Creatures of Habit

by James Rudy Gray

We are creatures of habit. In fact, our habits have a unique way of defining who we are and how we live. Fortunately, new habits can be created and old habits can be broken.

What is a habit? Basically, it is a recurrent pattern of thinking and doing that is acquired and maintained through consistent repetition. A habit can be formed after about 30 to 45 days of consecutive enforcement. James Rudy GrayOnce it is formed, it can develop and grow.

Behind our habits are thoughts. Everything we do begins with a thought. James Allen wrote, "All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts." Proverbs 23:7 reminds us that as a selfish man thinks within himself, so he is. He does selfish things and has selfish habits because he thinks selfishly. How we think affects the habits we grow in our lives.

Christian psychologist Archibald Hart wrote Habits of the Mind about four years ago. In that work he presented 10 habits that are at the core of a healthy person:

1. See the good in others.

2. Give yourself permission to fail.

3. Keep your conscience clear.

4. Don't punish yourself.

5. Value life's little blessings.

6. Accentuate the positive.

7. Be the right kind of optimist.

8. Accept yourself for who you are.

9. Stay with reality.

10. Cherish God's love and wisdom.

In order to change our lives, our habits must change: old ones must be broken and new ones developed. Dr. Hart feels that as much as 75 percent of psychotherapy is of little value because it is not property focused. His solution? "Change your thoughts first, and the desired feelings will follow."

What happens to us is not as important as how we interpret what happens to us. Our feelings are not based on what happens but on how we think and believe. If an 8-ounce glass has 4 ounces of water in it, is it half full or half empty?

Families face many pressures to develop ways of thinking that are neither godly nor healthy. The world has always tried to squeeze us into its mold: to build habits into our lives that deter us from experiencing God's best. We resist when we are changed by the renewal of our thoughts from God's truth.

The person who meditates on God's Word will be able to build the kinds of habits that are good and healthy.