The Ponder Effect | Do I need to shift my habits?
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Do I need to shift my habits?

A few years back, my husband and I devised something we call Austerity August. Returning from vacation up north, we set an intention to cut sugar and drinks and get back into a healthy routine. Wake up early, exercise, meditate, eat well, pray, read.

So far, we have failed miserably at Austerity August. I could make lots of excuses, but the bottom line is: we aren’t there yet. The habits of a happy vacation have become the coping mechanisms of a stressful shift back to reality. I know this is not good. I resolve to change. The problem is I don’t want to. Austerity is awful. Who wants austerity?

Yet, I also know that if I could peel away the layers of cravings and self-justifications, austerity might be a welcome change. The calm our family needs requires discipline. So, the question then becomes, am I willing to shift my habits, knowing that I might lose that delicious hit of pleasure now but gain a more substantive sense of peace in the long term?

What about you? Do you need to shift your habits? Which ones? What will it take for you to be able to do that?

Share your thoughts [All posts are 100% anonymous]

5 Ponderings
  • Varina Willse

    August 13, 2018 at 11:45 am

    I do need to shift habits, and what strikes me is the correlation between habits of mind and habits of body. I can be more aware and present when I am living clean.

  • Anonymous

    August 14, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    This morning, I set my alarm to get up early and run. It was almost cool out and the streets were mostly empty. I came around a corner and way in front of me, framed between all the clustered houses, was the full neon circle of the rising sun. It was so big and so bright and so full and so unexpected. It was a great reward for a return to a healthy habit, and it was a reminder that amid all the commotion of suburban life, striking beauty lays in wait for those who make themselves available to it.

  • Anonymous

    August 15, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    That’s a really tough one that I struggle with as well. I know when I try austerity and fall of the proverbial wagon, I get frustrated. I’ve been thinking more about what can I attempt to do everyday, regardless of vacation, work, travel, etc. I have set a goal that I want to mediate 10 minutes every day and do some form of exercise for 30 minutes every day. I also would like to attempt to remove all processed food from my diet – it never even makes me feel good except for about the 10 minutes while eating it. I am trying this new path to do the things that I know that are good and make me feel better, but it’s not easy. I am working to start small. 10 min of mediation and 30 min of exercise a day. Let’s see where it leads! Good luck to all of you on your adventures of figuring this tough nut out!

  • Anonymous

    August 16, 2018 at 9:51 am

    I often think of the need to shift my habits and then feel overwhelmed by the enormous gap between my “ideal” and “what is.” It can be paralyzing. This summer, I decided, for one week, just to try and eat a healthy breakfast – something truly nourishing – and to give myself the freedom to go ahead and have whatever I could put together for lunch/dinner during/after busy days with my three kids. No guilt about the fatty chicken salad. No prim refusal of my kid’s birthday ice cream sundae.

    That one little commitment was so helpful and hopeful. It only lasted for a week, and it was just one small move in the overall direction of what I hope to achieve … but it was something.

    My goals? To read more, to write more, to live more healthfully. I’m going to start small, though, and force myself not to beat myself up about how slow I am, how behind, or how out of shape. Maybe … the biggest habit of all that needs breaking is the tendency to criticize myself for every setback (many of which aren’t even within my control!) and to work on giving myself more grace.

  • Anonymous

    August 18, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Oh, it’s the worst that the habits of a happy vacation are the same habits of a “sad” adjustment back to the world of work and school! But I live in the sway between the two– each heightens and intensifies the other. “Discipline”, an unpopular word, in the Christian tradition is also the key to discovering joy and peace. “Discipline” is a summoning of willpower and it’s also the devotion to a sustained practice that can, over time, draw the soul out into open waters of change that might not have otherwise been attainable through a sheer “summoning of willpower”.

    What will it take? In one sense, it’s a matter of the mind. In another sense, we are not in control. Think: Ron Swanson’s self-intervention video to himself in the event of the reappearance of his ex-wife Tammy 2.. Parks and Rec. Shifting habits is a matter of calculation, yes, of longterm gain over shortterm loss. It’s a matter of motivation, yes, of course. And it also seems to me to be a matter of environment– setting yourself up for success with an achievable plan, accountability mechanisms, and a habitual failsafe system built in to your routine that will prompt you into pre-execution rituals and aid in engraining the habit. But even after all the controls, when is it really in our control? Here’s to grace– to faithfully pursue and gently forgive ourselves along the way