Living PSALM 23 Daily

A field guide to living a satisfying life in a digital world

This guide is intended to provide you with some tools to help lower the distractions and corrosive influence advertising has on our lives in this Attention Economy.  Psalm 23 calls us to live knowing that we have enough in Jesus, our Good Shepherd.  Our present culture seems uniquely engineered to make us unhappy, disconnected and lonely.  It is our hope that these tools can help you make some healthy changes so you can enjoy a more fulfilling, rewarding and joy-filled life with the Good Shepherd.

Psalm 23  (Common English Bible)

1  The Lord is my shepherd.
           I lack nothing.
2   He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
         he leads me to restful waters;
3          he keeps me alive.
     He guides me in proper paths
               for the sake of his good name.

Gratitude

The first verse is perhaps the most difficult to grasp in the entire Psalm.  How do we find completeness in God when we live in a world engineered to make us desire more and more?


2 Studies

Studies at the University of Florida and University of Minnesota found that when individual took time out in the evening to reflect on the positive events of the day that individuals felt a great sense of calm and reported a better perspective on life.

The Lord's Prayer

When we look to the Lord's Prayer as an example of what a robust prayer would look like we see the essential elements of prayer unfold...  

ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving & Supplication (asking God for help)


The renowned author Anne Lamott says that prayer can be boiled down to these 3 simples phrases...  "Help me, Thank you & wow!"

[Listen to her 2012 NPR interview about prayer here]


Thankfulness/Gratitude should be an

essential part of our daily life


Practice Gratitude Daily

It's important to develop a practice of engaging gratitude daily.  This practice needs to be something repeatable and simple so you will do it daily without it feeling like a chore.


We'd like to suggest the practice of keeping a Gratitude Journal.

It's something that's incredibly simple, but it can make a big difference in your daily perspective.  Here's how you do it.


Gratitude Journal How To:

1.  Keep a small journal or pad of paper near your bed.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but it does have to be something you'll actually use long-term.  There are gratitude journals that you can purchase.  We'll put some links to them below


2.  First thing when you wake up in the morning.... write down 3 things you are thankful for.  They don't have to be earth-shaking huge.  Literally anything you are thankful for will work.  Coffee, central heat, air conditioning, that good sandwich you had for lunch yesterday, your family, you job.... anything you are thankful for will work.


3.  Second, immediately after you write down your 3 thankful things write down a positive affirmation about yourself.  Write down something you are good at or a good decision you made.  Be gracious and charitable with yourself.  Look for the good in you and affirm it.


4.  When it's close to bedtime and you are settling down for the evening... grab your journal again and reflect on your day.  Write down 3  amazing things that happened that day.  Again like step 2 they don't have to be huge things.  Sometimes a good morning coffee is something to be incredibly thankful for.


In steps 2 & 3 you are engaging the "thank you" part of Anne Lamott's prayer and in step 4 you are engaging the "wow!".

_________________________


If you feel you need more help with your journal or want to read about even more ways to keep a gratitude journal here are some links to some article and products that might be of interest to you.

  • About Gratitude Journals from the UC Berkeley blog Greater Good in Action  (LINK)
  • The Benefits of a Gratitude Journal and How to Maintain One from the Huffington Post (LINK)
  • The Five Minute Journal - A journal you can purchase that gives you daily quotes and other exercise to go along with the practices listed above (Rev. Shane Smith uses this daily)  (LINK)


Psalm 23 (Common English Bible)

4  Even when I walk through the

       darkest valley,

            I fear no danger because you

            are with me.
    Your rod and your staff—
            they protect me.


5     You set a table for me
             right in front of my enemies.
       You bathe my head in oil;
            my cup is so full it spills over!

Stewardship

Your attention is a precious commodity.  You only have a set amount of it.  You can try all you want but you'll never be able to give more or less attention than there are hours in the day.  You are always paying attention to something.  


So ask yourself these questions.

Are you paying attention to the things

you want to be focusing on?


Are there things that steal your attention

and waste your time robbing you of the time

and energy to do what you want to do.... 

be who you want to be?


The Attention Economy

Most of the services we engage with online these days are free.  Facebook, Twitter, Google, Snapchat and Instagram don't charge a dime to use their services.  How is it possible for them to make so much money without charging a single cent?  It's because these sites  mine your time & attention to sell to advertisers.  Their goal is to get you ask hooked as possible on their product that you spend more and more time in their apps and services and see more and more of their ads.

Can You Be Addicted to Your Phone?

The 3 design elements that make smartphones so hard to put down, explained by Google’s former design ethicist. 



Combating the Attention Economy and Addictive Design

May of the strategies and tools listed below are provided by the Center for Human Technology, a non-profit whose goal is to reverse the digital attention crisis and realign technology with humanity's best interests.  Click here to see their list which contains some additional tools not listed


Taking Control of Your Phone

  • Turn off all notifications except from people

    Notifications appear in RED dots because red is a trigger color that instantly draws our attention. But most notifications are generated by machines, not actual people. They keep our phones vibrating to lure us back into apps we don't really need to be in.


    Visit Settings > Notifications and turn off all notifications, banners, and badges, except from apps where real people want your attention; e.g. messaging apps like WhatsApp, FB Messenger, Signal, Telegram, WeChat etc.
  • Turn YOur phone Grayscale

    Colorful icons give our brains shiny rewards every time we unlock. Set your phone to grayscale to remove those positive reinforcements. It helps many people check their phone less.


    iPhone Users: Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut (bottom) > Color Filters. This allows you to quickly triple-tap the home button to toggle grayscale on and off, so you keep color when you need it.


    Android Users: Click here for directions

  • Try keeping your home screen to tools only.

    Do you open apps mindlessly because they are the first thing you see when you unlock your phone?


    Limit your first page of apps to just tools–the apps you use for quick in-and-out tasks like Maps, Camera, Calendar, Notes, or Lyft. Move the rest of your apps, especially mindless choices, off the first page and into folders.

  • Charge your device outside the bedroom.

    Get a separate alarm clock in your bedroom, and charge your phone in another room (or on the other side of the room). This way, you can wake up without getting sucked into your phone before you even get out of bed.

  • Go cold turkey: 

    Remove social media from your phone.

    This one is tough, but effective! If you really want to use your phone less, we recommend removing all the major social media apps from your phone. It’s the easiest way to cut back, as these apps can easily gobble up so much of our time. Train yourself to use them from your computer only (if at all).


    Note: You can delete the Facebook app and still get some specific features, i.e. Facebook Messenger for messages, and "Local" for events.

6  Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life,  

and I will live in the Lord’s house as long as I live.

Apps and Extensions

to help live out Psalm 23 daily

Ad Blockers

These nifty little add-ons help limit the corrosive effect of advertising by blocking most ads you would see on a webpage.   (Click title of each to view and install)


uBlock Origin (Chrome, Safari, Firefox)
Reclaim ~30-40% of your attention with every article you read.


Site Limiters

These helpful extensions limit the functions of some site that contribute to unintentionally wasting time


Distraction-Free YouTube

(Chrome) - Removes recommended videos from the side bar of youtube, making you less likely to get sucked in to unintentional content-holes. (Does not currently disable autoplay.)


Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator

(Chrome) Removes the Facebook newsfeed and blurs the sidebars and notifications, allowing you to use some of the more utilitarian features of Facebook without getting sucked into the newsfeed.

Healthy Practices

Here are some additional practices that can help you spend more time on the things you actually want to do and less time in app & sites that make us unhappy


Check Email Only 3x a Day

Turn off all email notifications and schedule set times to check email throughout the day.  11am, 4pm and 7pm are good times to start with.  Most of us don't need to view our email the moment something comes in.  This practice leads to a healthier balance.


Set a Time Limit for Social Media

Parents often give their children strict rules about how much TV they watch in a day... 15min, 30 min, 1hr.  Do the same thing for yourself except with Social Media.  Set an amount of time where you can engage social media the way you want to without suffering the negative time-wasting effects.  You can even use apps like Cold Turkey to help hold you to those time limits.


Prioritize In-Person Interaction

This one should go-without-saying but it's incredibly easy to use the veneer of social media to keep us from prioritizing in-person interactions.  If you created and extra hour and half each week by using some of the practices listed you could reinvest that time in connecting with friends.