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Realize who's responsible for actions

We are responsible for the habits that make or break us - not the situation, the environment or our family. In this respect, we are the masters of our fates. We are what we repeatedly do, and become what we pursue.

There is no deep mystery to mastering habits. We make them, and we can break them through similar processes. I suggest the following ways for breaking a bad habit:

- Begin by acting as if you were the kind of person who has a good amount of positive self-worth.

- Eliminate the tendency to engage in undue self-criticism or self-pity.

- Begin by acting as if you were the kind of person you want to be. Remember, repetition is the key to success.

- Replace the bad habit with a good one.

- Don't be afraid to seek assistance from friends and family. Willpower may not be enough to keep the ball rolling. The odds of success increase as you involve others in your efforts.

- Remind yourself that failure is never final. If you are not successful at first accept the fact that you failed, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and begin again.

- Remember that whether you think you can or can't, you're right. - John Waterbury, Salt Lake City


How we did it:

Must want to quit

I am a mother of seven married sons and daughters. When they were young and still at home, I did a lot of raising my voice at them. One day my husband said he disliked hearing me yell at the children and didn't even like to be home when it happened.

I wanted him to enjoy being home, so with a lot of prayer and discipline, I schooled myself to not yell when he was home. It wasn't long before I noticed I wasn't yelling even when he was gone. The next thing I noticed was that, from disuse, I couldn't yell even if I tried. My voice would actually fail.

The older children appreciated the change. The young ones probably don't remember being yelled at, and they all listened to me, rather than tuning out the "noise." I wish every mother would listen to herself, through others, and learn to speak quietly. - Louise Munoa, San Diego, Calif.

Replaced with scriptures

For more than 10 years, I watched one soap opera while rearing children. This was the only time during the day I could sit down and rest. When I decided to give up this bad habit I could hardly get by without watching it daily. Then I decided I must get something to take its place, so every day at the appointed hour, I would read the scriptures. I would read them the entire time the program was aired. It was difficult, but it paid off in gospel knowledge and spiritual dividends. - Phyllis L. Berry, Riverside, Calif.

Recognize habit is wrong

To overcome a bad habit, an individual must first recognize that the habit is wrong. Remorse must come next. Then it should become a matter of prayer. Our Heavenly Father wants us to succeed so asking for strength is a necessity. - Carol Huntsman, Fallon, Nev.

Remember prices paid

Using the following four-step method developed by Dr. Jonathan M. Chamberlain, a psychologist at BYU, I have been aboe to overcome a bad habit I practiced for years:

- Choose a bad habit you're having the most difficult time overcoming.

- Think about how you disown responsibility for doing your bad habit. Who and what do you blame? Think positively about yourself and know that you are the one who can change.

- Think of the prices you must pay for doing this bad habit. There aren't any affordable bad habits. Ask yourself the following questions: "Is it worth paying the price? Is it worth feeling sick, guilty, etc.?"

- Think of the choices you must make to eliminate your bad habit. - Joan P. Sugars, Bend, Ore.

Blessing supplied strength

I had been a heavy tobacco user for several years when my wife and I decided to become active in our new ward. We would attend our meetings on Sunday, and I would struggle with my habit all week. This continued until I finally sought advice from my bishop. After hearing about my habit, he drove me to his first counselor's house and gave me one of the most beautiful blessings I have ever received.

With prayer and thoughts of the promises I received that night, I have had the strength to give up tobacco altogether. And best of all, my wonderful wife and I were able to be sealed in the temple. - Richard L. Long, Salt Lake City

Reward your success

I suggest the following ideas:

- Wear a rubber band on your wrist. If your use of stinging sarcasm is the problem, then each time you slip, stretch the rubber band and flip your wrist.

- Replace bad habits with good habits. Refuse to allow yourself to eat each day until you have accomplished your scripture reading or exercising.

- Reward yourself in some good way for each day free of the bad habit. - Cheryl Christensen, Bridgeton, Mo.

Write them down

In coping with some bad habits that we all encounter, I've found the best way for me is to first point them out, then to write them down. When I see the list, I'm constantly kept aware of the things I have to keep an eye out for. When I find myself getting back into that bad habit, I quickly start humming or singing a favorite hymn. I also pick up my scriptures and read. Within a few moments, the urge to repeat the bad habit leaves and I can go on my merry way. - Roseann Tarr, Pensacola, Fla.

Asked for Lord's help

In March 1959, my family and I moved to Burlington, Iowa. I had not been active in the church for more than 20 years and had acquired terrible language problems. Burlington had a struggling branch with 46 members, most of whom were women and children. My heart went out to these people, and I wondered how I could help.

The branch president called me to teach the gospel doctrine class. I was terrified about teaching and about my foul language. My first thought was prayer, but I was embarrassed to ask for the Lord's help when I had done nothing to be worthy. I had little faith or desire to pray, but I was desperate. I found a private place and prayed. At first it didn't help, and I almost gave up. But after several prayers and lessons without mishaps, I gained confidence.

My language improved at work and at home. Two years later I was called to be a district president. I now don't use vulgar language, and have learned to control my temper by laughing at myself when faced with a stressful situation. - Max F. Johnson, Sun City, Ariz.


How to checklist:

1 Recognize a bad habit is wrong.

2 Replace the bad habit with a good one.

3 Pray for the ability to stop the bad habit.

4 Seek assistance from friends and family.



Jan. 30 "How to maintain spirituality when one must work on Sunday." Feb. 6 "How to influence and help grandchildren without being meddlesome."

Feb. 13 "How to avoid placing too much importance on appearance."

Feb. 20 "How to help someone who has been disfellowshipped or excommunicated."

Feb. 27 "How to have an enjoyable dating relationship when there are few or no church members to date."

March 5 "How to identify a spiritual prompting."

March 12 "How to draw closer as a family through family home evening."

March 19 "How to develop self-reliance and independence."

March 26 "How to improve the quality of your life."

April 2 "How to store sacred records."

Have you had good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.