These are anxious timesWe are stuck at home. The economy is unstable. The job market is uncertain. The country is polarized. The world needs healing.
All of this uncertainty can lead to anxiety. On a personal note, chronic anxiety is best treated with medical care and/or counseling first. I have dealt with anxiety with all of the above. But there are other holistic practices that also help with overcoming chronic or occasional anxiety in addition to medical care and counseling.
Based on diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Study Replication (NCS-R), past year an estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults had any anxiety disorder in the past year and an estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience any anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.
One way to lessen our stress level and live healthier lives is through acts of Holy Mischief.
Imagine a world where kindness is the norm. Where we truly loved our neighbor. A world where love is the default.
Imagine a movement that is not so much about a place or a program, but about people and a purpose.
Imagine a movement where faith was not dictated by a calendar.
Imagine a movement where people engaged in fun acts of kindness that also renewed their heart and minds.
This is what happens when we engage in #HolyMischief
Benefits of Holy MischiefWhile Holy Mischief is a bit more than altruism, the physiological and mental benefits of altruism can make us healthier now and help us to live longer. An article on WebMD states, Two large studies found that older adults who volunteered reaped benefits in their health and well-being. Those who volunteered were living longer than non-volunteers. Another large study found a 44% reduction in early death among those who volunteered a lot -- a greater effect than exercising four times a week.
Doing selfless good deeds for others moves us towards a phenomenon known as "helpers high." While the exact physiological changes are unknown, a few small studies point to lowered stress response and improved immunity (higher levels of protective antibodies) when one is feeling empathy and love.
How do I get started?There is no right way or wrong way to participate in Holy Mischief. I have a method that I feel makes the most impact and enables the impact to multiply and last longer. This four step process starts with prayer.
Prayer is our time with God. The words can be out loud, in your head, a thought of gratitude, a cry for help etc. In fact John Wesley says this, "God will do nothing but in answer to prayer. Whether we think of, or speak to, God, whether we act or suffer for him, all is prayer, when we have no other object than his love, and the desire of pleasing him. Proceed with much prayer, and your way will be made plain." (“The works of the rev. John Wesley”, p.383)
Prayer is a part of who we are. Prayer is our communication with God and because of that intimacy (whether it is with a group of people or an individual), each encounter is unique and precious. We may not always be attentive of our connection with God but that doesn't mean it isn't there.
For more on how to pray, go to my previous post here: Prayer Basics.
Authentic ActivationThis is the most complex part of Holy Mischief. Deciding what to do , when to do it, and with whom can be a stumbling block for many people. If you’ve prayed about this first then perhaps God has given you the answers already, but God doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes you just need to be attentive in your every day life to be open for times of possible connection with others. While this system has its faults, here are some steps to help you not only be authentic but to activate God’s love in the world:
- Pray - (if you haven't already) You aren’t doing this just to check a box but because of your relationship with God.
- Truly set your intention to love your neighbor. When you do that you open yourself up to see where God is working in the world.
- Pay attention. There are people in need all around us but each person’s need looks very different. Sometimes people need to eat. Sometimes they need to know that another person sees them So for one person you might buy them a cup of coffee or breakfast sandwich because you’re not sure when they’ll get their next meal. For another person you might buy them a cup of coffee or a breakfast sandwich because you see them and it doesn’t matter what they’ve done or who they are… but they matter. Both people do.
- Don’t throw away your shot. If you get the nagging feeling that you missed an opportunity, you probably did. But don’t dwell on your lack of follow through. Instead reflect on why you missed it. What were the clues that this person was someone who needed Holy Mischief? How can you be more aware next time?
- Reflect. Where did you see God in your Holy Mischief encounter?
- Rinse and repeat.
Share the story.Don’t share the story to focus on what you did. Share the story to show what God did so that someone else will be inspired.
“Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is that to go on living I have to tell stories, that stories are the one sure way I know to touch the heart and change the world.”— Dorothy Allison
You matter. Your story matters. It matters because other people matter too. When you share your story of self discovery with them, you give them permission to begin the process of finding their purpose too. Write down the names of people you need to share your story with and make appointments with them. They will be grateful you did and sharing your story will help you refine your purpose.
Habitize“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”― Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
In other words, rinse and repeat.
I hope that you always spend time looking for ways to spread Holy Mischief in the world. When you do, share the story with me!
Until Everyone Hears,
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