Starting New Habits

Recap: Basil Ganglia, Habit Loop, Renewing our Minds

Romans 12:1-2

1.        Reward planning: Short vs Long Term

What drugs are most habit forming?  Heroin, Cocaine, Tobacco, Alcohol, Marajuna?  Why?

In habit formation, frequent small rewards are more effective than infrequent large ones.  Note that frequent is not the same as constant; constant rewards can be less effective in many situations.

Our brains naturally focus on short term gains over and against long term gains.  How does this play out in our response to sin, suffering, death, wealth, etc?

Hebrews 11:1.  Faith is so hard because it is unnatural; it is supernatural. 

Key concept: new habits may be motivated by a long term good but require a short term gain in the habit loop.

You can have multiple rewards for one habit loop – this is important.

2.       Reward planning; Internal vs External

Tolerance.  Options to increase volume, increase frequency, or change reward.

Shift from external to internal.

Febreeze – creating a new habit with no obvious cue and when those who need it most don’t appreciate the reward.  Prayer, mediation, fasting, tithing, worship – so many spiritual disciplines fall into this category.

Engineer a loop, create a craving.

Craving can become obsession in addiction; but it can also help us move from external to internal rewards.

Key concept: train yourself to anticipate the reward before it comes.

3.       Cue planning; the easy part

West Virginia Miners – you can create a cue for anything.

Essential qualities of a cue:

-         must occur on its own

-         must happen as frequently as the desired habit

-         must be fairly stable and consistent (remember, habits are delicate)

Conversation: Discussion Questions

1.       What is the habit you want to begin?  Have you ever tried to begin this habit before?  If so, why didn’t it work (in light of this material)?

2.      Does the long term/short term concept ring true to you?  How have you seen this in your own life? 

3.      Why are external rewards, over time, less effective than internal ones?  Can you think of any exceptions?

4.      What cravings can you identify in your own life?   

5.      What are some simple cues for the habit you want to start?