How to Change a Bad Habit

It is said that faith is a struggle with habit.  We all have our own undesirable habit.  Since it is so difficult to overcome it, sometimes spiritual growth is hindered because of that.  This kind of habit tends to be deep rooted and almost becomes part of ourselves.  Sometime, we think that we conquer it, but then it comes back.  After several of these experiences, we become discouraged and can even lose interest in walk of faith.

Charles Duhigg, a non-Christian, wrote a book titled ‘The Power of Habit’.  This book provides some guidance to overcome habit.  Mr. Duhigg explains how habit is formed based on MIT study of brain function.  Our brain controls every bit of our behavior.  Let’s say a person gets up in the morning, goes to bathroom, picks up tooth brush, and puts some tooth paste on the tooth brush and brushes teeth.  To perform all these, brain has to move in incredible speed.  The brain needs to know how to get out of bed so that the person will have balance on the floor, which direction is bathroom, and where is tooth brush and tooth paste.  To do all these, brain has to operate a great deal and rapidly.

However, for brain to do all this work, it is too tiresome.  Therefore, brain continuously looks for ways to manage things more efficiently.  Any activity which may be repeated is stored in the basal ganglia and whenever similar situation happens this stored behavior pattern kicks in to save brain’s function.  This is the secret of habit.  In other words, habit is formed by a fixed loop of cue, routine, and reward.

For example, a person who works in an office may feel tired around 3pm.  (Cue)  Then, he goes to vending machine in cafeteria, buys chocolate chip cookie and reads magazine there.  (routine)   Then, he feels refreshed.  (reward)  As this pattern continues, these three actions lodged in his basal ganglia and it becomes his habit and he gains weight without realizing it.  The author claims to change the undesirable habit, we need to know the cue and reward first.  As we identify those, when the cue comes, we can change to a different pattern to gain the same reward and that is the way to change a habit.

If someone goes to a bar to bare his heart (pattern) whenever he worries about something (cue) and receives comfort (reward), he can go to house church and share.  Then, he learns that he receives similar kinds of reward and with this realization; he can change his alcohol dependency.   Therefore, as we analyze our cue and reward of unwanted habit, and by replacing the pattern to a more desirable pattern, you may be able to solve one of your old habits.

However, the habit will not break so easily even though the author’s suggestion is followed.  That is because he does not know the presence of evil spirit which works with our undesirable habit.  That is why spiritual warfare is necessary through prayer and fasting.  If we really grieve over our bad habit, ask for Lord’s help, understand exactly what is cue and reward, change to more acceptable behavior pattern, and share this in house church to receive prayer and encouragement.  With all these, the bondage of bad habit can be broken.

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