Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (January 19, 2017)
Watch your thoughts for they become your emotions; Watch your emotions for they become your words, Watch your words for they become your actions, Watch your actions for they become your habits, Watch your habits for they become your character, Watch your character for it leads to your destiny.
As we come to the last installment of this self-control series, we look at ‘habits’. However, it’s probably true to say that we don’t need to have self-control over habits, only self-control over our daily actions as those will then naturally form our habits. And our habits, the actions we take regularly, are what form our character.
Take, for example, someone who regularly volunteers his time to help charities; he has the habit of helping others and we would say that compassion is part of his character. Or take someone who shows perseverance and tenacity in every endeavour he takes; his habit is to keep trying no matter how challenging something is and we would say that grit and perseverance are part of his character. Or, using a negative example, someone who regularly chooses to make decisions that only benefits himself and harms others has a selfish character. The daily actions we take form our habits and those habits form our character.
And why do we need to look out for what character we have? Because ultimately, character is what leads to our destiny. A person with good character values of responsibility, compassion, perseverance and the like, will thrive personally and relationally. They will thrive in their personal well-being as well as at work and in friendships.
As we start this new year of 2017, I’ve seen many posts about people’s New Year’s resolutions. It’s that time of the year when everyone has more resolve to change their habits and ‘turn a new leaf’ as they start a new year. Whether it’s doing more exercise, sleeping earlier, eating more healthily or getting in touch with old friends, those who make these New Year’s resolutions do so because they want to improve. The challenging thing about resolutions are keeping them long enough so that they change our habits.
A viral video of a 4-year-old has circulated social media of this girl talking about new year’s resolutions and she makes an insightful and wise (especially for a 4 year old!) comment: “Keep your resolutions, but go easy on yourself. Will you change? Maybe. But it probably won’t happen in one big moment. It’ll happen in thousands of little moments”
So we need to have self-control in the “thousands of little moments” in order to change our habits, which will then reflect on our character.
So what character traits do you want to develop this year? What habits will it take to develop that character? And what will you resolve to have self-control in for “thousands of little moments”?