Paramahansa Yogananda Best Quotes — How to Change Yourself
Change Your Thoughts
Change your thoughts if you would change your circumstances. Since you alone are responsible for what goes on in your mind, only you can change your thoughts.
You will want to change them when you realize that each thought creates according to its nature. Remember that the law works at all times and that your words and actions are continually demonstrating the kind of thoughts you habitually entertain. (os)
How to Change Yourself
If you feel that your character is not what you think it should be, remember that it was molded by none other than yourself. Certainly there are outside influences, but inner acceptance is the determining factor. If everyone says that Johnny is a bad boy, and Johnny accepts that condemnation, he may not make the effort to be good; he adopts that negative thought. But if he had refused to accept it, he could have been different.
One must never give up hope of becoming better. A person is old only when he refuses to make the effort to change. That stagnant state is the only "old age" I recognize. When a person says again and again, "I can't change; this is the way I am," then I have to say, "All right, stay that way, since you have made up your mind to be like that." ...
The nature of habit can be understood by this analogy: Clay can be molded into a vase; and while the clay is still soft it is easy to change the form of that vase again and again. But once it is fired in an oven, its shape becomes firmly set. So it is with your consciousness. Your thoughts are molding your actions, and your mental convictions from the repetition of those actions is the fire that hardens the thoughts into unyielding habit patterns. ...
If you have molded clay into a vase and fired it, and now you want to make that object into a tray, you cannot do so. But you can pulverize the vase and add that powder to fresh clay, and then form it into a tray. Likewise, when a bad habit is fixed in your mind and you want to change it, you will have to use your strong will to pulverize that habit and absorb it into fresh, pliable good actions that can be remolded to the desired image. Strong will means strong conviction. The minute you say to yourself, "I am not bound by this habit," and mean it, the habit will be gone.
Look within and determine your main characteristics. Some love to write, or compose music, or dance; others enjoy finance and economics, and so on. Unfortunately, some love to gossip, and others to fight. Don't try to change in yourself what is good. But those things you do against your will, and that make you unhappy after you have done them, are what you want to get rid of. How? Affirm with conviction, before going to bed and on arising in the morning,
"I can change.
I have the will to change.
I will change!"
Hold to that thought throughout the day, and carry it with you into the subconscious land of sleep and the superconscious realm of meditation. ...
You must be free—unenslaved by habits, or the wish to please society, or anything else. To be able to do, not what you want to do but what you should do for your own highest welfare, that is freedom. ...
Remolding your consciousness means exercising free will guided by discrimination and energized by will power. Discrimination is your keen eyesight and will is your power of locomotion. Without will, you may know what is right through discrimination and yet not act on it. It is acting on knowledge that gets you to your goal. So both discrimination and will are necessary.
Will power is easy to develop. Try first for small accomplishments. Gradually you will get rid of tendencies you thought you could not overcome. Watch your consciousness. Develop the habit of self-examination, of watching and analyzing your thoughts and behavior. When there are telltale signs of bad habits or inclinations, that is the time to discriminate and resist with will power. ...
Habits are simply thoughts grooved deeply into the brain. The needle of the mind plays those records of habits again and again. Even the chemistry of the body responds, as with addiction. Applying mind and will can change those patterns. Don't immediately attempt dramatic changes. Experiment in little things first, to train your inherent power of command. ...
We are what we think we are. The habitual inclination of our thoughts determines our talents and abilities, and our personality. ...
So whatever you want to be, start to develop that pattern now. You can instill any trend in your consciousness right now, provided you inject a strong thought in your mind; then your actions and whole being will obey that thought. Do not settle for a one-track mentality. You should be able to succeed in any profession or do anything you put your mind to. ...
Thought is the matrix of all creation; thought created everything. If you hold on to that truth with indomitable will, you can materialize any thought. There is nothing that can gainsay it. It was by that kind of powerful thought that Christ rebuilt his crucified body, and it is what he referred to when he said, "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."* [Mark 11:24] ...
Once you have said, "I will," never give in. If you say, "I will never catch cold," and the next morning you have a terrible cold and are discouraged, you are allowing your will to remain weak. You must not get discouraged when you see something happening that is contrary to what you have affirmed. Keep on believing, knowing it will be so. If outwardly you say, "I will," but inwardly think, "I can't," then you neutralize the power of thought and emasculate your will. If your will has become weakened by fighting disease or other reverses, you have to take the help of someone else's will to strengthen you through their prayers and positive affirmations on your behalf. But you must also do your part to change your consciousness. That is my advice to you. Develop your will power and positive thinking, and you will find your body, mind, and soul working to mold everything in your life according to your will.
As thought is the most powerful agent in your life, provided you know how to develop and use it, never let the power of your thought be diluted by mixing with weak-minded or negative people—unless you are very strong-minded and can instead strengthen those persons. Failures should align themselves with successful people. The weak should seek the company of those who are stronger. People who have no self-control should associate with those who are self-disciplined...
And throughout the day's activities, think that it is God who is working through you. Give the responsibility to Him. He who thinks of God all the time, can he do wrong? Even if he happens to err, God knows it was his wish to do right. Give everything to God, and you will change because then the human ego can no longer dictate to you.
No matter what comes to you, just say, "God knows best. It is He who is giving me this suffering; it is He who is making me happy." With this attitude, all your nightmares of life will change into a beautiful dream of God.
Darkness is the absence of light. Delusion is darkness, Reality is light. Your eyes of wisdom are closed, so you see only the darkness, and you are suffering in that delusion. Change your consciousness; open your eyes and you will see in the stars the sparkle of that Divine Light. In every atom of space you will see the twinkle of God's light of laughter. Behind every thought you shall feel the ocean of His wisdom.
The dance of life and death, prosperity and failure, have no reality except as dreams of God. Realize this, and you shall see that it is materialized thoughts that are dancing around you, and that you are the ocean of thought. Nothing can stay nor hurt you.
Now I ask you to close your eyes and think of one bad habit you want to get rid of. If you concentrate with me as I say the words in Spirit, and you believe, you shall be free of that habit. Throw away the thought that you cannot give up whatever it is. I am sending a strong thought into your consciousness that right now you are rid of that habit. Affirm with me:
"I am free of that habit now!
I am free!"
Hold on to that thought of freedom, forget the bad habit. Many of you will find that the habit you have willed away will never come back again.
Repeat after me: "I shall remold my consciousness. In this new year I am a new person. And I shall change my consciousness again and again until I have driven away all the darkness of ignorance and manifested the shining light of Spirit in whose image I am made." (Excerpts from Remolding Your Life - Journey to Self-Realization)
HOW TO CHANGE OTHERS
Let your example be the way to change others lives. Reform yourself and you will reform thousands.
Man is like a puppet. The strings of his habits, emotions, passions, and senses make him dance to their bidding. They bind his soul.
Even if you were to flee to the jungle, your old habits would be with you still. You can't run away from them, so you may as well strive to overcome them. Clear out the jungle of your wrong habits. Then you will be free.
Your greatest enemies are your bad habits. They will follow you from one incarnation to another until you overcome them. In order to free yourself from fate, you must cure yourself of bad habits. How? Good company is one of the best medicines. If you have a tendency to drink, mix with people who do not. If you are suffering from ill health, be with people who have positive minds, who don't think about sickness. If you have the consciousness of failure, associate with those who have the consciousness of success. Then you will begin to change.
Each of your habits creates a specific "groove," or pathway, in the brain. These patterns make you behave in a certain way, often against your wish. Your life follows those grooves that you yourself have created in the brain. In that sense you are not a free person; you are more or less a victim of the habits you have formed. Depending on how set those patterns are, to that degree you are a puppet. But you can neutralize the dictates of those bad habits. How? By creating brain patterns of opposite good habits. And you can completely erase the grooves of bad habits by meditation. There is no other way. However, you can't cultivate good habits without good company and good environment. And you can't free yourself from bad habits without good company and meditation.
Even if you were to flee to the jungle, your old habits would be with you still. You can't run away from them, so you may as well strive to overcome them. Clear out the jungle of your wrong habits. Then you will be free. (dr)
Success is hastened or delayed by one’s habits. It is not your passing inspirations or brilliant ideas so much as your everyday mental habits that control your life.
You are in a cocoon of your own bad habits, and you must be freed to spread its wings of beautiful divine qualities.
Don’t keep feeding your bad habits with fresh actions that strengthen them.
Through the senses we learn to like things that are pleasing to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. The desire for particular sensation becomes a habit.
Never abuse the sensory powers by overindulgence, if you would be really happy. ‘Ever fed, never satisfied; never fed, ever satisfied’ is a true axiom about unwholesome sense experiences.
At the right time, and in the right environment, all good and bad actions of the past come to fruition, just as seeds sprout under the right conditions. This explains why it is important always to mix with good company. You don't know what kinds of seeds, whether of disease or other negative happenings, are dormant within you. Suppose you have in your consciousness from the past the seeds of craving for drink. You have never drunk in this life, but one day you take a drink at a party, and suddenly you are caught up in the desire for liquor. Eventually you become addicted to it again. The tendencies were already buried within you as a result of past living; your present actions provided the necessary conditions for their resurrection. (dr)
All bad habits, and their enjoyer, the ego, are very tenacious and monopolizing in their claims on human beings. No matter how pernicious in its effect a habit is, it is hard to remove because of the ego's attachment to it. When a person sincerely tries repeatedly to get rid of a bad habit and does not succeed, he becomes despondent and cannot summon up courageous thoughts. Bad habits almost paralyze the will. The victim helplessly thinks: "What is the use of trying?"
Mental slavery to a sense habit is the result of continued repetition of the specific act that gives birth to a particular habit. By attentively thinking about a certain thing every day, an individual makes that thing a part of his consciousness. When a habit becomes an integral facet of one's thought, it becomes "second nature." This "second nature" is so powerful it convinces one that he can never get rid of his own "nature," even if in exchange he were to receive a whole world of superior satisfaction.
How many people are convinced that they cannot sacrifice even a little sleep to attain the high bliss of meditation. Some think that they could never give up living on the sex plane, even if they received in exchange the ever new joy of Eternal God. Others are sure they could never give up one iota of attachment to family, friends, fame, or any portion of material success in order to acquire divine bliss. Because most people have no true basis of comparison, they cannot separate sense pleasures from their conception of soul pleasures. Continuously catering to sense demands, they thus involve themselves in ever-growing dissatisfactions, disillusionments, and suffocating inner afflictions.
Only when one pleasure after another fails him does man finally begin to wonder if, after all, happiness is possible through the senses. This thought has a liberating effect: man tries to find joy in meditation, in silence, in wisdom, in service, in contentment, and in self-control. (bg)