Putting A ‘Headlight’ On Our Habits


The car I have been driving for a number of years has a nice feature on it that I enjoy. The lights are automatic! That is, they can be set to turn on and off, automatically, according to the darkness of the surrounding atmosphere. For instance, they will automatically go on when going through long tunnels and then turn off when I drive out of it. The same can be said for day vs night driving. I have become accustomed to driving, without regard to my headlights being on or off. They will, “automatically” take care of me, including turning themselves off after I take the keys out of the ignition. Thus, I am not in the habit of turning them, “on” or “off”.

The habit that I have developed in ignoring my headlights has been causing me problems as not too long ago I rented car which was not equipped to do this. One night I left the headlights on as I got out of the car to go inside to bed. The next day the car was “dead as a door nail” when I got up. I had to call on a family member to give me a jump and vowed to myself that I needed to remember to check the lights manually each time I drove it. Several times during the next few days upon arriving at my destination, I had to go back to the car and turn the lights off. Each time I told myself I wouldn’t do it again. Late one night on my way to visit my sister’s house I stopped for gas. I filled the car up and started driving down the main street of the local town. I hadn’t gotten far when I saw, in my rearview mirror, the lights of a police car flashing behind me. I pulled over and started thinking to myself, “What have I done wrong?” I rehearsed in my mind my driving the last few miles and could think of nothing. So when the officer came to my window I was interested at what he was going to say. He said, “Sir, you are driving without lights!” “I am?,” I said. I looked at the switch to the lights and sure enough, they were on “off.” I quickly turned them on and while sheepishly grinning, told the officer, “This is a rental car. My car has automatic lights so I’m not used to turning them on after I stop.” He smiled pleasantly and replied as he walked away, “It happens!” I think being pulled over has jarred me enough to cure me of my bad habit of not checking my lights. Perhaps!

One of David O. McKay’s favorite sayings was “We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions; we sow our actions, and we reap our habits; we sow our habits, and we reap our characters; we sow our characters, and we reap our destiny.” (C. A. Hall, The Home Book of Quotations, New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1935, p. 845.)

Habits! They can be the greatest blessings in our lives or the greatest curse! Some of our habits are so ingrained into our character that we scarcely know they are habits. Let us look at our habits! Let us put a “headlight” on them and examine if they are worthy of change. There is at least one bad habit in each of us worthy of discard!

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