Posted by: Ms. Daryl Wood | February 23, 2023

The Canary in The Coal Mine

In 1911 miners began taking canaries in little cages with them deep into the coal mines. These beautiful, tiny birds could detect the odour of poisonous gas long before a human. If the birds became ill, or died, the miners knew they needed to evacuate immediately. The practice ended in 1986 but the concept lives on. And I have thought often about the canaries in my life; the little things that start to fall apart giving me a clear signal that something is wrong.

My canaries might be impulses to overeat, binge watching of television, avoidance of tasks, negative self-judgement, decrease in self-care, etc. It used to take me days and weeks to notice these signals. With my new habits of paying attention I am much quicker at recognizing the change in behaviour. And that really matters because I want to live with honesty and kindness towards myself and others.

What canaries in your life are showing up to draw attention to a thought pattern or behaviour that isn’t aligned with your values? Make a commitment over the coming weeks to watch for the signs that you are not living in integrity.


  1. Procrastination: the task is “too big”, “too hard”, will bear imperfect results, etc.

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