In his book “The Power of Habit” author Charles Duhigg tells the story of the town of Kufa in Iraq. It was a town which had become notorious for riots that almost always turned violent. That was until a US army major analysed videotapes of recent riots and discovered a pattern.
His solution to stop the rioting was simple. He met with the mayor of Kufa to ask that food vendors not be allowed in the plazas. The mayor agreed. A few weeks later a small crowd gathered near the Great Mosque of Kufa. Throughout the afternoon the crowd grew and people started chanting angry slogans. It was a familiar pattern, until dusk. As evening came people got hungry, and began looking for their familiar kebab seller. When there were none to be found, the rioters simply went home and by 8pm the plaza was empty.
Without fuel to feed their anger, a destructive habit was broken in Kufa.
What could you do differently? Do you recognise any unhelpful patterns in your life?
The thought of breaking a cycle of riots in an Iraqi town must have seemed like an impossible task to the US Army major when he arrived at this small town. He could have used the threat of violence to break the cycle, brought in curfews, and sought to have legislation changed to limit the freedom of people to gather. He could have coerced them to behave the way he wanted. Instead he took a different tact. He dared to believe that the people of Kufa had it in them to behave differently. All that was needed was for the fuel which hurt the town to be removed.
Is there a pattern, a behaviour or a habit which is hurting you and those around you? Does it seem overwhelming? Consider what is feeding this habit or behaviour? One small adjustment in your patterns might be enough to break a cycle.