Double Dividends of Gratitude

Last night I committed two cardinal sins that effected me greatly. One, I had a cup of coffee at 6:30 pm as I prepared to have a Zoom Meeting with our Board of Elders. Two, I watched CNN at 11:00 pm.

The coffee and the Elder Board meeting was a sure-fire cocktail to guarantee I would not be going to bed early or fall asleep fast. I am always energized by the Elder meetings and that gets my brain going and coffee is never a good idea for a fifty-something year old after 4:00 pm.

Then you throw in the weight of the international news so late at night and I knew that I was ready to fight to fall asleep. But I was pleasantly surprised last night.

I have recently begun to incorporate a nesting set of Tiny Habits with my bedtime routine. Let me explain. For years I have had the habit of quoting Psalm 139: 23-24 when I get into bed, after Joanne and I pray together.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

This scripture always helps settle my spirit, and I will quote it in my head as many times as I need to calm myself. Now enter the Tiny Habits. Dr. B.J. Fogg is a person that I have followed for a number of years and he has developed a simple way to create strong and lasting habits. He does this through the use of Tiny Habits.

Simply put a Tiny Habit is something you can do in 30-60 seconds and that is tied to something you already do habitually. It is a proven method to help people develop healthy and lasting habits.

So, for me, when I sit on the edge of my bed at night and set my alarm on my phone the next morning, as soon as I set my phone down, I take three deep breaths to relax my body before I lay down. Then I lay down and quote Psalm 139. So I have nested two Tiny Habits together.

Those two Tiny Habits usually do the trick to get me to relax, but over this last few weeks, with a bit of extra anxiety from all that is happening in our world, I have chosen to nest in one more Tiny Habit to this routine.

Now, immediately after I pray Psalm 139, I list two or three things I am grateful for. It has been proven that gratitude has very positive implications for our mental wellbeing. As I have gotten in the habit of doing this, I have found that usually as soon as I practice gratitude my thoughts usually turn more positive and creative, rather than negative and fearful.

If you struggle with fear or anxiety, you may wish to try something similar with Tiny Habits and especially gratitude. It can have a huge impact on our mood and our resiliency.

Do you want to get even more out of the habit of gratitude? Would you love to not only help yourself feel better, but spread that feeling to someone else? Then I encourage you to add one more habit, that may not be so tiny but have a huge impact on you and others.

Every time you acknowledge gratitude for another person, chose to reach out to that person within 24 hours to express that appreciation to them. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel, and you know how good it will make the other person feel as well.

Want to hear more and be more motivate? Then watch the following video!

Community Building and Covid-19

The information I am sharing here is from the good folks at the Tamarack Institute. The Tamarack Institute develops and supports collaborative strategies that engage citizens and institutions to solve major community issues across Canada and beyond.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sharon-mccutcheon-_vkztdUDhvY-unsplash-1024x683.jpg
We Can Still Connect!

Here are five community building stories and ideas sent in by Tamarack Institute members in response to COVID-19.

  1. How Cochrane is Fostering Community through Technology – Communities in Cochrane are creating fun and easy ways to connect through technology.
  2. Woodstock’s Virtual Storytimes – A Community Librarian in Ingersoll started Virtual Storytimes so children and their parents or caregivers could feel like they were still at their local library.
  3. Edmonton Stays Connected with Community Postcards – A woman in Edmonton has created printable postcards as people are self-isolating showing just how easy it is to spread kindness during these uncertain times.
  4. Hamilton Caremongering Campaign Supports Local Community – A Facebook group, CareMongering-HamOnt, has popped up in Hamilton as a community response to COVID-19.
  5. Waterloo’s Window Walks - Waterloo is encouraging neighbours to participate in fun and easy Neighbourhood Window Walks to encourage staying connected.

Search Me o God…..Please!

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23

I have never been a consistent blogger, nor have I ever felt that I should be. This week made me rethink that. As I write this we have just come through the first of maybe many interesting weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As I wrestled all week to know how to manage leadership and shepherding within our community of faith at Leduc Fellowship Church, I felt that I wanted to reach out to those who wanted to be reached, but I did not want to bother those who felt I had already sent out too many emails.

This blog seemed like the right tool to use. I have used it on and off in the past, but never did I see it as a necessity. Now I do.

It has been one heck of a week with one unusual change after another. Starting with students being told to not attend school for who knows how long, and then that worship gatherings and family events including weddings and funerals were to be no larger than 50 attendees.

What a scramble for parents to find daycare when all have been closed, many churches to figure out the technological side of doing virtual church, brides and grooms cutting their guests lists and families not being able to honour the life and legacy of their departed loved ones. All of these scenarios were part of life for me this week and for so many.

I must admit, this week has caused me some anxiety and stress. Despite this strain, I must say I have seen much good. I have seen neighbour reach out to neighbour, I have seen people turn to prayer and worship over dispair, I have seen teamwork that is off the charts, I have seen an outpouring of love and grace, and I have seen people slowing down to care and share life together.

Over the next days, weeks or months, I hope to use this space to share the good and the great that I see. There may be moments of the difficult, but I believe there will be more moments of greatness.

Keep checking back!