One of the greatest weaknesses or flaws in the human design is that we function on habits.
If you observe yourself throughout the course of a day, you will find that the vast majority of things you say or do and even think, are automatic and repetitive, basically habitual functions.
This is why when something out of the ordinary happens, we are caught for a moment in a blank state, stunned as it were, and not knowing what to do.
There are some people who are of course quick and sharp witted and can respond to new situations instantly, but we are not all James Bond or Jason Bourne. Normal people get stuck in that moment of being shocked with something totally unexpected. This proves how much of your life is merely habitual responses that you could do 'with your eyes closed' or 'in your sleep'.
These sayings have developed because of the fact that we are nothing more than a collection of habits, functioning effectively in a state of conscious sleep.
Now, we will establish how habits are formed, which is very simple; repeat the same action or thought long enough and it becomes a habit.
From a spiritual and meditative perspective, this is one part of the two part value of mantras. A mantra is a word or short phrase that one repeats during meditation. The mantra is meant to focus your mind during meditation so that you stay present and not drift off to other thoughts, day dreaming or to sleep.
The second part of the value of a mantra is that if repeated long and often enough, it programs a thought habit in your mind.
Humans are essentially weak minded creatures.
Like all habits, forming one automatically is easy but to create one consciously is difficult. This means that if we are living in a situation where, for example, food is served to us at exactly the same time every day, we get in the habit of being hungry at that time of day regardless of if we want to or not.
This shows how we are no different than any wild animal. In Maldives the resort would feed the wild stingrays every day at 5:00. The rays, sharks and other fish would all come to the feeding spot starting at 4:30. That is how strong a habit can be to any animal, it can even tell time perfectly.
However, if we have to put in the effort to think and repeat a thought constantly, that is very difficult because our mind will go to its habitual way of functioning and drift to daydreams or other thoughts it is used to thinking.
Try This Exercise
Now we come to the personal challenge. To find a thought that you want to be playing in your head at all times which will replace and supersede the current random or negative thoughts you currently have.
Once you have found that thought, to repeat it constantly. When you realize you are not saying it, start saying it. It is that simple.
Music has a way of helping words stick in our mind, and so if you can make up or get a tune and replace the lyrics with your words, and play that song constantly, it will have the same effect as being fed your meal at exactly the same time every day.
Eventually your mind, like your body, will have those words as its default thoughts for when you are not consciously thinking. Meaning, when you go off in a daydream, those are the thoughts you will have.
For example, if you are a very sensitive person and get upset easily, it is commonly due to feeling that everyone wants to hurt you. If you choose as your mantra; "It's not personal" eventually, when someone says something that would normally upset you, the new habit will be to not take it personally and then you will not get upset.
If you examine the human being objectively, you will find that it is a relatively dumb animal, meaning it is easily programmed and the individual rarely thinks for itself. The difference a human has over other creatures is that it has the freedom, or at least potential, freedom of choice.
This powerful freedom allows us to choose to use our weakness to our advantage. If I am not just a dumb animal that follows whatever it is programmed to do, I have the potential to choose my own habits.
This is where you as an individual test if you actually have freedom of choice or not. If you do, then why are you staying as a robotic dumb animal with bad habits instead of choosing to master your mind and life?
The answer is actually quite simple, we call it self-lying. The reason you do not use your free will is because you believe you are far more consciously independent and in control of your mind and life than you actually are.
Basically, you reject the idea that you are nothing more than a dumb animal that never thinks for itself but only functions based on habits it acquired as it grew up.
When you accept the truth about yourself, which is not very pleasant or complimentary, only then will you have the opportunity to change. If you reject this and continue to believe what is not true, then you will stay the same.
We have given you enough examples to test and prove the truth of what you are, now it is up to you to have the courage to change it. The stakes are pretty high, the life you will live.