For a few years in high school, I got really into role-playing video games. I loved it. For hours I would dive into another world and live out a reality that was not mine. When I played those games I would get lost for hours. I am so thankful that my parents put a limit on this activity or else I might not have had a life outside of that clunky old computer. It feels weird thinking back on that season, twenty years ago, but I still have that propensity toward doing activities that bring me pleasure and allow me to escape.
In Genesis 1:31, NLT, it states, “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.”
God created a beautiful process in our brains, making sure we went after those good things. He gave us hormones and chemicals like dopamine and endorphins. He designed us to experience pleasure. However, the moment that what brings us those feel-good vibes crosses over into the realm of super processed or synthetic pleasure, something changes. We actually receive a bigger hit from man-made pleasure than natural ones. For example, a cup of fruit juice triggers a greater release of dopamine than eating an apple whole. Watching a drama on TV is more thrilling than playing card games with our family. Trying to win a thousand bucks on a scratcher ticket is much more exciting than working for a couple weeks for the same paycheck.
Those easy wins and highs make normal pleasure seem less sparkly and attractive. That is why we often have to take a break from vices to really begin to enjoy our natural world again. When I take long breaks from processed food, I notice the depth of flavor of whole food. When I take a break from TV, the conversations at the dinner table are so much more enjoyable. That is just the way it is. We have to deliberately take a break from those things to find balance again.
Today, I want you to actively search for the natural pleasures in your world that seemed less exciting when your old habit was around. For example, I have noticed that laughing with my girls is the perfect way to ease stress when before I was drawn to grazing on whatever sweet and crunchy food was available in the pantry. Now that I know this, it has become something I go after instead of dismissing it in search of that bigger hit that didn’t serve my body or my life.
Journal Prompt: Have you noticed yourself enjoying naturally occurring pleasures in your life more as you take a break from your old habit? What are they? How could you regularly incorporate them into your life? What else would you like to try?
by Lora Armendariz
You Can Do It!
Do you want to fall out of love with a destructive habit? The first 42 episodes of this podcast are a resource for anyone who wants encouragement and information as they take a six week break from a habit in order to fall out of love with it.