Creatures of HABIT

The power had been off for hours, yet every time I entered a room (carrying my flashlight) I still reached for the light switch. Whaaaa? 

Every time as I was walking through the darkness I would remind myself NOT to flip the switch. Yet 9 times out of 10 I still did it.  

A few weeks ago we had a major storm and a pole just a couple blocks up my street was struck by lightning and came down, power wires in the wet street and all. We had our power out for 4 days in humid 95 degree weather. July in the South! I can’t tell you how many times I tried to flip fans and lights on! By the third day I started to remember that flipping the light switch would NOT actually turn the light on. 

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I recently had my hot tub removed from behind my house. It sat right by my back door and I used it daily to set things on as I was working in the yard or whatever. It sat there for almost 13 years. After a couple weeks I still walk out the door and automatically reach out to the right as if I am going to set down whatever I am carrying. I’m slowly catching on. (HA!) 

Have you ever checked your mailbox on a holiday when you KNOW there is no mail delivery? You remind yourself as you drive home that there will be no mail…but somehow when you get there you drive or walk right up to that box and check?  

We do function on auto-pilot a lot. Habits can be a good thing because we don’t necessarily have to use our brain power to move through the motions of the day. However, habits, good or bad are very hard to change or break. Let us remember that our habits do not control us, but that we control our habits. So, good habits can be learned and bad habits unlearned.  

The American Journal of Psychology says that, “Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form because the behavioral patterns we repeat are imprinted in our neural pathways, but it is possible to form new habits through repetition.” 

I have recently been focused on taking inventory of my daily habits. Are they working for me or against me? How much time am I wasting doing things that are inconsequential? Am I sitting too long at a time at my desk staring at a screen when I should be getting up to move every 20 to 30 minutes? Am I just being busy or am I moving toward my goals? Am I balancing work and play along with properly appropriating my time between myself, my family and my friends?  

All this can be tough to balance, but inventory of your routine can point out strengths and weaknesses. Some of the things we do “without thinking” can be very detrimental to our health, our wealth, and most importantly our relationships. How much time do we spend watching tv or Netflix? How much time do we spend playing games on our devices or on our social media caring about what other people are doing more than what is happening right in front of us? Do you know that a recent study shows that Americans touch their phones an average of 150 times per day? That means for many, it is a lot more. Much of that is necessary now that we do a lot of business and communication this way, but how much of it is wasted time? 

If you haven’t already, may I suggest that if you have an issue with a bad habit (or ten, lol) that you identify it (if more maybe take them one at a time) and begin to work daily to tackle it. Consciously take a hold of it and change it by repetition. Your innate capacity for habit forming will eventually kick in.  

It may be frustrating at first (I know this first-hand, ugh) but like that light switch that we flip when we walk into a room without even thinking, we will begin to form the habits that will help and not hinder us. We will be present and set our devices aside in lieu of the human company before us. We will eat more healthy choices. We will exercise, get more sleep, accomplish more.  

The better we control our habits, the more successful and effective we will be in life.  

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:10-11

 

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