by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
A couple of weeks ago I went on a day trip with my daughter to eat lunch and shop in a small town in Louisiana where I enjoyed one of my favorite meals — fried green tomatoes and Cajun meat pies. But it was only a couple of years ago when I ate my very first fried green tomato! Unfortunately, I’ve spent most of my life unwilling to try something new. And I can’t help but wonder how much I have missed.
Some would say we’re prisoners of habit. From the way we think and believe to how we react and behave, we resist changes in the patterns we’ve built for our lives. And from my own experience, not doing something or not trying something has also been habit-forming. But habits can be broken.
“Old habits die hard,” the old adage proclaims. In other words, if a belief or way of behaving dies hard, it takes a long time to disappear and is not given up easily. I suspect some smokers unsuccessfully trying to quit would agree with this. However, I have a brother who, after smoking for probably 30 years of his life, easily quit once he decided to quit. His firm commitment brought discipline and confidence. He quit smoking on New Year’s Eve 15 years ago and never broke his resolution. So, breaking an old habit is possible and it need not be arduous.
A recent study asserts we’re set in our ways when it comes to our habits, our tastes, our preferences, and suggests getting stuck in the status quo comes with age. The study sought to learn when we lose our taste for the new.
For example, survey results from this study concluded that most people are 20 years old or younger when they first hear the popular music they choose to listen to for the rest of their lives. And if you’re more than 35 years old when a style of popular music is introduced, there’s a greater than 95 percent chance that you’ll never choose to listen to it. I must say, when it comes to music, I guess I’m in the remaining 5 percent. But, that said, I still definitely enjoy listening to the music of my high school and college days, too.
When it comes to food, I don’t think I ever had the taste for the new, even when I was young. My unwillingness to try new foods became a bad habit early on.
But, why is repetition so appealing? Some suggest our natural tendency is to revert to deep-rooted memories. Some say we’re afraid of making a mistake, failing or looking foolish. Some believe we acquire patterns of behavior that continue to occur automatically because we don’t question or consider a change.
How can we break bad habits and stop misguided reason from directing our behavior? How can we keep our tastes from narrowing or lose our fear of change or unwillingness to try something new?
Perhaps we can best begin by not believing a wrong concept of who we are, such as picky, addicted, fat, unreasonable, obstinate, unprogressive!
For me, the impulse to want to try new foods is a result of a newly gained self-image. For years I desired more order, balance and activity in my life, along with less body weight. Today, I’m 30 pounds lighter and happier and more energized than ever. I’ve also become more open-minded, spontaneous and hungry for all things new and different — including food.
In the Bible, Paul tells us that when we get rid of our old and stubborn ways, we can renew our thoughts and attitudes and see ourselves as the God-created inquisitive and spiritual child that we are. He wrote, “Since, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything — and I do mean everything — connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life — a God fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” (Ephesians 4:22-24, Eugene Peterson, The Message)
Take heart, my friends. You need not miss out on the rich, vibrant world out there with all the infinite possibilities and God-provided good. You are governed by God alone and are not enslaved by habit or limited thinking or opinions. You have a spiritual nature, a spiritual instinct, which is open and receptive to God’s expansive point of view that is ever new, fresh, invigorating and full of life. So, if you want to make a change or try something new, you can do it!