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Culture

Do Your Habits Serve You or Hold You Back?

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What is your guilty little pleasure? Is it a piece of candy? A glass of wine? Binge watching a show on Netflix?

We are told that moderation is key. We all indulge from time to time, but what happens when that small indulgence isn’t so small? When one glass of wine turns into four, or two hours of TV turns into ten, those vices can start to consume our lives and get in the way of what matters most. The content of our lives is made up of small moments, and if we are not conscious of how we fill that time, it’s easy to slip into auto pilot and suddenly end up somewhere we never wanted to be.

In Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s autobiography, he says, “For a person to polish his or her heart to the point that it becomes as clear as crystal, one absolutely must spend time in direct conversation with one’s heart in an environment away from the world and alone with his or her heart.” (97)

Do you take time to be “alone with your heart?” If not, what is it that’s getting in the way?

Motivation

Most things are not inherently bad, but the way we use them and our motivation behind it can determine if what we are doing is really a small indulgence, an emotional crutch, or even a serious addiction.

Ask yourself honestly, are you playing video games for hours as a way to simply relax? Or is it a way to avoid an uncomfortable or less than ideal situation? Is the time you spend taking away from other important activities, like spending time with your family, or having a chance to reflect and pray?

Instead of going straight for the ice cream or checking your phone for the hundredth time, pause, and ask yourself: “Why?”

When we stop to ask the questions, we can consciously decide if this habit is something we really want to be part of our lives and to what extent.

Growth

Another way to decide whether a habit is serving you or not is to think about what you do want. We all have dreams and goals, but many of us get stuck in figuring out how to achieve them. We may think that to achieve anything, it requires a big change in our life, when in actuality, a small effort done consistently over a period of time can bring huge results.

Growing, becoming the best person we can be, is not a pain-free process. It takes a certain amount of stretching outside of our comfort zone. If we are only seeking comfort, then we may be missing out on some very important lessons and even opportunities.

Most experts agree that when trying to break a bad habit the most effective way is to replace the old habit with a new, healthier one. If your goal is to be in better shape, then get off the couch and get moving! You might not be running a marathon to start out with, but taking a walk around the block instead of watching “just one more episode” is a habit that will make you happier and healthier in the long run.

Mind vs. Body

Our potential to experience growth relies on us doing what we know is good for our long term benefit instead of what feels good in the moment. The Divine Principle explains this as the relationship between the mind and the body. Our mind and body have a symbiotic relationship, that is, they work together. But the Divine Principle teaches us to take it a step further, and make our mind the subject of that relationship. In other words, we should listen to our mind when it tells us to wake up early for that morning run, instead of the body that’s screaming, “Stay in bed!”

Our body desires comfort, which isn’t a bad thing, but without the discernment of the mind to balance it out, there would be little stopping us from indulging to our own detriment.

Being conscious of this dynamic can help us think about which part of us is leading. Are we serving our body’s desire for instant gratification, or our mind’s direction for long term well-being?

It takes practice and persistence to follow our mind, but like exercising a muscle, the more we do it, the stronger we become.

What are the habits that make you happier and healthier? What’s one that you might need to change?