Category Archives: Happiness

Three Ways to Reset your Brain for Resilience

Never too little, never too late!

Never too little, never too late!

There is a lot of information available on healthy ageing; and much of that writing includes strategies for a healthy brain, like this article by Michele Rosenthal titled 7 Ways to Exercise Your Brain – and Why You Really Need To!

When I spoke at a Senior’s Wellness Day recently, I was reminded about how important it is for all of us – at any age – to practice strategies that help keep our thinking flexible and ‘buoyant’ during every phase of our lives.

Three strategies that are particularly useful are 1) ReACT, 2) Reframe, and 3) ReAlign.

1) ReACT: Stuff will happen. No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, your life will be filled with surprises – many happy ones and some that you’d rather avoid. When one of the latter happens in your life, instead of reacting impulsively (and often negatively) try this strategy to ReACT:

A – Accept your current reality. Say, out loud or to yourself, ‘I accept (whatever it is that is negative).’ For example, you might say ‘I accept that my friend is showing signs of dementia.’

C – Choose a vision of what you’d like in this situation. When you decide what you want, your brain automatically moves into a more positive state. In the example above, you might say ‘I choose to be a positive influence on my friend, and to enjoy spending time with her as much as I can.’

T – Take action to move toward your vision. When you are moving toward your vision (what you want), you are not gripped (and limited) by moving away from what you don’t want (the negative situation). In this example, you might do the following: ‘I will become informed about dementia so I can be a helpful resource for my friend.’ ‘I will visit my friend when I am well rested and am feeling good.’ ‘I will take my friend out for a walk or to enjoy a coffee at our favourite spot at least once a week.’

2) Reframe. Thoughts are just thoughts. They are not facts. When you experience a negative emotion, the internal dialogue you are having is generally negative and self-limiting. A reframe is a way of changing that narrative (thoughts) so that you can make the best choice possible in that situation.

Let’s say a store clerk does not respond when you say ‘Thank you’ after making your purchase. Your might feel angry, and your internal dialogue might be something like ‘These young people today have no manners! They don’t care about giving great service, particularly when it is to an older person! They have no respect!’

You could choose to reframe these thoughts. Your reframe might be, ‘She must not have heard me say “thank you”.’; or ‘He is likely distracted with something important right now.’; or ‘She might not have been trained how to interact with customers.’ Any of these reframes will result in a slight shift in YOUR emotional experience. You might still like to have a ‘You’re Welcome’ when you say ‘Thank You’ but you will not be focused, negatively, on a story about the clerk that serves neither you nor anyone who might run into you the rest of that day!

You might even decide to provide some feedback to the clerk – to let him know that a ‘You’re Welcome’ would be most welcome to you! If you do decide to do that – and you choose a softer reframe – you’ll be in a much more resourceful state when you provide that feedback. After all, remind yourself that the story you are telling yourself is just a story…so why not choose a story that helps you to be more positive and more effective in your interactions.

And, let’s face it, you truly have no idea what might be going on for that clerk at that time and on that day. Your softened reframe, and helpful approach, might be just what that clerk needs in what might be an otherwise lousy day.

3) ReAlign. When you experience a challenging situation, choose a body exercise to help you realign your energy.

One of my favourites is called ‘Skiing’. It is a wonderful body exercise to use when you find yourself feeling agitated and angry.

Stand feet apart, knees bent.  As if you are skiing, bring your hands up and then down, allowing a ‘swoosh’ sound to come out of your mouth as you breathe out.  Repeat 5-8 times or until you have released some of the angry energy.  Notice your capacity to care, once the energy is released.

I also like ‘Hands over Eyes’, a great exercise to use when you are feeling overwhelmed with ruminating thoughts.

Rub your hands together rapidly until they are warm. Place a hand over each eye. Notice how the soothing heat from your hands calms the state of your mind.

My last book is filled with thinking strategies and body exercises. I am most happy to provide you with a free copy of WakeUpToYourHabits_ebook here. It includes 52 body exercises that can help you to shift out of negative emotion and into positive emotion. Try out the exercises and choose the ones that work for you.

I’d love to hear what works for you. Leave a comment here or email me at deri@derilatimer.com.

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, at home and at any age! www.derilatimer.com

 

How’s Your ‘Thumbnail’?

TEDx for BLOGI just finished shooting a quick video message for a client. If you have ever had this experience, you know that once you are finished and ready to post the video on YouTube, you are offered a selection of ‘thumbnails’ from which to choose. A thumbnail  is internet slang for a small freeze frame (picture) from your video.

I am always amazed how the thumbnail options from which I have to choose are almost inevitably ones that are less than flattering. My mouth is wide open, my eyes are closed, or I have an expression on my face that would frighten small children!

Then I started thinking about this a bit more deeply. The only reason those thumbnail options are offered to me is BECAUSE THAT IS EXACTLY HOW I LOOK WHEN I AM SPEAKING!

I’ve always been animated – especially when I am speaking on a topic that excites me. Some might argue that this animation is an asset in my profession as a speaker.  But what about in my life in general? How’s my thumbnail in everyday life, I wonder.

I caught my reflection in a window the other day. I had a ‘concerned’ look on my face. I had, indeed, been thinking of something important in my life – something serious – and it was literally ‘written all over my face’. I wonder what people who saw that expression thought of me. Might they be drawing conclusions about my friendliness and my approachability?

How about you? How’s your thumbnail, right now? Is it a picture of approachability? Is it a message of openness? Is it one that inspires confidence from your manager? Is it a thumbnail that engages trust? Is it a face that the people you care about hope to see?

I remember hearing Maya Angelou being interviewed a few years ago. My children were ‘tweens‘ at the time. She said something that really resonated with me. ‘Do your eyes light up when your child walks into the room?’ I had to take a real, hard look at myself as a parent when I heard that. I think – often – I was so focused on what needed to be done, that I forgot to pause and just appreciate them walking in the door (so that my eyes could light up with gratitude before I started barking orders about what needed to be done).

I also thought about whether or not my eyes light up when I see my husband, when I get together with my girlfriends, and when I meet with a client. I hope they do.

I am certainly not suggesting that you have to walk around all day every day with a huge smile plastered on your face, just so people don’t think you are cranky. I am suggesting, however, that you increase your awareness of what’s written all over your face. What would your face communicate if it were suddenly freeze-framed?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment here. Even better, send a photo to deri@derilatimer.com, post it on Facebook or Linkedin (tag me at Deri Latimer - and connect with me, if we are not already connected), or post it on Twitter with #mythumbnail and tag me @derilatimer.

A TEDx speaker and organizational consultant in all things people, Deri Latimer provides inspiration and information to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!

 

 

Are You Ready for ReWIREment?

FiredUp_MiddleAger1Yes, you read that correctly! Rewirement. What a cool word. And it’s potentially the newest description for that ‘next’ phase of life that many of us find ourselves talking and thinking about more often these days.

I loved it when I first heard it – from a colleague of mine as we shared a coffee last week. Rewirement. What does that word communicate to you?

To me, rewiring is all about continually moving toward creating the kind of life you want to live. It is about choosing thoughts that help you to experience your life to it’s fullest. (Of course, Rewirement can happen at any phase of life, not just when you are contemplating leaving the workforce.)

What thoughts can serve you well as you look ahead to the next phase of your life? Here are a few ideas to consider:

Thoughts about Yourself:

  • I learn something new every day
  • I like where I am in my life right now
  • I can continue to contribute meaningfully to this world

Thoughts about Others:

  • My family and friends value me as much as I value them
  • Every person is doing the best they can in the present moment
  • I enjoy learning something new from the people I connect with each and every day

Thoughts about Ageing:

  • People can feel energized and engaged in life at any age
  • We really are getting older AND getting better
  • The lines on one’s face and body mark memories of the great life they have lived

Thoughts about Retirement:

  • This is an exciting time in life
  • It is possible to continue to be engaged in things that bring joy
  • Retiring is not an ‘ending’, it is a new beginning

Rewirement is also about choosing behaviours that maximize your happiness and general well-being. Certainly choosing positive thoughts will help you to choose positive behaviours, but you can do this in the reverse order as well – choose positive behaviours and notice how your thinking (and feeling) changes.

For example, I just started 100 Happy Days (http://100happydays.com/) – an online platform to focus on happiness. Each day, for 100 days, you submit a photo to a social media platform of your choice (instagram, twitter, facebook, etc.) and use the hashtag #100happydays. Then, notice what happens. Just like the power of a gratitude journal, taking a picture and posting it online is an easy way to keep being mindful about what brings you happiness each day (and remind you that there are a lot of things that bring you happiness every day – you just need to focus on them). It’s really that simple. I’ve already noticed an upswing, and I am only on day #2!

So, what will you choose to think and to do today – to get ready for Rewirement?

 

 

 

 

7 Strategies for a More Respectful World

Man&WomanMeeting1Aretha Franklin sang about it (R.E.S.P.E.C.T.), Rodney Dangerfield quipped about it (“I don’t get no respect!”), and just about every workplace has a policy related to it (Respectful Workplace). It’s perhaps even a regular topic of conversation around your kitchen table.

I am thinking about the topic a lot these days, largely fuelled by the media coverage regarding Jian Ghomeshi and the allegations surrounding the former CBC Radio Host. Jian is innocent until proven guilty, and as a wife, mother, sister and friend of many lovely men, I believe he deserves – as much as the rest of us do – that we withhold judgement until all the facts are out in the open. No matter what the end result of this situation, something went wrong; someone did not communicate properly; someone was hurt because they got something different that what they expected; someone did not respect someone else.

So, what, then, is respect? Dictionary.com defines respect as: “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person…; proper acceptance or courtesy…”

Wikipedia defines respect in this way: “a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., “I have great respect for her judgment”).
In the many workshops I have delivered on the topic over 20 years, I consistently hear that respect means “being seen, heard and valued”.
Often, when we think of respect – we think about how we feel; “I do not feel respected in this meeting.”  Yet, the feeling that comes with being respected or not, relates to how we interpret what we are noticing in other people’s behavior. The person says or does something, we add meaning to that behavior based on our past experiences, and then we feel the emotion connected to that behavior and our interpretation of it. Respect is therefore more a description of what we notice in one another’s behavior, and what meaning we add to that behavior.
So, can one person find a certain behavior respectful, while another person finds the same behavior disrespectful? Absolutely! That is why we cannot get around the need for open, honest, accepting communication. Respect is about understanding.
No matter what, when respect is present, we feel good. When respect is absent, we don’t.
I thought it might be a nice refresher for us all – at work, outside of work, in all of our relationships – to remind ourselves about how to show respect to everyone we meet.
You will show R.E.S.P.E.C.T. when you:
R – Receive information from the world around you. Open your eyes, ears and heart to others. Truly, intentionally, attend to what’s going on around you – including what others are doing and saying.
E – Express your wishes, interests, needs, and inquiries simply and articulately. “I’d like to work with you on the project.” “May I kiss you?”
S – Share important information. Rather than assuming the other person knows exactly what you are asking or saying, be sure to give them enough information in order for them to understand.
P – Practice mindful listening. Pause (that means stop talking), focus entirely on the other person (their words and their non-verbals), breathe, pause.
E – Establish boundaries. Inquire, paraphrase and empathize with the other person. Then discuss your mutually agreed upon boundaries for this part of your relationship.
C – Create a ritual of checking in. Lasting relationships are those that provide consideration for the rights and responsibilities of each person, and clearly outline a way of relating that is comfortable and meaningful to everyone involved. Check in regularly and assess how you are doing.
T – Tell a friend. There is no question that you learn best that which you teach to others. Share the respect-generating tips from here – and others you learn along the way – with people in your life. Social learning is the best kind of learning – and, of course, people will learn most from you by watching what you do (not just listening to what you say).
To quote the beautiful Ms. Franklin….R.E.S.P.E.C.T.; find out what it means to me…
Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! She is one of fewer than 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), the international measure of excellence for professional competence, proven experience, and optimal client satisfaction. Deri combines a business degree in human resources management with 20 years of experience engaging audiences across every business sector. Deri provides inspiration and information to create psychologically healthy organizations for increased positivity, productivity, and profitability!

 

Why It’s Best to Hold Hands and Stick Together

HandYou all remember the poem by Robert Fulghum “All I Really Need To Know I learned In Kindergarten”. Here is a little reminder:

“All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”

There is so much I love about this wisdom. I truly think it can be a guide for global leadership.

Today, I am focusing on one part: “Hold Hands and Stick Together”. A post on PsyBlog by Dr. Jeremy Dean titled “Neuroscience Reveals The Deep Power of Human Empathy” caught my attention. I have studied Empathy for years, and it makes a consistent appearance in my keynotes, workshops and consulting practice. In the study Dr. Dean cites, participants who held hands with a friend who was receiving a shock registered the same brain activity as the friend who actually received the shock. Interestingly, that was not the case when the participants held the hand of a stranger.

It is well established that we perform better when we view each other as “friend” versus “foe”. Check out David Rock’s SCARF Model and read about how our brains perform differently when we are in avoidance (threat, negative) mode, versus when we are in approach (reward, positive) mode. Decision Neuroscience Lab‘s publication “Friend or foe: The effect of implicit trustworthiness judgments in social decision-making” similarly shows that seeing each other as friend versus enemy affects how we make decision, and the quality of the decisions we make.

If we are interested in creating workplaces, homes and schools in which people can perform at their best, then we need to create environments that foster trust and friendship.

Some might argue that is exactly what we attempt to do by creating ice-breaker exercises, facilitating networking events, and planning activities to bring people together around common interests. All of those are wonderful and go directly toward facilitating friendly interactions.

I wonder what else we can do. Every day. All day. Rather than only staging and participating in ‘activities’ per se, how about starting each day with the intention, the belief that everyone you meet at work or school is your friend. That they are with you rather than against you, that they want to cooperate with you rather than compete with you, that they are worthy of your trust and you are worthy of theirs.

What difference might that make to the lives of us all. It will certainly make all of those ‘activities’ we partake in at meetings and conferences go alot more smoothly (yes, I have seen those eye rolls – and I think I have rolled mine a time or two also – when an activity is being introduced). I think it will also make every moment of every day just a little bit better for us all! Let’s be friends, hold hands, and stick together.

What do you think? Are you with me?

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! She is one of fewer than 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), the international measure of excellence for professional competence, proven experience, and optimal client satisfaction. Deri combines a business degree in human resources management with 20 years of experience engaging audiences across every business sector. Deri provides inspiration and information to create psychologically healthy organizations for increased positivity, productivity, and profitability!