HABIT: a settled to regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
Recently, I heard someone say that habits are a lot like throwing water in the dirt. At first, the water is unsure of where to go. It kind of scatters in various directions, a drop here, a trail there. We can see it lying on top of the dirt, specks of dirt beginning to blend in with the water. Give it about a minute and the water begins to soak into the dirt. Now, if you throw water again, now it has somewhat of a path to follow. It’s not running as aimless. The new water seems to be attracted to the old water. It’s not interested in creating a new path, why would it? There’s already one to follow. Give it about 20 seconds this time, and see how that dirt is quickly becoming mud and how that path is becoming really noticeable. Now, do it a third, tenth, twentieth time, and watch how that water takes that same path, only each time, it gets deeper and deeper into the ground until eventually, well, now we have ourselves the grand canyon! 😉
This illustration really grabbed me and made me think about the habits I have. Of course immediately I go straight to the bad habits. I began to think how long it took for them to become a habit. Take coffee for example, I’m not saying coffee is bad by any means, but for me, it has been something that I find myself depending on in order to give me my energy and life for the day. THAT is when it begins to be a problem for me. To be honest, the last couple months I haven’t really even enjoyed the taste of it, it’s wholly the HABIT that makes me believe I need it. It has power over me.
As I reflect on my bad habits, I also reflect on my good habits, and habits that I want to be in my life. This means that the things that are hard for me right now, I want them to be things that are hard to give up, hard to NOT do. The way our world seems to work is that the good things aren’t easy or quick to grab, we always seem to have to run and hurdle and climb and climb some more to get to them. “Good things take time,” is what they say. I think most of us will agree on that, but for whatever reason, we still settle for those easy, quick things that will suffice us in the moment.
If the illustration about the water and dirt is accurate, which for me seems to hit it right on the nail. Then I would say this is also accurate; that if we believe our habit is no good, or unhealthy, and we are able to see that it’s time to create a new, healthy, life-giving habit, or a new deep trail of water, we need to become disengaged with that first path. It would be really difficult to throw down some water near that path and expect it to sink in and create a new deep path, without it running into the old one. We almost have to turn our backs to it, walk some distance away, and try there. It doesn’t sound very appealing, but honestly, I don’t know if we could mess it up. The only thing we have to do is stay in that new place, and just watch that water get deeper and deeper until eventually it becomes our habit.
It’s funny. This whole analogy. How you take water (life) and dirt (mess) and commitment (a continuous “yes”) and all of a sudden something becomes part of us. Part of our nature and being. There is so much to that, that I feel it’s only the first throw of water on the dirt.