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Breaking bad habits

From the August 25, 1980 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

There are good habits. There are bad ones. The good ones deserve to be developed. The bad need to be broken.

Good habits can be cultivated by understanding that spiritual truths sustain right action. Action derived from divine Mind is far from unthinking repetition; it is the orderly and regular exercise of spiritual intelligence, of purposeful thought. The more we love to do God's will, the more we realize that good habits exhibit qualities far beyond mere human patterns and routine; they take on characteristics of vitality, joy, inspiration.

When we are in the habit of doing something constructive, unselfish, useful each day, we feel good about it. That's because such regular and consistent right action has its roots in good, in God. It is not simply a repetition of material acts.

If, on the other hand, we find ourselves in the web of an unsound habit, we do feel bad about it—eventually. We feel bad because such habits are rooted in materialistic thinking, which is the opposite of Godlike spirituality. But an individual can break free of bad habits, whether he is a child who bites his fingernails or an adult who has developed a lifelong pattern of objectionable behavior. Such wrongful inclinations can be alleviated, even wiped out, by understanding better the metaphysical concept of eternity and what effect it has on the mortal concept of time.

Bad habits are a product of time. That is, they are essentially a sequence of mortal events—a repetition of material thoughts and acts set within the framework of time. They are not rooted in fresh, intelligent action impelled by Mind—as are good habits.

If man were a mortal, existing in time, existing within an evolution of material events, then we would have little to help us break bad habits, except perhaps mortal will; and mortal will is part of the problem, not its solution.

But the fact is that man does not live in time. He is spiritual, living as the reflection of immortal Mind. Man exists in eternity. God's perfect universe—all of it—is eternal, never including time-based material events. Eternity is not the elongation of time. It is the elimination of time.

Life and its eternally fresh creation are the only reality. Mere repetition of mortally impelled actions is mindless—Mindless. Life is eternally new. It is not the constant and tedious rehearsal of materiality. The discovery that our expression of Life is actually eternal breaks down the time-based repetition of mortal behavior and brings to light more of man's permanent, consistent manifestation of good.

In eternity, the unending presence of divine Life, there are no bad habits. There is only the fresh, constant activity of Mind, hinted at in what we call good habits. Unintelligent action is no part of Life, God. In reality, perfection is invariably expressed. God's infinite goodness is not a matter of repetitive human behavior; it is a matter of constant and unalterable reality.

Because God is Life, the infinite substance of being, eternity is the true basis of existence. Man lives in eternity—not in mortality. He is not a creature of material habits. He is the expression of immortal Life. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Man has perpetual individuality; and God's laws, and their intelligent and harmonious action, constitute his individuality in the Science of Soul." No and Yes, p. 11;

And immortality, eternity, does not include elements of time. Eternity is the uninterrupted, constant now. We can begin to understand the presence of eternity and the absence of time. Then erring habits, because they are sustained by time-oriented repetition, dissipate and finally evaporate. Today is a day for discovering that Life is All and that eternity is actually here, now; and with this realization wrongful habits are robbed of their fundamental substance—time. Mrs. Eddy insists: "Eternity, not time, expresses the thought of Life, and time is no part of eternity. One ceases in proportion as the other is recognized." Science and Health, p. 468;

Sometimes people feel that a given type of conduct has continued for so many years that the pattern would be virtually impossible to break. But how much power does a year (or ten or fifty years) have when compared with the power eternity, Life itself, holds over us? The Bible says of God, "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past." Ps. 90:4.

The presumed power of time, embracing years of wrong habit, wilts in the face of eternity, which unfailingly provides perfection. As we are irresistibly drawn to eternity, we are permanently protected from the claims of time. This is a perpetual spiritual fact, and when we allow the Christ to imbue consciousness with its significance, mortal habits—dependent on a span of time for existence—lose their continuity, even their identity.

No evil habit can endure divine Life, because it is wrapped in time, while true action is clothed in and impelled by the eternity of Life. Our growing love of Life—its continuity and immortality—will erase the beliefs of time and free us from wrongful patterns of behavior.

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