Habits

(Originally written January 1994)

January is a month of beginning again. I enjoy it because it means that I can start over, renew my vision, and have hope. At this time of the year, we often analyze our successes and failures of the last year and commit to do it differently this time around. As I have thought about my daily practices, I am amazed how much influence “habits” have in my life. Most of what I do every day is simply controlled by long standing habit patterns. These control my eating, sleeping, exercise, reading, travel, work, play, spending, and thought patterns. They influence both positively and negatively my social, spiritual, work and family life.

These behaviors are established after weeks, months, and even years of practice. It seems that I have to continue to work at sticking with the “good” habits. Although now they are second nature to me and fairly automatic, they usually require effort to “keep up”. If such effort is not consistent, they disappear rather quickly. Therefore, I must frequently reinforce my good habits and discipline myself to persistently “stay with it”. The “bad” ones, however, seem to start naturally and take no effort to maintain. I am so blinded by these “bad” ones that I seldom see them for what they really are and what will be their result. They have the power to keep me bound, even addicted. They are only broken by effort, accountability, and the reprogramming of my mind and natural responses.

Most of my habits I learned not from a book, a speech, or a class, but from observation of lives around me. I adopted most of the good habits that I have from people that I admire and respect. The bad ones I simply fell into naturally, gradually slipped into a rut, or spent time with the wrong crowd or influence.

We are “comfortable” in most of our habits, whether they are good or bad. But while they dominate us, they are the result of deliberate choices. Paul writes in Romans, “don’t you realize that you can choose your own master?…The one to whom you offer yourself – he will take you and be your master and you will be his slave.” Most of the good in my life is due to lifelong habits. “However, for good or evil, each habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it every day, and at last we cannot break it” (Horace Mann).

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny
.

As we approach this new year, lets understand that what we read, watch, listen to, and particularly the kind of people that we spend time with and admire, will influence our thoughts. Habits start in our minds and result in our destiny.

Paul challenges us in Philippians “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best, not the worst; the beautiful not the ugly; things to praise not things to curse”. Lets brighten our lives and our world this new year by thinking right, doing right, and establishing a couple of new good habits!

Habitually yours,

Kent

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About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

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