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Cars are getting smarter. You can open them without a key, navigate the world from a GPS screen on your dashboard, and make calls just by saying, “Call Bob” aloud. There are touch pads, back-up views, and seemingly countless ways our cars integrate with our phones. None of us would be surprised if the next automobiles to roll off the assembly line had sensors in the seats that take your blood pressure, monitor your oxygen intake, and count the calories you had for breakfast.
Every time I start my car, a screen on the dashboard pops up with a “contract.” At the bottom is a button I can press that says, “I Agree.” And, though you can still drive without reading it, the sign will not go away until you press “I Agree.”
So, what’s in the fine print of this document I never have time to read? Am I agreeing to buy a condo? Make a deal with the devil? Give away my firstborn? The other day I decided to sit and read it, before agreeing. And, just as you would expect, it was filled with advice about safe driving (plus the humorous parts about map data possibly being incorrect and then, ironically, not watching the screen). It turns out I actually do agree, so now I can rest knowing I have not been lying all these months.
But it made me think about how quickly we fall into a pattern that makes our life click along smoothly. We start the car, we buckle up, we click “I Agree,” and we back out. We are creatures of habit, and we readily adapt to any list of instructions that comes with our new devices.
Could we use this human tendency to improve our lives? What if we placed our scriptures on top of our breakfast bowl, and decided we couldn’t eat until we’d first read a few verses? What if our televisions and videogames wouldn’t start until we pressed a button affirming that we’d prayed and meditated today?
I’m not suggesting we use force, just the repetition that builds habit. How cool would it be if I could get some sharp IT wiz to reprogram my car’s dashboard, so that the “contract” that pops up, is an excerpt from a General Conference talk? And I would be able to press “I Agree” before leaving? Even if it were the Ten Commandments every day, how great would that be, to have that reminder and affirm agreement to them each time you get in the car?
This desire for rules and routine behavior has been used by parents, teachers, military leaders, even choreographers, who want people to follow a designated course. Think of your morning regimen as you brush your teeth and get ready for the day. You don’t even question it; you just do it.
We could design a similar set of actions that would include any area where we’d like to improve. Scripture study, family history research, prayer, forgiveness—and insert it into a daily pattern that already exists.
If you’ve been looking for an easier way to make scripture reading (or any other goal) a regular part of your routine, think of your daily footprint. Where do you walk, when do you drive, what do you do when you get home, how to you get ready for bed? Now add your goal to the existing routine.
And, if you have a car like mine, you can imagine the screen filled with the scriptures you just read before leaving, and gladly press, “I Agree” before heading off for the day. We should, at least, be as smart as our cars.
Watch the music video of Hilton’s song, What Makes a Woman, from her new musical, The Best Medicine (with music by Jerry Williams). Her books are available on her website, here. Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.