Change is easier when we focus on starting something positive, not on stopping something negative
. We often become discouraged when we resolve to give up something negative but fail. However, we need to be prepared for such failure, knowing that our conditioned material existence makes change naturally difficult.
The law of inertia keeps physical objects in their existing condition. When extended to our behavioral patterns, this principle locks us into our habitual mental tracks; we keep contemplating, craving and capitulating to familiar sense objects. Why do we stay thus stuck? Because every habit provides us some comfort and pleasure by serving as a predictable routine in our often-unpredictable life. Even if that comfort is limited and even if that pleasure leads to trouble, still losing that routine makes us feel disoriented and deprived, impelling us to relapse.
Far more effective for bringing about change is focusing on starting something positive.
For example, while working, we may feel tempted to take a small break by surfing on the net. During the break, we may often waste our time on unnecessary or agitating things. If we decide, “I won’t take breaks,” that won’t work because we do need breaks. Instead, if we decide to start a new habit wherein we fill our break time with something positive – say, read one Gita verse or one inspiring reflection – focusing on that gives us a sense of excitement and achievement, making change easier.
The Bhagavad-gita (02.60) cautions that even the discerning and determined fail to stop the negative of giving up sense indulgence. But then (02.61) it assures that by starting the positive of connecting with the all-pure, all-attractive supreme reality, Krishna (02.61), we can succeed in attaining self-mastery.
When we thus focus our energy on starting something positive that addresses the need served by the negative, we pave the path to our steady self-transformation.