The Aggregate of Tendencies To Act

habit 2

I came across this quote in my daily inspiration reading (a powerful habit that I’ve developed) that has definitely impacted my life.  I’ve read it before, but it seemed to really hit me today.  So I wanted to share it.

In everything that I have ever attempted, I have found the best results when I turn scattered action into firm and consistent habit.  In everything that I have failed in, when I really assess my behaviour, I find that there weren’t enough actions (consistent habits) behind my intentions:

Here is the quote (from the great American Psychologist and Philosopher William James):

No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one has not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better.  With mere good intentions, hell is proverbially paved. And this is an obvious consequence of the principles we have laid down.  A ‘character’ is a completely fashioned will; and a will, 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.  Every time a resolve or a fine glow of feeling evaporates without bearing practical fruit is worse than a chance lost; it works so as to positively hinder future resolutions and emotions from taking the normal path of discharge.  There is no more contemptible type of human character than that of the nerveless sentimentalist and dreamer, who spends his life in a weltering sea of sensibility and emotion, but who never does a manly concrete deed.   

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