The trails today are very difficult, just like breaking bad habits is very difficult in our lives. When we start habits that are not good for us, we do not realize at the time or understand the inherent difficulty in changing old and persistent habits, but that does not mean that it is impossible.
The only way that habits begin to change is when we begin to change our perceptions. Most people are not successful in changing bad habits or addictions quickly. For most of us, change comes as an evolutionary process of almost imperceptible changes. We just keep nudging ourselves in the right direction by forming one or two better habits. Changing habits permanently requires 4 distinct but interlocking steps. It is like the interlocking Lego blocks that connect to each other to build the steps to success. You must connect them together and in the proper order.
Emotions are the most powerful forces inside us. Under the power of emotions, human beings can perform the most heroic (as well as barbaric) acts. To a great degree, civilization itself can be defined as the intelligent channeling of human emotion. Emotions are fuel, and the mind is the pilot, which together propel the ship of civilized progress.
There are four basic emotions or building blocks that can trigger the most incredible activity. The day that you channel these emotions to fuel your desire is the day you’ll turn your life around and overcome bad habits that are destroying you.
1. Disgust with Yourself
One does not usually equate the word “disgust” with positive action. And yet, properly channeled, disgust can change a person’s life. The person who feels disgusted has reached a point of no return. He or she is ready to throw down the gauntlet at life and say, “I’ve had it!”
Productive feelings of disgust come when you say, “Enough is enough.” You have had it with mediocrity. You have had it with those awful sick feelings of fear, pain, and humiliation. You decide you are not going to live like this anymore. Call it what you will. It may be the “I’ve had it” day, the “never again” day, the “enough is enough” day…Whatever you call it, it’s powerful! There is nothing so life-changing as gut-wrenching disgust!
2. Decision Time – You Must Choose
Most of us need to be pushed to the wall to make decisions. Once you reach this point, you have to deal with the conflicting emotions that come with making them. We have reached a fork in the trail. Now this fork can be a two-prong, three-prong or even a four-prong fork. No wonder that decision-making can create knots in stomachs, keep us awake in the middle of the night, or make us break out in a cold sweat.
Making life-changing decisions can be likened to an internal civil war. Conflicting armies of emotions, each with their own arsenal of reasons, battle each other for supremacy of your minds. And your resulting decisions, whether bold or timid, well thought out or impulsive, can either set the course of action or blind it. I don’t have much advice to give you about decision-making except this…
Whatever you do, don’t camp at the fork in the road. Decide. It’s far better to make a wrong decision than to not make one at all. Each of us must confront our emotional turmoil and sort out our feelings.
3. Desire That Won’t Be Extinguished
How do you gain desire? I don’t think I can answer this directly because there are many ways. But I do know two things about desire:
- It comes from the inside, not the outside.
- It can be triggered by outside forces.
Almost anything can trigger desire. It’s a matter of timing as much as preparation. It might be a song that tugs at the heart. It might be a memorable sermon. It might be a movie, a conversation with a friend, a confrontation with the enemy, or a bitter experience. Even a book or podcast and journal such as this one can trigger the inner mechanism that will make you say, “I want to change now!”
Therefore, while searching for your “hot button” of pure, raw desire, welcome into your life each positive experience. Don’t erect a wall to protect you from experiencing life. The same wall that keeps out your disappointment also keeps out the sunlight of enriching experiences. So let life touch you. The next touch could be the one that turns your life around.
4. Determination To Do or Die
Determination says, “I will.” These two words are among the most potent in the English language. I will. Benjamin Disraeli, the great British statesman, once said, “Nothing can resist a human will that will stake even its existence on the extent of its purpose.” In other words, when someone determines to “do or die,” nothing can stop him.
The mountain climber says, “I will climb the mountain. They’ve told me it’s too high, it’s too far, it’s too steep, it’s too rocky, and it’s too difficult. But, it’s my mountain. I will climb it. You’ll soon see me waving from the top, or you’ll never see me because unless I reach the peak, I’m not coming back.” Who can argue with such determination?
When confronted with such iron-willed determination, I can see Time, Fate and Circumstance calling a hasty conference and deciding, “We might as well let him have his dream. He’s said he’s going to get there or die trying.”
The best definition for “determination” is promising yourself you will never give up.
Think about it! How long should a baby try to learn how to walk? How long would you give the average baby before you say, “That’s it, you’ve had your chance?” Do you say that’s crazy? Of course, it is. Any mother would say, “My baby is going to keep trying until he learns how to walk!” No wonder everyone walks.
There is a vital lesson in this. Ask yourself, “How long am I going to work to rid my life of bad habits and then to make my dreams come true?” I suggest you answer, “As long as it takes.”
Although it seems impossible at times for us to make the changes needed in our lives, let us not forget that we can draw on the strength of each other and Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Philippi in Chapter 4 verses 12 through 14, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.”
The four trails that each of us need to hike to break bad habits and make lasting changes in our lives are…
The lessons that we can learn from each other are valuable, so encourage your friends and family to join us each day on our trek.