Much of our lives we live on autopilot, our decisions determined by a series of thought-habits. Once they are formed, these thought-habits run in the background like a computer program. We aren’t consciously aware of the processes, yet these thoughts/beliefs serve as filters and interpreters for information that comes into our brain. Based on this filtered information we choose how we will act in a given situation. And when we repeatedly choose how we act, we develop a habit-of-action. This action-habit is anchored to the preprocessed information that has come from our thought-habit.
Information -->[thought-habit=filter]--> interpretation of information-->[thought-habit=choices of action]-->action
When repeated over and over, this sequence becomes a habit-of-action. We no longer consciously process the information, we just act the way we usually do given a certain situation.
Understandably, it is important to intentionally develop thought-habits and action-habits that will help us learn to embrace and live in God’s love, and then love those around us. Here are a few suggestions/recommendations:
Beloved habits: Habits to help you soak in God’s love and shine
• 30 minutes of silence: Spend 30 minutes each day alone and in silence--no distractions--focusing on God’s presence in and around you, learning to connect with him in relationship, not just intellectual understanding.
• Listen: Learn to listen to God as he speaks to your heart, through your circumstances, in nature, through scripture.
• Priorities and Goals: Set goals and priorities and review these periodically.
• Plan: Spend time daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly reviewing where you have been and where you are going, and how your decisions are lining up with the priorities you feel God has given you. (Hold your plans loosely; knowing God is at work in all things.)
• Give thanks: Give thanks to God in all things (which is not to say for all things). There is no quicker path to joy than the habit of giving thanks in all things. And there is always always always something to be thankful for.
• Positive relationships: Make and cultivate positive relationships.
• Follow: Choose to follow the guidance God has already given you.
• Truth: Immerse yourself in truth, both in your environment and how you choose to process what you experience
Tips on building a Habit
1. Choose a habit that lines up with your priorities and goals.
2. Work on one habit at a time.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Practice your habit daily for 4 weeks.
5. Use reminders that make sense to you (notes on your mirror, app on your phone, screensaver on your computer).
6. Be accountable to yourself (e.g. draw a big check or 0 on your calendar every day when you do it or don’t). If it helps, be accountable to someone else too.
7. Stay positive. Celebrate your successes. Reward yourself for goals achieved.
8. Have a short give-up cycle. We all fail to meet our goals at times, and when that happens, give yourself grace and get back on track quickly.
9. Be encouraged. Remember you are not alone. God is within you, and His strength is far greater than your own. And there are people around you that can encourage you.
10. Reevaluate and strategize.
Bible Verses on Habits
• Often in the Bible, “ways”or “paths” are words that we would use to describe “habits.” One of the best verses about habits is really a prayer of David at the end of Psalm 139.
23Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:38-39 NASB
• Habits of action begin with habits of thought.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2 NKJV)
Resource for Developing Habits
The Habit Factor: a book and website devoted to this topic
Resources for Beloved Habits: see Toolbox section
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