When I was in high school I had long hair, and when I would get bored I would repeatedly pull it back from my face. Due to genetics and aging I can no longer do that, but the introduction of a solid beard has given me a new play thing. I highlight these things because they are both actions I do without thinking; they are habits. So much of our day’s actions are just a collection of habits. When was the last time you thought about how to brush your teeth, or the order in which you washed your different body parts in the shower in the morning? These are the habits that allow our brains to focus on other things while still accomplishing the necessary tasks to fulfill our basic needs. Not all habits, however, are so life-giving. Some habits are the reason we have nails chewed down so far they bleed, or are responsible for our getting into fights with our loved ones over the same issue over and over again. These are the habits we wish we could change. I have been on a reading adventure of late into books that I guess you could say report on popular science – taking heavily researched topics and making them accessible to the layperson. I felt The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg would fit well into this little adventure I am on.
Duhigg’s book is described on his website as such: “In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.” That is really what it is all about – looking into a variety of sources to show how habits are formed, how habits are changed, and the influence habits have over everything from individuals to social revolutions.
As I promised in my review of the Malcolm Gladwell books, I was more intentional with my reading this time and had my notebook with me as I read, so I will try to put what I highlighted into one cohesive thought. Before I do that, however, one side note – did you know that when Febreeze was first created, it was odorless? The chemical compound in Febreeze was accidentally discovered by a P&G chemist and was able to absorb the chemicals that made things smell. When I read this I was so mad because I hate the scent of Febreeze. To find out why they add scent, you’ll have to read the book. Now back to my thoughts on The Power of Habit. I really can’t summarize all the ideas I highlighted, but what encouraged me the most was this: God created us to be transformable. It is clear that habits can be changed even at the neurological level. It is certainly not easy, but it can be done. Not only did God create us to be able to be transformed, we are best equipped to change when we believe we can change and are surrounded by a community that will encourage us to change. Alcoholics Anonymous has been studied intensely as a system that can cause people to change their habits and out of that, researchers discovered that both a belief in a higher power, and involvement in a community that was there to help make changes, is part of what makes AA so powerful. When I read that I was blown away. It made me realize that what I do here at YWAM Turner Valley has the potential to do so much more for a person than just teach them how to study inductively. I have the opportunity to be a part of seeing people transformed as they study the Bible for nine months in a community that will encourage change, and grow belief in the God who longs to transform us.
If you have read any of the books I have reviewed to this point, I would highly recommend you read this one also. I am so encouraged by seeing how amazingly we have been created. Maybe the book will even inspire you to change that habit you wish was different.