Sculpting Project 11: Read the Book: Week 2
Research studies indicate that about 40% of our days are dictated by habit. How are your habits going? Here I am after two weeks of establishing my new non-milking season habit. Every morning I get up and first thing I read from the Gospel of Mark. And every time I read I am rewarded with something new in the story. It is nice to not wonder when I will read. Having already decided definitely makes it easier.
Reading scripture was already a habit for me so settling in to this new time and location was not too difficult. I already had established a pattern in my brain, I only needed a slight adjustment to set in a new time and place.
Old patterns stay in our brains, for better and for worse. What can we do then to change a pattern that we consider a bad habit?
We can change a habit by the ‘replacement method’. Here is how it works:
- Think of a habit you want to change.
- Think of a new replacement habit.
- Use the same cue/trigger
- Use the same reward, if possible, or come up with new one.
Replacement Method Example 1:
When my daughters (who are both amazing women) were in their teen years, they would drive to night events and sometimes did not arrive back home as soon as I expected. Having no cell phone there was not an easy way to contact me, and I would worry. This was not a helpful habit. So I decided I needed a new habit. Taking a lesson from Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything…” I chose to replace my worry thoughts with prayer thoughts
Old Habit: worrying
New Habit: praying
Cue/ trigger: Unexpected lateness
Reward: Peace of mind
The reward in the case of worry, is a bit tricky. What reward do we get from worry?
That answer differs from person to person. For me, it is a search for a solution to a problem that will bring peace of mind when I find it. You will have your own reason/reward for worry.
Replacement Method Example 2: (more clear-cut)
An unpleasant event happens so we seek comfort by eating donuts and we are rewarded by a degree of pleasure. We repeat this pattern and form a habit. To form a new habit We use the same cue/trigger of an unpleasant event but we replace the donuts with something else that brings us pleasure – perhaps calling a friend, reading a poem, or eating a peach.
Old habit: Eating donuts
New habit: Call a friend, read a poem, or eat a peach
Cue/trigger: Unpleasant event
Sculpting project 11: Week 2
Create a tiny habit of reading Scripture each day.
1. Pick a cue/trigger. (Getting in or out of bed is a handy one.)
2. Set a very easy goal. (Read for 1 minute, or read 2 verses.)
3. Celebrate reaching your goal. (Eat a chocolate chip. Give yourself a thumbs-up.)
Or If Scripture reading is a solid habit for you create another tiny habit.
A word about rewards:
There is a part of me that does not want to bother with finding rewards if they involve something like a chocolate chip or even a pat on the back. I think I shouldn’t need them. But the psychological research says they are more important than I think. Habits become established when our brain expects a reward for an action. And when we create a craving for that reward we have a strong habit.
It is also the case that lesser rewards will be replaced by greater rewards. One study had people establish a habit of running using the reward of chocolate chips when they returned. After a while the runners found the experience of running to be rewarding in its self and they no longer needed the chips to give their brain the needed reward. If you decide to reward your Bible or exercise time with chocolate chips you will probably not eternally need a bag of chips by your Bible or running shoes. I know many toddlers who were toilet trained with M&M’s and none of them keep a candy bag in the bathroom as adults.
Communication is a significant help to fellow sculptors. Create a habit of communication.