed, every time we put off the attempt, the desired result fades farther and farther away. The habit persists and from time to time the path becomes deeper and broader. In addition, during such a period of weakness and indecision, you may be fostering another habit, that of expecting defeat. From this lack of confidence and little faith in yourself and destiny, you must by all means escape at any cost. There is nothing more pathetic than the man who does not believe in himself. No one else will believe in him. But he who has the enthusiasm of belief in himself and never loses sight of his high purpose is the one who can perform wonders.”