God, Health and Happiness

I commend the book "God, Health and Happiness" by Dr Scott Morris of the Church Health Center in Memphis, TN.  I'm using it as the basis for a three week study on health and wellness at St Paul Lutheran in Melrose Park, IL. (A later edit: The title has been changed to Health Care You Can Live With. Same exact book, different title.)

Scott speaks from the medical pro side of things but also as a Pastor - because he is both, and has been from the beginning, more than 25 years ago. The book is very readable, with 33 very short chapters that walk you through the current state of our health care and how we got here, the church's history with health care, a biblical perspective on whole person health and suggestions for moving forward, personally and as a congregation.

How Children Learn Best.

In my workshops I talk about three critical things: exercise, diet and play.  I often mention in conjunction with the 'play' piece and want to share a recent article by Jill Vialet, Playworks CEO and founder.  Jill shares some research happening in Denmark on developing a 'pedagogy of play'. Certainly of interest to Early Childhood folks but I hope also to the rest of us, including those who work with adults.

Primary Food.

This post comes from a blog I watch regularly on my Twitter feed: Integrated Nutrition. The blog post is about "Primary Food".  It is a helpful look at keeping a whole person view of health.  As the post says, you can be eating all healthy foods and still not feel truly healthy if other key areas are out of whack.  Their key point is here (they are pretty weak on the source of Spiritual power but we know where that comes from):

The bottom line is: when you are nourished and happy in the ways that truly matter, food becomes secondary. 

Here are some of the things we consider to be Primary Foods:

  • Regular physical movement
  • Meaningful positive relationships
  • Fulfilling work
  • Some form of spiritual connection (whatever that means for you)
  • Following your personal passions
  • Non-dietary forms of self-care
  • Playfulness, creativity, and fun

Some simple things to work on. May be good to start where you have strengths and are doing well and affirm your positives and then build off the strengths into the areas that are weaker.

Slow Down...

Check out the most recent (August 26/2016) TED Radio Hour podcast (a synthesis of some of the topics from a variety of TED Talks from around the world) about slowing down.  It talks about the boost to creativity that happens when we slow down. And also looks into the brain of extreme procrastinators to see what we can learn. And what about the gain from writing letters by hand?

Also - "Slow TV"  - how about watching the video from the front and sides of a four hour train ride; millions of Norwegians (and many others) are doing just that.

Bottom line is the gain we can experience in slowing down. We are designed to need rest, and when the brain gets good breaks, distractions and diversions our productivity and creativity go significantly up.

Understanding Habits...

Charles Duhigg has written a very helpful book called The Power of Habit. It looks at how habits are formed and how to change them.

Some key things to remember: He describes the 'habit loop': Cue, Routine, Reward.  The 'Cue' might be something like the stress of a difficult meeting; the 'Routine' we end up repeating might be eating comfort foods and the 'Reward' is that we feel some relief.  If that pattern has been used for a long time it will be difficult to change, but not impossible.

Duhigg suggests keeping the 'Cue' and the 'Reward' and inserting a new routine - in the example above, a routine that is healthier for the long haul, so you substitute exercise for food.  He is careful to say that the old routine will still be there and, in the transition phase, it will be easy to slip back into the old routine. 

Another key learning is what he calls 'Belief' and 'Community'. If we believe that the new routine will actually work (perhaps you've learned that research has shown exercise to be a great stress reducer). Keeping with the new routine will be easier if you actually have tested and found it to be true yourself. And finding others who share the belief, or the need to change a similar routine adds dramatically to the chance of success.

He also wrote about some very interesting research that shows willpower to be something like a muscle - the more you use it the stronger it gets.  And focusing on one area of your life - exercising for stress reduction for example - can help in other areas as well.  Spending time thinking about how to be successful in that area and setting yourself up for success dramatically increases the chances of improving in other areas of life you'd like to work on.

Read me first...

This blog will be (generally) a weekly blog to support the pilot project called Realign to the Design (RTD). RTD is an attempt to use regular gatherings of Pastors (and other full time church workers) as a support group for their overall health journey.  Different Denominations call them different things. My background is LCMS Lutheran and we call them monthly Circuit meetings - a regular gathering of Pastors in a geographically close area used for study, worship and fellowship.

The RTD pilot will include a kick-off workshop, this blog, monthly phone calls to add another layer of accountability, a Facebook page for peer to peer posting, and some kind of expression in the local congregation to bring the members on board as well.

This blog will include posts on the three main topics of the workshop - and of trying to stay healthy - exercise, diet and play. Plus whatever else looks helpful and interesting.  I'll try to respond to what I hear from the regular phone calls so the resources are what is being asked for.

Blessings on the journey. Contact me if you have questions.

Play Overview

Play has changed.  Take a look at the first severalminutes of Cain's Arcade on YouTube. Here is my take: I don't want to minimize the creativity Cain put into his Arcade - it was quite impressive. But, really, not long ago every kid played like this. No one came to your door from NBC Nightly News and wanted to put you on TV. That is just how kids played.

Check out an interesting article on "11 Benefits of Play" and also check out Playworks. Their whole focus is teaching kids how to play at recess.   Not a type-o. When kids play, learning improves and behavioral issues decline.

And play is not just for kids. Much more to come...