I got home and I don't remember how - what I learned

Part 1 in a Series

I can recall at least four times I have said “I will stop by the store on my way home for lunch”, only to end up in my drive way thinking, “Crud, I wanted to stop by the store on my way home”. What happened? At 12 PM my lunch routine started and my brain went into auto pilot. I grabbed my keys, got into my car, turned on music, I left the parking lot, turned on Central, slowed down for the rough crossing at Comanche street, waited for the light at Soule Street, missed the red at 6th and turned on Hart then my driveway.

What I am describing is a habit. According to researcher Wendy Wood, she monitored people’s daily behavior and found that 45% of the decisions we make are actually habits. They’re not really decisions and from that, we know that every habit happens at a kind of border: It’s a decision we made at some point but then stopped making and continued acting on. Read the full story in Time Magazine

In this series I will explore how we can change Catholic habits (not the kind you get by taking vows) and use them to make the Church a place where friends and neighbors fall in love with Jesus.

Our brains are wired up to crave habits. It takes less mental muster to accomplish routine tasks. That is why rote prayers are so wonderful in times of stress. At the loss of a loved one or after a car accident we do not have to think about the words when we need Jesus, Mary or one of the Saints. With our friends and family we can say a Rosary and be united. Our brains, not to mention our hearts, can divert our energy to other tasks versus thinking about what to say. To read more about how our brains work with habits read, The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

In my story about the failed attempt at an errand I wanted to do over lunch, I told my experience about one of hundreds of habits that you and I have on any given day. The route we take to work, the foods we eat…or don’t eat, where we set at church, programs we watch, money we spend or save. Hundreds of little decisions we chose at one time and act upon without even thinking.

If in doubt about how powerful habits can be, check out how TARGET, the retail store, uses our buying habits to sell us stuff. This is definitely three minutes worth watching.

Imagine the power of people and faith we could unlock by helping people change their habits. In this series I will cover:

How to break a habit

How to add a habit

Institutional Habits – Church habits

These articles will be brief and packed with links to more information for further study. The basics concepts will be out lined in an easy to ready format.

At the end of this series, you will have the knowledge to not only change your parish, but also your life.

Thanks so much for reading and share this with your friends. Leave comments in the in the comment box to start a great discussion.

Eric

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