By Jesse Jost
Our brain is always looking to form habits in an attempt to put activities into the daily auto-pilot playlist. It does this so that it can focus our limited conscious awareness on essential tasks. The brain’s criteria for what should become a habit is pretty indiscriminate and devoid of moral judgement.
Many destructive things become habits in our life pretty quickly. These habits form without our permission and under our conscious radar, because the start of a new habit is often so small it seems inconsequential.
But we need to be aware that habits snowball and gain in their controlling power and influence. We need to be watchful and observant of our little habits in life and ask if this habit is taking us to a place we want to be. Is this habit making me the person I want to be?
Whatever we sow in our little choices and habits is what we will reap. Time will take our insignificant habits and make them significant! If we have good habits, time will compound them in rewarding ways. If we have habits that are contrary to our aspirations, they will, over time, become devastating.
Every choice you make, every thought you allow, and every bite you eat, has the potential to silently grow into a habit.
Our thoughts form new neural pathways each time we think a thought, and when the thought is repeated the connections grow stronger and are more likely take place again.
Repeated anxious thoughts can snowball into chronic anxiety. Complaining thoughts can snowball into gloom or despair. The stress that comes from fearful or angry thoughts also builds up in your body and can manifest in dozens of harmful ways.
Conversely, thoughts of praise and gratitude can also become habits and grow roots and fruit of peace and joy.
With the health of our bodies, an hour lounging on the couch, or a binge of potato chips will not have any long-term consequences. But if we are not on guard, these little choices will become habits that will have a huge effect on our health down the road.
We need to take stock of our life and be aware. We need to observe our choices and not see them as one-time acts, but ask, if this action is repeated over time, where it will take us?
Our future will consist of the consequences of all our “little choices.” “7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Gal 6:7-8)
The present choice you are making is a tiny lever that moves your whole future self toward a life of freedom, joy and peace with God, or toward a life of bondage and despair, and a heart that is hard towards God.
Thankfully we have a Savior who responds to our cries of despair. If we wake up from our habit-induced stupor and find our lives a mess, He is near to the broken hearted and can bring healing. But His healing and forgiveness will not change the law of sowing and reaping. Our actions and words will still have consequences that could last for all eternity.
So I ask you, where are your habits taking you?
What are your word habits doing to your relationships?
What are your Internet and phone habits doing to your soul and brain?
What are your diet and exercise habits doing to your body?
Remember the power of habits is not just for evil. Habits can take your small daily choices for good and turn them into powerful agents of transformation.
When you feel discouraged about life, you don’t have to change all at once. Just one tiny healthy choice at a time. “9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9