Reportedly, a young man doing open mic night at a comedy club back when Jerry Seinfeld was still a touring comic had a chance to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. Seinfeld told him that to be a better comic he had to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.
Seinfeld put a big annual calendar on the wall and with a red marker he put an X over every day he completed his task of writing. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it, and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
Seinfeld was talking about creating a habit. We all know it isn’t the one-time effort that gets us where we want to go; it’s the consistent daily action that builds a habit. Perhaps that habit may even transform our life. Conversely, skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next.
Unfortunately, we are daily bombarded with negative events happening in the world around us. Many of us are also going through personal trials and circumstances. One way to enable our minds to move in a direction away from fear and anxiety is to get into the habit of daily focusing on things that channel our minds toward the positive.
The Israelites of the Old Testament were instructed to write the laws on gates and doorposts and bind them to their wrists so that “they may be like frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 11:18). One purpose of the instruction was so their minds and hearts would repeatedly be fixed on the word of God and their relationship until it was an ingrained habit of thought.
Perhaps you are already in the habit of reading a daily devotional book, a verse or other words of affirmation that provide you with hope, inspiration or strength to counter the fears and anxiety all around us. Maybe you make it a practice to listen to a positive and uplifting podcast or music that helps free you from the external and calms your inner spirit.
If, however, you don’t already have a daily habit like this, I encourage you to think for a moment about what daily action might make a profound impact on your life and wellbeing. I hope you’ll start today and put a big red X and then …
Don’t break the chain!
A word of prayer…
Holy Father, thank you for giving us a way to change our inner spirit and free ourselves from the fears and anxieties that weigh us down. Thank you for the reminder that we can renew our minds daily by applying it to those things that will transform. Permit us to see and hear in a new way and give up old habits of thought for new life-giving and affirming habits.
Written by Renee Reimer, senior vice president and general counsel for Buckner International.