The good news is that eating fresh foods, getting off the couch and exercising more, and making time to pray and read scripture contribute to better minds and bodies. And, perhaps, the spiritual activities could be the most beneficial for your long-term health.
Unfortunately, the bad news is that most people have trouble following through with any program of healthy activities.
Because even though we can be motivated, this motivation carries us only so far. Utilizing willpower, as well, causes us to fall short.
Why do these fail us when they bring hope in the beginning?
Motivation and willpower fail us because they are not strong enough to override the bad habits we unconsciously continue in.
The apostle Paul ran into a similar problem. He recognized, “The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”
When frustration and discouragement set in, a new approach is needed.
This is why I was intrigued while reading Surprisingly Unstuck: The Power of Small Healthy Habits, In a World Addicted to Instant Results. In Unstuck, Maria Brilaki talks about the limits of motivation and willpower, and the might of small steps.
Apparently, when Brilaki, the founder of Fitness Reloaded, refers to small steps, she means “ridiculously small steps.”
An example of creating a habit, as Brilaki states in her book, could be the simple steps of “just marching in front of your TV for 30 [seconds] every day. The easier a task is, the faster you will make it a habit (plus the fewer repetitions you are going to need). Marching in front of your TV could be a habit in 1-2 weeks.”
If you want to apply the same concept to spiritual growth, a ridiculously small step could be: Every time you think about food (from carrot cake to carrot sticks), you could ponder the significance of the line in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” You could even reflect on, for added measure, a spiritual sense of the line written by Mary Baker Eddy, “Give us grace for today; feed the famished affections.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)
You’d be utilizing the thought of food to spiritually nourish yourself and others.
Why just 30 seconds and two spiritual sentences? Because, according to Brilaki, “ridiculously small steps” create unconscious habits which lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Notice how these steps were tied to triggers – watching TV and a thought of food.
Tying the ridiculously small steps to deeds done throughout the day allow healthy actions to become part of your daily routine, without even thinking about them. Building healthy habits brings longer lasting results. Brilaki writes, “Even though most people think they need more motivation, [what] they actually need are easier tasks and more triggers to do the right activities.”
Brilaki also explains the importance of preparation. “Note that any healthy endeavor is never as easy as it seems at first. There are always implicit tasks that need to be taken care of.”
Whether its buying, washing, slicing, and placing fruit where it can easily be seen and eaten, placing running shoes by the door where they will grab your attention when you arrive home from work, or attaching sticky notes containing inspiring quotes to your bathroom mirror, each task prepares you for success.
In the Forward to Unstuck, Maria Brilaki writes, “This book is about transformation.” Although Brilaki’s book is chiefly confined to physical outcomes, her strategies can also be used to attain spiritual transformations. And this is what intrigues me the most.
Because spirituality is the power that directs thought patterns that are mentally and physically beneficial. Spirituality, rather than motivation and willpower, takes us all the way and causes us to succeed. And spiritual wisdom leads society to the proper balance of activity and nutriment.
If you want a healthier lifestyle, prepare and then take action. Perhaps, “ridiculously small steps” are how we “surprisingly” find ourselves “unstuck” and become aware of how we are meant to live.
— Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: KeithWommack.com