11.07.2008

Unexpected Benefits

Establishing new habits, just like breaking old ones, can be tricky. I've heard all kinds of advice on this matter. "Be consistent for 14 consecutive days and the habit will be firmly entrenched." "Make it a matter of routine, like brushing your teeth." "Have it be the very first or the very last thing you do in the day." {I admit, this sounds suspiciously like a description of my chocolate consumption.} But the most effective by far has been this: "Attach the new habit to an already established one." 

Recently, I was thinking about one habit that established itself seemingly without any effort at all: blogging. It should come as no surprise that I spend a little time both reading and writing on the internet every single day, usually in the morning after I've gone running. So I thought to myself, why not connect one of my hard-to-establish habits to this permanently entrenched one? After all, while I consider myself to be relatively disciplined, some things continually elude my efforts to incorporate them into my daily routine. Thus, I decided to make it a rule that I could only use the computer after I'd spent some time reading my scriptures. I've never been consistent on that front, and lately it had been weighing heavily on my mind.

The next morning, my fingers had just touched the keyboard when I remembered my new rule. I sat back in dismay, then trudged outside after determining that the discomfort of lying to myself {"I'll start tomorrow"} would be greater than the discomfort of delaying my daily dose of computer therapy. 

I sat on the back porch and read while the sun came up. It was quiet, but I could still see the kids through the window, eating their breakfast. The birds chirped. The air smelled fresh and crisp, and I ended up reading a few chapters more than I had planned. The next day was easier. I remembered before I sat down to type. And gradually, as the days went by, I began to walk outside without a second thought. Now, after a month of this experiment, my daily scripture study is a restful and pleasant part of my morning. 

On an intellectual level, I've known the benefits that come from reading scriptures. I knew they would help me have a better spirit about me through out the day. That I would have verses fresh in my mind as I encountered problems. That during times of solitude and quiet, my mind would be able to turn to what I'd just read that morning. But knowing something intellectually has proven to be quite different from actually experiencing it in practice. I find myself startled that I could ever make it through whole years of my life without any consistent reading. 

As both a parent and a person, I feel fortified and reinforced. As though Heavenly Father is standing there with me, helping me to be a little more patient, a little more kind. I've appreciated the time I've had every morning to report my triumphs and failures of the previous day, and express my hopes for the coming one. I love searching for verses of encouragement and instruction. 

And it's all thanks to blogging. :)

6 comments:

LisAway said...

I KNEW there were spiritual benefits to blogging!

I would love to do this, but I wake up before the rest of the family to do my blogging-the backlog from during the night- without the stress of knowing I'm ignoring them (although I blog off and on all day long. . .). I probably should do my reading then, but I love your idea here and I will find another habit to attach it to, instead of the "going to bed" on which means I read 3 verses and fall asleep.

Thanks for a terrific idea! I think right after i put Aaron in bed for his nap will be my time.

Marci said...

I applied that theory to my own personal journaling. I figured out that if I made my journal a separate blog I'd be more likely to type something in it than sit down and write and I can just have it published later by blurb :-)! Oh, the joys of blogging.

Janae said...

You know, this post really hit home. I'm up this morning and first thing I went to was the computer. Starting tomorrow I'm going to start making a habit of scripture reading as well...I know it will benefit me. I'll let you know how it goes!

Hizzeather said...

Very inspirational! Thanks!

Rachel said...

I agree with your last comment from hizzeather - VERY INSPIRATIONAL! What a great post.

SusieQ said...

Thank you for sharing. What a great idea. You inspired me.

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