The Dancing Puritan

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lets Talk About Habits


In The Power of Habit Charles Duhigg writes about how even small changes in one's life can lead to powerful habits.  Lets talk about habits today!

The old rule of thumb (origins debated) is that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. The latest research points to something closer to 60 days.

A habit is something that one does automatically. They have done it (whatever it may be) for so long
that it is now a part of the core of who they are. In fact it is really hard to not engage in a habit. And habits are not only vices but also virtues. Sometimes habits are a mixture of vice and virtue. I have a habit of drinking at least one milkshake every night. It is automatic! Is it a vice?  Is it a virtue? Is it a mixture?

A few days ago I embarked on a journey of writing a letter to my beloved Lori each day for eight days (today was day six). Is it a habit yet?  I don't think so, however, it is on my mind each morning and something that I look forward to. I am hopeful that day eight will not be the end of my habit.

I am trying to develop new and good habits. Purposefully doing good things on schedule has a way of cultivating a delight in doing those good things.

For example I look forward to getting up early every morning and reading. My goal is to be in my chair with coffee in hand by five am. I then read the Bible, pray and read sections in several books.  Following my time of reading I write Lori a letter. While writing her I am reading from the Song of Solomon (SOS). SOS gives me the language of love. For example, today I was in chapter six.  I focused on the phrases, my beloved and my love. Why do folks not use those phrases these days?  We say, my wife or my husband.  But we don't usually say, my beloved.  My beloved means more, it seems to me, than my wife. My beloved indicates joy, treasure, delight, security and happiness. I like the words, my wife.  I love the phrase, my beloved. I digress except that one habit feeds another habit.  Reading encourages writing. Writing motivates reading. To cultivate a deepening of the roots of my hopeful habit of letter writing to Lori, SOS gives me a language.

After breakfast I write my blog post and then I am on my way to a day that is packed full of work.

The point is that doing good things consistently—even when my heart is not fully into it—usually brings the result of changing my heart over a period of time.

What good habits, that might bring great results in your life, do you need to cultivate?  Remember it will take some time for your good things to become automatic. It will likely take more than 21 days. It may take 60 days or longer. It will be worth it. A good habit wedded to a joyful heart cultivates a purposeful life.

You already have a lot of habits. Some need to be exploded. Others need to be fed. Make a list of some good habits that you could develop that would make a real difference in your church, family and marriage.  And get started. Today should be day one to a lifetime of good habits.