All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits,— practical, emotional, and intellectual,— systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.
Habit is thus a second nature, or rather, as the Duke of Wellington said, it is ‘ten times nature,’
So far as we are thus mere bundles of habit, we are stereotyped creatures, imitators and copiers of our past selves.
To quote my earlier book directly, the great thing in all education is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.
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.
There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work are subjects of express volitional deliberation.
Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you aspire to gain. It is not in the moment of their forming, but in the moment of their producing motor effects, that resolves and aspirations communicate the new ‘set’ to the brain.
A ‘character,’ as J.S. Mill says, ‘is a completely fashioned will’; and a will, in the sense in which he means it, is an aggregate of tendencies to act in a firm and prompt and definite way upon all the principal emergencies of life. A tendency to act only becomes effectively ingrained in us in proportion to the uninterrupted frequency with which the actions actually occur, and the brain ‘grows’ to their use.
But we do not attack these things concretely, and we do not begin today. We forget that every good that is worth possessing must be paid for in strokes of daily effort. We postpone and postpone, until those smiling possibilities are dead.
Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be systematically heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than its difficulty, so that, when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test. Asceticism of this sort is like the insurance which a man pays on his house and goods. The tax does him no good at the time, and possibly may never bring him a return. But, if the fire does come, his having paid it will be his salvation from ruin. So with the man who has daily inured himself to habits of concentrated attention, energetic volition, and self-denial in unnecessary things. He will stand like a tower when everything rocks around him, and his softer fellow-mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast.
As we become permanent drunkards by so many separate drinks, so we become saints in the moral, and authorities and experts in the practical and scientific spheres, by so many separate acts and hours of work. Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever the line of it may be. If he keep faithfully busy each hour of the working day, he may safely leave the final result to itself. He can with perfect certainty count on waking up some fine morning to find himself one of the competent ones of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out.
William James was the father of modern psychology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_James
Act I: The Discovery of Conflict Invigoration
I recently discovered a phenomenon common among many highly successful people. I'm calling it "conflict invigoration" - this is a personality trait, a mixed blessing and curse. It's the kind of person who can move heaven and earth when inspired, but doesn't do as well when they aren't... and who is always invigorated by a fight.
I first noticed conflict invigoration among a number of the most successful people I knew personally. See, I don't think this is an entirely new observation, but a lot of the people that reach stratospheric levels of success are kind of deranged. You almost have to be, to keep going after you've "won" by every conceivable measure, to work yourself to the bone at the expense of your sanity and longevity and vitality, to neglect so many of the basic human needs and pleasures and comforts.
I saw this trait in lots of successful people, and then I started paying attention to biographies and histories. Indeed, many of the most expansive people in our generation and previous ones are conflict invigorated - they've perhaps always got a baseline of creativity and striving, but it really comes out when a fight breaks out.
"Competition is always a fantastic thing, and the computer industry is intensely competitive." - Bill Gates
The sovereignty of the heavens and the earth belongs to Allâh. Allâh’s Will is all-pervading and nothing good or evil falls outside its orbit. It is His Will that prevails everywhere. Not even a leaf stirs without His Will andnot a sparrow falls to the ground unless He wills so. He is Wise and Loving, and whatever He does must have a good motive and meaningful purpose although our limited intellect may fail to understand it fully. The concept of predestination in Islamdoes not mean the helpless abandonment of human beings to an unwelcome fate. The basic principle of predestination and freewill is that man is neither completely the master of his fate nor is he bound to the blind law of predestination. The idea that Allâh has a foreknowledge of everything does not imply that human beings have been completely deprived of the freedom of action. The knowledge given to man to discriminate between good would be of no useif he had no choice to act on his own. Man would not be subjected to questioning on the Day of Judgment if he were not ultimately responsible for his actions. He would not be rewarded or punished for matters over which he had no control or freedom. He would not be held accountable for histransgressions if he were not endowed with freewill and if everything happens according to divine decree. Right and wrong have been clearly defined and man has been endowed with intelligence to distinguish between them. There are two paths before him and he has been provided with the freewill to choose either ofthem. The uphill path leads to salvation, whereas the downhill path leads to eternal torment and ruin.
"Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it): for the wrong-doers We have prepared a Fire. " [The Qurân Ch: 18 Al-Kahf, V: 29]