Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Good Habits

This morning I thought about habits in my own life and how they work. It's amazing to me how powerful a habit can be for good. According to a habit is "an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary."

Most of what I do is because of habits. There are many habits learned as a child that carry on for a lifetime. One example is bringing my Bible to church on Sunday mornings. That's a habit I didn't think much about until I saw how many children don't bring their Bibles - that habit hasn't yet been developed by them, but hopefully will be at some point. Other examples are things like brushing teeth, drinking coffee (or hating the taste as I do), reading before you go to sleep and more.

There are many bad habits that can be developed. A habit is I guess similar to an addiction. It's something you do just at times because you have an unconscious desire to do it. If aware of habit forming things, you can look at situations and consciously choose a habit that you would like to carry on for life. For example, in college if you eat in the cafeteria you could drink coke products with every meal. I do like coke (as people in the south call all varieties soft drinks) and could have easily developed that habit of drinking it most of the time. I do also like water and had a habit of drinking it with meals due to how I was raised. Since I realized that if I started a "coke habit" in college I would probably want to continue it later, I chose to drink water as a default and only occasionally drink coke.

It seems most of what I hear about habits deal with breaking bad ones instead of developing the good. Usually a bad habit can only be broken if it is replaced with something else. A google search for "bad habit" brought 1,890,000 results and "good habit" brought 402,000. So from that unscientific survey, we read and write more about the bad ones.

But, back to this morning. When I was about half a mile down the road, I wondered why in the world I do this. I don't really like to get up early, I don't like to run, I don't like being hot (or cold) so why in the world am I outside before light? The answer for today was simple: it's a habit. I don't think much about what time to set my alarm for each night. It goes off around 5 and I get up a little later, get my shoes and head for the door.

If you dig deeper into my reasoning, you'll find that I consciously chose to develop that habit almost two years ago and that I do enjoy having exerted energy in running. I also enjoy being outside each day. I walk instead of running every other day and I like walking as well because it gives me a chance to somewhat randomly thing about strange things like this.

There are other habits that I would like to develop. I have an idea of what a "perfect Miriam" would do and at times try to introduce a new habit. Things like keeping an organized and filed office at work, or always straightening my room at home, or stretching before and after I run are a few of the habits I don't yet have, but wish I did. I've tried at times to establish these habits, but haven't yet had success. As I think about these and other habit, I think I will chose one and strive to implement the action long enough to make it a habit. The real question is: which one shall I chose?


Lydia said...

Hey Miriam!
Good post about habits! I've started the habit of getting up at 6am and walking with Elijah, Anna, and Jubilee. It has been fun to be able to do it together - though I don't alway feel like moving when I hear my alarm. It's worth it and helps me start the day.

Luke said...

Luke juse read in devotions to our children tonight that little things (like habits) make a big impact on who you are as a person. You are right like in the Bible that when we are faithful in the little things that we are entrusted with more and become more responsible people. (not to mention achy from all that running! hee hee!)

love ya,

Miriam said...

Lydia didn't realize you all were getting up to walk each morning - that's pretty cool!

Michele, I'm reminded another way of how a little habit makes a big difference whenever I see those commercials for the "miracle machine x" that with 5 minutes a day will transform your body into this amazingly muscular body (that is actually somewhat ugly!). Getting back into running after the Chicago trip is tough. I have to remind myself that I like to have run (even if I don't actually enjoy running)!

Luke said...

I tell myself "you will be glad when you are done running", which is usually true. I feel better after exercising, have more energy and am ready for the day. It is hard getting up early to do it, but that is the best time for me.
Yes, it is neat to see the consistancy of doing something become part of your daily life.

On the flip side, practicing sinful habits can also affect your life whether it is how your respond to situations or sinful thoughts, etc. God tells us to put off the old and put on the new. He knows how we need those good habits to replace the old!