Week 7: The Power Of Habit
We have arrived at Week Seven of our seven-week countdown to the New Year 5777! If you would like to catch up with the previous teachings scroll through our BLOG!
This Sunday, Rosh Hashanah arrives with sweet honey with apples! Many of us are deceived by the lure of the sweet foods associated with the holiday. We think that Rosh Hashanah is the most joyous of the Holy Days. However, according to tradition, Rosh Hashanah is Yom Din: the ominous Day of Judgement. As it turns out, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement, where we are forgiven) is, of the two major holidays, the more festive time.
Framing Rosh Hashanah as the Day of Judgement, how we do prepare? Last week, we explored the impact of a regular spiritual practice. On the inverse, the habit of sinning, or missing the mark, also has a serious effect.
Maimonides makes a confounding statement about Divine judgement of sin, stating:
"When a person's sins are being weighed against his merits, [God] does not count a sin that was committed only once or twice. [A sin] is only [counted] if it was committed three times or more."
In this interpretation, we are basically given two slips before we’re held accountable. There are certainly texts which undermine this concept, however it offers wisdom, especially when considered with Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit, who explains:
“This [behavioral] process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: THE HABIT LOOP”
Essentially our habits—how we interact with our loved ones, perform at work, engage in healthy behaviors, and the like—lead to significant life outcomes.
These two concepts interact to assert a poignant observation: God can forgive a single negative occurrence. When actions become habit, they take root in a deeper way. The long-term implications of habit most often outweigh the single occurrence events in life, whether good or bad.
So as we approach Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgement, we leave you with a simple question: What is one habit that you must change this year?
If you've tried and failed to change that habit in the past, try following Duhigg's book to seek change more intentionally this year.