Habit switching – recycle bad habits

By Dave Henning / February 24, 2022

“When it comes to breaking bad habits, averse stimuli are an effective stopgap. . . strategy, but there is a better way to recycle your bad habits.  It’s called habit switching.  It’s breaking a bad habit by replacing it with a good habit.”- Mark Batterson

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”- Psalm 119:103 (NIV)

Mark Batterson concludes Day 4 of Do It for a Day as he talks about formal education in first-century Judea.  At the age of six, students attended the local synagogue school, called Bet Sefer.  For the first lesson, the rabbi covered the students’ slates with honey.  Next, the rabbi instructed them to lick the honey while reciting Psalm 119:103.  The goal – to catalyze a craving for the Word of God.

Certainly, it’s possible to break a bad habit by not doing it.  And it might work for a short time, say one or two weeks.  But, it’s not a long-term solution.  From a spiritual standpoint, you don’t stop sinning by not sinning.  Pastor Batterson explains:

“I wish it were as easy as just say no!  You need a vision that is bigger and better than the obstacle you’re trying to overcome.  That’s when habit switching enters the equation.  Habit switching . . .  takes time and effort. . . .  You have to change your default settings by making predecisions — the decisions you make before you have to make a decision.  Not only do predecisions reduce decision fatigue, but they also have a domino effect.”

In conclusion, Mark counsels, you need to predecide how you’re going to use your time.  Or someone else will.  Therefore, the author advises, to make your core values a habit, put them in writing.  Furthermore, putting things in writing comes with two primary benefits:

  1. clarity – putting things on paper forces you to be precise.  That includes goals as well as gratitude.
  2. memory – you remember things better when you write them down, as opposed to simply reading them.  As Mark quips, “The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you recycle your bad habits?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Commitment device = insurance policy”

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Dave Henning

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