Q & A With Thay: How Do I Transform Bad Habits?


Q. How can we become aware of, and change, bad habits?

A. Negative habit energy always tries to emerge, but if you are mindful, you recognize it. Mindfulness helps us to recognize the habits transmitted by our ancestors and parents or learned during our child-hood. Often, just recognizing them will make them lose their hold on you. Suppose you have the habbit of getting into a hurried state while doing such things as shopping or cooking. With mindfulness you recognize that you are rushing around and knocking things over, trying to finish quickly. Then you realize the energy of being in a hurry has manifested itself. So you breathe in and out mindfully, and you say, “My dear habit energy, here you are again.” And as soon as you recognize it, it will lose its strength.

If it comes back again, you do it again, and it will continue to lose its strength. You don’t have to fight it, just recognize and smile at it. Every time you recognize it, it becomes a little bit weaker until, eventually, it can’t control you anymore. 

Thich Nhat Hanh, Answers From the Heart.  Parallax Press, P.19-20
Photo by Jema Smith from the Creative Commons