Weekly devotional

You can learn to create habits — it’s a skill

I want to share with you a method which will help you learn to create habits quickly and easily. It was developed by Dr. BJ Fogg, a research psychologist from Stanford University. It is called “Tiny Habits.”

When you have a spiritual practice in mind, like reading the Bible or praying, the key is to make the behavior more automatic. Eventually, you want these spiritual practices to be reflexes. You don’t think about them; you just do them.

Personal example: flush the toilet

For example, after I go to the bathroom, I flush the toilet. I don’t deliberate about the behavior. I’m not making a decision. I’ve developed the habit (it’s almost a reflex) of flushing the toilet.

And that’s the goal. You can create lots of small changes in your spiritual life — new behaviors that are automatic. You won’t need to exert effort to do these behaviors.

Write a Tiny Habit recipe

With this method, you will write a habit recipe which anchors the new habit to an existing habit. Like this: after I [existing routine], I will [new tiny behavior].

Make it tiny

The process starts with picking a behavior which you do at least once a day, takes you less than 30 seconds and requires little effort.

Find the right spot

Just as important as keeping the behavior tiny is this: finding the right spot in your daily routine for your new behavior.

In this method, you sequence the new tiny behavior after a habit you already do. This idea of “after” is important. You need to know what specific moment in your routine will be an anchor which will trigger the new tiny behavior you want.

Habits of the discipleship pathway

For example:

After my feet hit the floor in the morning, I will say, “This is the day the Lord has made!”

After I step in the shower, I will pray “Wash me with your grace, O God.”

After I pour my morning coffee, I will open the Bible app.

After I hear a siren, I will pray, “Bless those driving and those at their destination.”

After I start the dishwasher, I will pray, “Cleanse me from sin.”

After I walk in the door and put down my bag, I will put my Bible on the table.

After I put my head on the pillow, I will thank God for one good thing from my day.

Celebrate success

Each time you do your new tiny habit, you need to celebrate your success immediately — either while you’re doing the tiny behavior or within a second of completing it. Find something that works for you, here are just a few:

• Do a physical movement — thumbs up, fist pump or clap once.

• Say a word or phrase out loud — “Awesome!” “Great!” “Yes!”

• Vocalize a sound effect out loud — “Bah doom, chi!”

• Imagine hearing a sound effect , like a  roaring crowd.

Move your face to look happy — smile.

I know this may sound goofy, but it works. You need to celebrate and feel good about doing new spiritual practice. Why? Because you are reinforcing yourself. The stronger you feel a positive emotion after your new spiritual practice, the faster it will become automatic in your life.

Practice

Now, let’s practice. Wherever you are reading this, take a moment to experiment with this Tiny Habit for spiritual formation:

After my feet hit the floor in the morning, I will say, “This is the day the Lord has made!”

So, in just a moment, lift your feet off the floor, as you are able. Then on the count of three, put your feet down and say, “This is the day the Lord has made!” Then, celebrate — so first take a moment and consider how you are going to celebrate.

Let’s go…

Feet up…

Imagine that you are waking up in the morning…

Feet hit the ground — 1, 2, 3…

“This is the day the Lord has made!”

“Yes!”