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We all have habits. They are things we have done for so long they have become a common tendency for us to do or practice. Some of those are really good things like a healthy diet, exercise, or a consistent spiritual life of commitment to our beliefs and faith tenets. Others are not so healthy like biting our fingernails, failing to follow through on things, being insensitive to the needs of others, or making judgments against those we may not even know. In both cases, if they are habits, they are not so easily changed or altered since the habitual practice of them seems to cement them day-by-day.
Two other things that we take less notice of is how we anticipate or speculate on what may happen next regarding almost anything or everything. Those two are similar except anticipation more often tends toward positive things like looking forward to a birthday, special trip, a new house, or bonus at our work. When we speculate it often tends more to risks and expecting something we don’t want or wish for. Which one we practice can lead us down two different paths – one will be optimistic hope and the other will be a sense of foreboding and fear or dread.
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Some things we practice start out innocuous enough so we don’t see for some time they may be drifting away from little impact on us. Most of us know that is true of our devices now used commonly. Cell phones, computers, tablets, and more are tools we started using for convenience for work or needed tasks but have morphed into a life of their own now if we are honest. We use them in relationships more than phone calls or notes and letters. We get caught looking at them when we are with others more than attending to the person we are with. We get addicted to playing mindless games on them or watching video clips without much thought about their impact until it’s sometimes too late.
Another example that has (for me) changed over the years is my habit of reading the news. I grew up reading the news and hearing it on the radio and loved it because I love history and today’s news would soon become tomorrow’s history and I was curious about local and world events. When TV came along, those habits remained with the addition of a half hour newscast each day that actually was able to highlight only a sampling of what newspapers contained. Before we knew it that appetite was being fed by a 24-hour news cycle on multiple channels that didn’t seem bad at first and we barely noticed our local newspapers were getting thinner until they often disappeared (and with them the awareness of our own community happenings). We noticed even less that all these hours became filled less with factual reporting and more with opinions or snapshots that weren’t giving us the whole picture and were meant to draw us in again and again like a movie.
Were we like frogs in a kettle not heeding the change in the temperature we were swirling in? Did we notice how it was impacting us? We weren’t hearing many of the good things along with not so good things and headlines became darker with the potential of foreboding and fear. If we did notice and we tended to healthy intakes other places, we likely failed to notice the impact of them for some time unless we tuned in to what our conversations were highlighting. They too often focused on the sensational headlines that were more often like something from a bad movie whether it was business news, or the latest crimes committed. Good things or people rarely made the cut.
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We began to get even our personal medical news via our devices from various portals that gave us test results and lab results often before our physicians had seen them or could explain them to us. There were many words in them we didn’t have knowledge of and some that zapped us immediately like “abnormal.” The result was often speculation on our part and invariably it opened the door to the worst-case scenario. That was especially true during and since the pandemic where headlines contained only the most gruesome numbers and we were isolated from positive aspects and people and fed a steady diet of bad news.
There was an enemy of our hearts and souls drawing us into a downward spiral too often without our realizing it because it made sense to us in our increasingly hopeless world view highlighted in every research poll reported. If we opened that door to speculation the enemy’s power grew and if we were paying attention at all, we could feel it.
In a world of chaos and ever-changing headlines of mostly disasters, our choices of what we feed toward one path or the other can make a big impact on our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Whatever we feed grows and becomes a habitual practice hard to break. We see that when we try to reign in our use of devices, we are now dependent on for nearly everything.
In a world of chaos and ever-changing headlines of mostly disasters, our choices of what we feed toward one path or the other can make a big impact on our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Whatever we feed grows and becomes a habitual practice hard to break. We see that when we try to reign in our use of devices we are now dependent on for nearly everything.
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How do we escape? It begins by unplugging from what we are being fed that got us to that sense of foreboding. How many times do you need to watch the latest crime or stock market reports being repeated on every news source every hour or less? It gets stronger when we turn our brains back on and stop accepting what these sources are telling us about what to think or believe about ourselves and the world and recognize there is an agenda going on if only to sell us what they are offering and keep us tuned in. It gets healthier when we recognize this sound bite news world is giving us snippets versus the whole story we read in the newspapers of old and that all sources on the internet are NOT reliable or the best (no matter what we are looking up to find out). We help ourselves after checking the medical portal by not jumping to conclusions about the words until we can get a knowledgeable explanation from our physicians.
It grows by feeding the spiritual foundation of faith and getting outside of all these other things to listen to good music, take casual walks listening to the birds and noting the creation around us, having coffee with good friends with phones set aside or turned off for those minutes. It includes noticing the beauty of the sunrise and sunset, the delicious taste of our favorite tea or coffee, ice cream or other delight. All these get us back in touch with the real world outside the matrix that is trying to be pulled over our eyes at every turn.
If we let it happen, we discover God is still there and nothing that Is happening has caught Him off-guard and He has our provision and the grace for this moment and the next.
Photo of Boom Lake near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada by Pam Ecrement