Notes From The Revs: Rev. Nickie Golden

What comes to mind when you hear the word “habit”?  Some people go to the thought of drugs, alcohol, smoking, overeating. Some people think about exercise, discipline, meditation.
Habits can save our lives.  For example, looking both ways before we cross the street or putting on our seat belts are ways that we keep ourselves safe.  Habits can get us in a rut that is difficult to get out of and will take self-awareness, reflection, and discomfort while we engage in the process of change.  Joe Dispenza defines a habit as “a redundant set of automatic, unconscious thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that you acquire through frequent repetition.” 

Scientists tell us that habits are part of the brain function designed to be efficient.  When we begin running a routine or a habit, the brain can ramp down.  Think about the last time you took a long-distance drive.  Was there any scenery that you don’t remember passing? Often, we are in a state of waking hypnosis when we are driving, and our conditioned habits kick in to keep us from having to think of every single detail of what we are doing. 

Habits in and of themselves are not positive or negative.  What creates difficulty in our lives is when we get stuck in old patterns that need to be released.  It takes time and energy to make a shift. First, we must identify the habit.  Secondly, we must determine what triggers the pattern.  Finally, we must take a clear look at what we get out of holding on to a particular habit; what is the reward?  When we figure out what is being satisfied by the old routine, we can create satisfaction in new ways and thus create new types of rewards that bring us equal joy.