How do you know whether a particular habit is good or bad? How do you decide? You have been told earlier that what is good and what is bad. That is the way we go about deciding everything - what is right, what is wrong, what is fair, what is unfair - on the basis of criteria that has been given to us in advance. That this is good, this is bad.
Once you know, once you really-really know that what is harmful to you, that what will cause suffering to you, will you still go ahead and do it? Once you see the entire cause-effect chain, do you still go ahead and do it? Once you see yourself, not just believe in somebody's words, not just believe what your parents have told you, or what society has told you, or what religion has told you, once you see it yourself, do you still continue doing it?
I want to ask you a question. What is the definition of 'habit'? Have you ever tried to understand that what is the definition of habit?
Anything that you do daily. But whatever you do daily, is that a habit? Will you call it a 'habit'?
A habit means two things. One, there is a pattern, we do it regularly. Second, we do it without understanding. We do it without being conscious. We are not really aware that this is happening. It just happens because of habit. And if somebody asks you that why do you do this, then you will say,"Oh! It's a habit with me." So that is habit.
There is no utilization of the mind. You don't even think while doing. It just happens like in a machine. A button is pressed and the system starts operating, without understanding that why it is operating that way. That is a habit. So we said two things about habit. One, there is a pattern. And second, it is done without being aware.
In the moments when the habit functions, we do not even know what we do. Later on we may recall, we may repent, we may feel bad. But when the habit is taking place, we have no awareness, and hence no power. You are powerless at that moment. Right in front of the habit, you are totally powerless. Is that so? Yes, there is a force of the habit, and that force is the pattern of the habit. Am I right?
Now, how can there be 'good habits' and 'bad habits'?
Whatever we do regularly but don't understand, is a habit. Can there be good habits? Can there be good habits at all? Because if you say that something is a good habit, then you are also saying that not understanding is good. Because a habit by definition means- "I don't understand but I do." Can anything be a good habit? So let this come to you very clearly, very strongly. No habit is a good habit.
Habit by definition means- "I am doing it just because of conditioning. I am doing it just because I am habituated. I am doing it just because there is a pattern from the past that I am following."
The question then arises: why do we call something as a good habit? Because we have been told that certain things are good and certain things are bad, so we have started calling some habits as 'good' and some habits as 'bad'.
These are the excerpts from my blog prashantadvait.com wherein you can find much more articles to get more clarity on this and other topics. I invite you to visit , read and have more clarity.