Home > Faith > 10 Things I Hate About Me, or, The 21-Step Program, in Which Is Examined the Command to “Be Perfect”

10 Things I Hate About Me, or, The 21-Step Program, in Which Is Examined the Command to “Be Perfect”

I’ve had several conversations this week about a sermon I didn’t hear, or rather a topic addressed in the sermon, specifically a challenge the speaker had taken on for himself based on a principle which in truth is not a new idea to me, nor to modern mankind in general, as, according to the vast cloud knowledge of Wikipedia, it was first written about 50 years ago and since repeatedly¬†referenced and revered throughout the self help industry by gurus like Zig Ziglar. (I don’t have much idea who he is beyond name recognition, but it’s such a silly name I had to write it down. Zig Ziglar. Say it out loud to someone out of context and you will see.) The principle under discussion is the idea that a habit is formed (or unformed) in 21 days, and the conversations I’ve lately had have been of the very specific and practical sort, as in, “Hey, let’s pick a habit and change it in 21 days.” The examples in the sermon were complaining, criticism and gossiping – how each of those is defined and exactly why it is undesirable enough to spend weeks changing is certainly up for negotiation. But the 21-day idea, as those more learned than I have demonstrated, is a sticky one.

So after just recently spending 1000 words describing how impossible the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount are simply to practice, I’ve decided to try and put them to practice, or at least some of them, or at least one of them which essentially includes all of them: “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

That’s right, 21 Days to a Perfect You. Or me, that is. And by perfect, I’m thinking changed, and by changed, I’m thinking in one particular way at a time. So perhaps not perfect in 21 days, but it wouldn’t be a self-help program if in the end it didn’t deliver anywhere near what it promised. The point perhaps is that though I’m not intending to go through the Sermon on the Mount point by point, there are certain habits, certain responses and attitudes I’ve picked up over the last several years, and others that have been with me quite a while, that have not exactly made me a better me, and I believe I’d like to change them now, one at a time.

I didn’t hear the sermon (the one that is the subject of conversation, that is, not the Sermon on the Mount, though I didn’t hear that one either), and I haven’t read any of the eminent self-help tomes, so don’t call this method well-researched, but the idea is this: Pick a habit and don’t do it for 21 days. Start over if you mess up. Simple; hopefully effective. As one friend of mine pointed out, doing it this way could of course take three years if you keep screwing up. And perhaps by then I would have quit, though I would at least be more practiced.

It’s not the most original idea, and not the most profound. But sometimes what it takes is a reminder, and a few people to do it with. Actually, for me that is often what it takes.

  1. Jane
    July 17, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I think I’ll join you on this. I’ve already been working on one habit. Your right, it may take 3 years short of a miracle!

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