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The Power of a Habit by Danny J. Stevens

May 15th, Day 136, Giant Steps into 2012

Have you ever heard, “If you continue to think the way you have always thought, you will continue to get what you have always got?”  We have all spent time running the same programs, even when we knew it was destructive or against the path we wanted to go in life.  When certain things happen we can catch ourselves getting angry, worrying, feeling insecure, abusive behavior such a drugs or alcohol.  It is a habit. Some habits run so deep that they could be considered a meme.  I first heard of memes when I went to hear Dr. Wayne Dyer in Seattle.  Memes are programs when I handed down from one generation to the next.  They can come from generations where we have never met the ancestor.  This is not a means to an excuse, just an explanation of a habitual way of thinking.  The way to change this is to become aware and replace old patterns with new.

Tony explains that as a behavior is performed over and over more neural pathways in the brain are created which strengthen the behavior.  The idea of the meme is similar.  As we perform an act a new meme is created.  It dawned on me this week as I was working on cleaning out the basement as I ran across items I probably should have thrown out but caught myself setting aside.  Finally, I realized I was my parent son.  I held on to the same items not for need, but out of a conditioning.  This is the part that amazes me, looking around I see the boxes of items brought to our home from my grandmother.  If we were to analyze our lives we tend to look like and act much like our ancestors.  Then the word, “If you continue to think the way you always thought…” begin to take on a new meaning. 

Pastor Joel Osteen tells a story of a man watching his new bride preparing to cook a ham.  She takes the ham and cuts the ends off the ham before placing it in the pan.  The husband being curious asked, “Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”  The bride looked at him inquisitive and stated that she cut ends off because her mother cut the end of the ham off and she made the best ham around.  When the mother came in the kitchen the husband asked her why she cut the ends of the ham off, she acted a bit shocked and stated because my mother did and she made the best hams ever.  The husband asked, could we call Great Grandmother and ask her why she cut the ends of the ham off?  So they did.  When the question was asked Great Grandmother stated well that’s easy, my pan was too small.  Sometimes we carry on traditions or ways of doing things without asking why.  We carry on with the underlying reason.  This is a meme.

To change anything is first to become aware.  Second is to re-enforce the actions and behaviors we want instead of those we don’t.  Rather than continue with small pan thinking we now know that we can reach beyond this behavior.  Taking this deeper when we feel ill, have a headache, worry unceasingly, or whatever behavior or pattern we want to change what can we change or strengthen by engaging in a new pattern or behavior and creating new memes or neural pathways to strengthen and replace the old behavior.


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