According to the dictionary the
definition of habit is "an acquired behavior pattern, regularly
followed until it has become almost involuntary."
Do you know anyone who has
acquired such habits? Maybe someone whose habits could use some
change? Like your spouse, children or friends?
Though it's a known fact that you
can change your life if you can change your habits, anyone who
has tried to break a habit knows that it can be one of the
hardest challenges we can face.
Changing a habit is a lot like
learning to ride a bicycle. You must believe that a machine that
can't even stand by itself will transport you safely. Of course,
you've seen it work for others, but now you've got to convince
yourself that this achievement can actually happen to you.
Think about what it takes from you
to convince yourself that a bike will hold you and you'll
understand why it's so difficult to change an ingrained habit.
We read about changing our habits and see others struggle with
it - sometimes successfully - we know it's within our reach, but
we've got to fall many times before we actually succeed.
We will have more likelihood to succeed in our mission if we
accept three habit changing tips.
First, the recognition and
understanding of what a habit is. A routine adhered to over time
will become second nature, like riding a bicycle. Practice make
Second is the acceptance that no one
can change you and you can't change anyone else. You must admit
your own need, stop denying, accept responsibility for changing
yourself and ask for help if necessary.
Third is the knowledge that the
easiest way to break a habit is by layering new behavior
patterns on top of the old ones. I don't know where motivational
speakers get the idea that it takes twenty-one days to gain a
new habit. There are habits that can be changed in 30 seconds,
some need 30 days, and some can't be changed after 30 years.
Habits are like submarines; they run
silent and deep. They also are like comfortable beds, in that
they're easy to get into, but difficult to get out of. So don't
expect immediate, amazing results. It may take a while to
remember the motions of a new skill, but after many years of
being you, it takes far longer to settle into a new habit
pattern and stay there. The main thing is that we must be
patient and stress the positive.
A story that brings this point
home is one about a Rabbi. Every morning he would jump out of
bed at 6:00 a.m. and drive around town to pick up the people
needed for his minyan (quorum).
One morning he woke up, jumped out
of bed and started driving to do his pick ups. As he drove onto
the freeway, he turned on the radio just in time to hear the
radio announcer say, "Great Saturday morning to you."
The Rabbi freaked out and said,
"Oh my G-d. I'm driving on Shabbat!"
He started to worry not only about
the desecration of the Holy Day, but also about who will see the
local Rabbi driving on Shabbat. So he quickly drove off the
freeway just in time to hear the radio announcer say, "Excuse
me, did I say Saturday? I meant Friday."
The Rabbi was legitimately
worried that as a creature of habit he jumped out of bed and got
into his car on a day that driving is forbidden.
If we want to break a habit and
acquire a new one, we have to remember learning to ride a
bicycle. We have to believe it'll work, make our move and stick