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  KD MAGAZINE!         ב"ה              
 
 
     
 

It's Like Riding a Bicycle
By Rabbi Shea Hecht

RABBI SHEA HECHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

According to the dictionary the definition of habit is "an acquired behavior pattern, regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary."

Do you know anyone who has acquired such habits? Maybe someone whose habits could use some change? Like your spouse, children or friends?

Though it's a known fact that you can change your life if you can change your habits, anyone who has tried to break a habit knows that it can be one of the hardest challenges we can face.

Changing a habit is a lot like learning to ride a bicycle. You must believe that a machine that can't even stand by itself will transport you safely. Of course, you've seen it work for others, but now you've got to convince yourself that this achievement can actually happen to you.

Think about what it takes from you to convince yourself that a bike will hold you and you'll understand why it's so difficult to change an ingrained habit. We read about changing our habits and see others struggle with it - sometimes successfully - we know it's within our reach, but we've got to fall many times before we actually succeed.

We will have more likelihood to succeed in our mission if we accept three habit changing tips.

First, the recognition and understanding of what a habit is. A routine adhered to over time will become second nature, like riding a bicycle.  Practice make permanent.

Second is the acceptance that no one can change you and you can't change anyone else. You must admit your own need, stop denying, accept responsibility for changing yourself and ask for help if necessary.

Third is the knowledge that the easiest way to break a habit is by layering new behavior patterns on top of the old ones. I don't know where motivational speakers get the idea that it takes twenty-one days to gain a new habit. There are habits that can be changed in 30 seconds, some need 30 days, and some can't be changed after 30 years.

Habits are like submarines; they run silent and deep. They also are like comfortable beds, in that they're easy to get into, but difficult to get out of. So don't expect immediate, amazing results. It may take a while to remember the motions of a new skill, but after many years of being you, it takes far longer to settle into a new habit pattern and stay there. The main thing is that we must be patient and stress the positive.

A story that brings this point home is one about a Rabbi. Every morning he would jump out of bed at 6:00 a.m. and drive around town to pick up the people needed for his minyan (quorum).

One morning he woke up, jumped out of bed and started driving to do his pick ups. As he drove onto the freeway, he turned on the radio just in time to hear the radio announcer say, "Great Saturday morning to you."

The Rabbi freaked out and said, "Oh my G-d. I'm driving on Shabbat!"

He started to worry not only about the desecration of the Holy Day, but also about who will see the local Rabbi driving on Shabbat. So he quickly drove off the freeway just in time to hear the radio announcer say, "Excuse me, did I say Saturday?  I meant Friday."

The Rabbi was legitimately worried that as a creature of habit he jumped out of bed and got into his car on a day that driving is forbidden.

If we want to break a habit and acquire a new one, we have to remember learning to ride a bicycle. We have to believe it'll work, make our move and stick to it.  
 
Rabbi Shea Hecht is the Chairman of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education . His web site is: www.sheahecht.com

 
   
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