The Power of Habit

Three times a week I go to the local rec center and walk.  I’ve missed a few days lately.  I had a good excuse or I tell myself I had a good excuse.  I had an excuse but it wasn’t a good one.   The walking makes me feel good.  It probably boosts some of those good brain chemicals you read about.  And it does something for my self esteem.  The thing is it makes me nervous when I miss.  I think if I skip a week or two weeks I’ll never get back to it.

I pray early in the morning four times a week.  I am determined to keep that up even if there are times I don’t feel that connection to God.  I’ll have to say the longer I do this the more I do feel that connection.  I find that the connection comes at other times of the day, unbidden.  The walking helps too because that is a time of meditation as well as exercise.  I am beginning to ask myself why this (the prayer time) is not a seven day a week habit.  Anyway I get nervous thinking about letting this habit lapse.

I read a Bible passage and an excerpt from the writings of C. S. Lewis every morning.  My wife and I read from a devotional book every morning.  If we fall behind we always find a way to catch up.  I will not let that lapse.  It would make me nervous to give that up.

My wife and I have lost a lot of weight over the past year or so, on purpose.  We just gave away a lot of clothes that don’t fit anymore.  That’s kind of scary because we’ve lost a lot of weight over the years and found it again every time.  We’ve developed some new eating habits and we must, we will stick with them.  We have to.  It makes me nervous to think of going back.

None of this is superstition.  I’m not thinking ‘If I don’t pray something bad will happen’, ‘If I don’t read something bad will happen’.  And I’m not making myself out to be some super spiritual person.  The more I seek God the less I am and the more He is.

I remember talk about our Church staff reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I was intrigued but I never got around to reading it.  But I’m beginning to see something here.  Habit can be my friend.

So here’s what I think.  I find out what I am supposed to be doing and make a habit out of it.  If want to write, I write every day.  If I paint, I paint every day.  Whatever I want to do, I should do obsessively.  The dictionary says that obsessive means ‘excessive, especially extremely so’ but I think obsessive can be a good thing.  

So be obsessive, obsessive in moderation.  There’s a clash in terms for you.

PS:  Habit can be a bad thing.  First thought is that you can be trapped into bad habits but there’s another potential negative.  Habit can turn a good thing into meaningless routine.  I have to guard against lifeless meaningless routine.  I have to do whatever it takes to keep passion alive.

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About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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One Response to The Power of Habit

  1. Sharon says:

    Thank you for being a husband who has many good habits and helps keep me on track. Now, if only I could make myself go walking with you.
    The Good Wife!

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