Minute #486: Permanent Change

“I’ve tried so many times to lose weight, but I just gain it back.”

“I know smoking is harmful to my health, so every few months I stop — but only start again a short time later.”

Unfortunately, too many of us can identify with the statements above. Habits and behavioral patterns that are admittedly harmful are hard to abandon, even when healthy instincts for self-preservation prompt us to try. We’ve tried to change and have failed to maintain the changes.

The problem is that most will alter a behavior but will not go so far as to transform their environment to one that discourages the bad behavior and encourages the new, positive pattern of healthy living. What may be needed is a change of job or leisure-time activity, or maybe even a physical change of location. Most difficult is turning away from friends who are socially popular but negative to spiritual growth.

In the realm of the spiritual, one sins because when confronted with temptation, s/he is too weak to fight off desire and the wiles of the yetzer hara. Once the resolution is made to repent and mend one’s ways, success is dependent on avoiding the traps that snared the sinner in the first place. One who fails in maintaining kashrut must avoid situations where non-kosher offerings tempt the palate. One who has trouble guarding his eyes should stay away from situations that will draw a sinful glance.

If one is driving on a highway in the wrong direction, one must first get off the road and then get back on — on the other side — headed in the right direction. Make sure you are on the true path to your desired destination in life.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Rabbi Yitzchak Blauser pointed out (Kochvei Ohr, pp. 31–32) that although humans have a tremendous number of advantages over animals, one can still learn from animals to live totally in the present. They have no worries or anxieties about the future. We should learn from the beasts and free ourselves of needless thoughts about the future. (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Gateway to Happiness, p. 153)