Both this line and the memory of that seminar got me to thinking. It’s easy to see how some things are habits. My Bible reading is a habit. Prayer time is a habit. Listening to my weather radio while I get dressed is a habit. The times we eat lunch and supper are habits. Chores and errands are habits. Even many of the things I do with my writing and promoting it are habits. All of these were formed, on purpose, based on what works. But how many other habits are part of my daily life that might not be so effective? Are there things I do that may be holding me back? Or other ways that would be more productive, if I made a simple change?
I’ve often said that changing how you think about things is the hardest thing to do, and now I realize why. It requires a tremendous effort to pay attention to things we normally don’t notice and take control of it to form new habits! And often, people get frustrated in the process and just give up, thinking it’s not worth it – or worse yet, “if people love me, they will accept me as I am and get over it.”
And the devil absolutely loves that attitude, because he knows that the constant cycle of frustration/fight/forgiveness is slowly chipping away at your relationships, and the process gets slower every time you take another round. The truth is, it does matter, and it has a bigger impact on your relationships than you think. Even small things can chip away at something good until all that’s left are the crumbs of broken trust and resentment that overshadow any good sentiment that once held the dust together.
It’s been four years since I underwent my major mental overhaul (thanks to a major life overhaul), and I can tell you that my biggest struggle was accepting things as they are, and not as I want them to be. I still struggle with that from time to time, most recently with my parakeet’s nerve injury. I hate to see Ollie hurt, and was under a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress over it. Nothing I did seemed to help and I was so aggravated! You know what changed that? Getting the flu. I was literally too sick to worry all the time. But a surprising thing happened. I found that, when I quit hovering over Ollie all the time and peeping on him every few minutes, he improved drastically. He’s not healed, and these cold days knock him down more than I like, but I quickly saw that when I accepted him in the condition he’s in now – and not the condition he was in six months ago, which I want him to return to – he did better. He started eating more. He started chirping and singing every now and then. He seemed to relax and accept his own healing as I relaxed and accepted it. He even gets spunky and sassy every now and then. I see his personality coming back. But it didn’t happen until I backed off, trusted the Lord to heal Ollie, and let it go.
If changing my behavior can impact a parakeet, imagine how it can impact other people.
It’s something worth thinking about. I know I have been. Yes, people should accept you as you are, but don’t you want to do your part to make your relationships the best they can be? How much better can your relationships be if you replace nagging with trusting? Complaining with compromising? Threats with respect? Or better yet, accepting people and things as they are and working with them instead of demanding that “they change or else?” Ah, that’s one to really be cautious of. When threats start, “or else” is often the more attractive offer.
Consider the parakeet. If it can improve through changes in human behavior, isn’t it worth a try? I mentioned two entries ago how negative energy drives people away. That too is a habit. And I think that if you really want to be happy, if you really want your relationships to be the best they can be, if you really want your life to be the best it can be, then you’ll agree that it’s worth breaking bad habits of thought, emotion, and behavior to bring it about. It takes work, and it takes time. But , as Meyer says, if you’re determined to make a positive change and focus on what you hope to gain instead of what hurts, then you can do it.
And again, more support to what I said two entries ago: change your mind, change your life. Or, as the Book of Proverbs says, "as a man thinks in his heart, so he is."
It’s worth thinking about. I’m happy with my life, but I believe it’s because I’m always looking for ways to make things better. Learning is a lifelong process, after all. And it’s a process I’m committed to.
That’s all today. Have a Happy Friday and a great weekend.