Anxious this Year? Little Choices Can Make a Difference (“Small Matters” Keynote)

I’ve felt the tug of anxiety this year more than ever in my life.  I don’t mean the sharp, clinical kind.  Rather, it’s more like a low-grade fever.  Sometimes the feeling fades to almost nothing.  Other days it threatens to color everything I see.

Many, many friends have confessed similar feelings.  It’s as if anxiety were thick in the air, like mosquitoes, buzzing and whispering and nibbling.

Last month, CAFO took a simple poll of nonprofit and church leaders in this field.  We asked whether they’d felt more anxiety in 2019 or 2020.  By a 7 to 1 margin, they pointed to an increased anxiety this year.


More than a third said, “A lot more in 2020.”

Why?  It’s COVID.  It’s quarantines.  It’s loss and fear of loss.  It’s missing human touch, even in handshakes or hugs.  It’s angry politics.  It’s race relations.  It’s riots.  It’s concern for our country.  And so much more.

In the opening talk for CAFO “Small Matters,” we take this pervasive anxiety head-on.  I share what this buzz of anxiety has felt like for me this year, and how anxious thoughts diminish both our own happiness and our heart for service.   We then spotlight four simple choices that recent studies show to can significantly reduce anxiety.  Finally, we look at the deeper moorings that can help us keep calm hearts in unsettling times.

Watch the talk here – “People of Peace in an Age of Anxiety.”