Would it not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread or if they even, like the writer of the letter to the New Statesman, saved on fuel and ate their carrots raw? Yes, it would, but the point is that no ordinary human being is ever going to do such a thing. The ordinary human being would sooner starve than live on brown bread and raw carrots. And the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an unemployed man doesn’t. Here the tendency of which I spoke at the end of the last chapter comes into play. When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored, and miserable, you don’t want to eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit ‘tasty’. There is always some cheaply pleasant thing to tempt you.
Habit accustoms us to everything. What we see too much, we no longer imagine; and it is only imagination which makes us feel the ills of others.[L’habitude accoutume à tout; ce qu’on voit trop on ne l’imagine plus, et ce n’est que l’imagination qui nous fait sentir les maux d’autrui.]
Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.
We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us toward death, the body maintains its irreparable lead.[Nous prenons l’habitude de vivre avant d’acquérir celle de penser. Dans cette course qui nous précipite tous les jours un peu plus vers la mort, le corps garde cette avance irréparable.]
Until you have formed the habit of looking for the good instead of the bad there is in others, you will be neither successful nor happy.
To what purpose all this, but to shew that the difference so observable in men’s understandings and parts, does not arise so much from natural faculties as acquired habits?
The world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.
The mere habit of learning to love is the thing; and a teachableness of disposition in a young lady is a great blessing.