Category Archives: Happiness

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!

 

Why Being Distracted Impacts Results in School, at Work, and on Vacation

Second waterfront pic April 2014It’s August. While many parents are getting ready for The Most Wonderful Time of the Year when kids head back to school, many kids are happy just being ‘distracted’ from the topic of school! I mean, isn’t that what summer vacation is all about – distraction!

Well, perhaps.

However, the topic of distraction – or lack of presence – is an important one for any time of year.

I read this post from SmartBlog on Education titled ‘Digital Distraction in the Modern Classroom‘ and it caused me to ‘pause’ on this topic.

I’ve had an ongoing dialogue with my children about how all of the research on the brain shows that MULTI-TASKING DOES NOT WORK! Multi-tasking results in ‘continuous partial attention’; we partially attend to many things, and are not fully attending to anything. Our performance drops and so does our energy.

My son, now heading in to grade 12, regularly told me about how often he used his cell phone as a part of his in-class learning in grade 11. While I agree with Paul Barnwell, that ‘smartphones can be powerful tools for learning’, I also cannot help but notice how ‘distracted’ my son can be when he is in the vicinity of his cell phone. Barnwell, it appears, experienced the same phenomena in his class. The kids are not just doing research in class. They have mutliple tabs open and they are checking email, texting, tweeting, facebooking, instagraming, tumblering, snapchatting, gaming….

And then I started thinking about what I hear people saying about their workplaces. Just like classrooms, I wonder what we are missing because we are continuously engaged with technology (interestingly enough, in an attempt not to ‘miss’ anything!!)

Even on vacation, I know that well over 50% of people report that they check their phones to try to stay ‘up to date’ on what is happening in the office, and to ensure they are managing their increasing workload as well as possible.

But, I wonder, at what cost?

So, for the rest of your vacation, put your technology away for at least one day a week. If you are at work, limit checking your email/phone to a specific time period each day (a great habit to develop, and advertise to people in your network. For example you could set your out of office message to read ‘I answer email messages from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. each day. If this is an emergency please call em at 123-456-7890.’). And, if you are getting ready to head back to school, practice being present while you are in class. If your teacher encourages you to use your phone to do research, then go to town! If not, turn your phone off and notice what you notice when you are right there – engaging, interacting, listening, and connecting with the people around you. You might just find that you really don’t know what you are missing.

Then, please take a minute to share your experience with the rest of us!

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!

 

The Two Most Important Questions in Life

Pens_NotePaperThe two most important questions in life are:

Who Are You and What Do You Want?

Both are positive questions and both move you TOWARD creating the life you desire.

‘Who Are You?’ helps you to instantly focus on your highest values, on those things that are most important to you, on your legacy even. What Do You Want?’ helps you to focus on the things that you want to attract, to manifest, in your life.

Here is a quick process that you can follow to begin to answer these questions:

1)      Write your eulogy. Yes, you read that correctly. Take a few minutes and write out what you’d like the important people in your life to say about you when you leave this world. How did you impact them? What do they remember most about you? What key words would you like them to use as they describe you? If that is too morbid, think about what you’d like people to say about you at your retirement party. Or, think about what you’d like people to be saying about you right now. What would you like them to be saying about you when you are not there? You might want them to describe you as caring, positive, thoughtful, warm, courageous, adventurous, smart, creative, playful, inspiring; you might want them to describe you as a leader, a teacher, a role model.

2)      Create a vision board.  Think about – and note– what you would like to attract into your life. It might be more patience with your children, more presence at work, more focus in meetings, more calm in interpersonal exchanges, better health and a greater state of fitness, more energy, more happiness overall. Cut out pictures and/or words that reflect what you’d like to attract into your life. Arrange them on a poster board or sheet of paper.

3)      Move. Decide what you will DO, in order for people to describe you in the ways in which you want to be described (1) above), and in order for you to be able to attract the kinds of things you want to attract into your life (2) above). You might decide that you will begin thinking differently about yourself and the impact you have on others (you might clean up some limiting beliefs you have about yourself, and embed some new positive beliefs); you might decide that you will meditate each day to calm yourself and focus on what is important to you; you might decide that you will start a gratitude journal and record three things each day for which you are grateful (this is the #1 happiness strategy, by the way); you might decide to smile more, to engage in conversations with others more, to take the lead to reach out to people in your life with whom you have experienced conflict.

4)       Focus. Keep your words from 1) and your vision board from 2) nearby. Look at them each day. Ask yourself questions like ‘After that conversation that I just had with my mother, would she describe me in the way that I want to be described?’ ‘As I head out the door today, what one thing can I do to be more patient with my staff?’ ‘Before I walk into my home at the end of the work day, what can I think that will help me have more connection with my family?’

Life is complex and busy. These simple questions help you to keep anchored in creating your best life – every day.

So, Who Are You and What Do You Want?

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 Self-Compassion is the Pathway to Inner (and Outer) Peace

Image from "Wake Up to Your Habits"

Image from “Wake Up to Your Habits”

A post from Elisha Goldstein got me thinking about self-compassion, and it reminded me of a course I participated in last year with Kristin Neff.

This is what Elisha shared that caught my attention:
“In all the time I’ve been practicing and teaching mindfulness as a way of life, I’ve come upon a phrase that helps give me perspective during the difficult moments of life and in the more wonderful moments.
It is what it is, while it is.
This simple phrase allows me to be grateful for the good moments and more graceful during the difficult ones. It gives me access to the essential healing agent of compassion.”
In order to be compassionate toward others:
1) you notice that they are struggling in some way
2) you are moved by their situation, and
3) you want to help them by offering understanding and kindness, rather than judging them.
When you are compassionate, you realize that imperfection, failure, and difficulty are all a part of the shared human experience. ‘They’ are no different than you.
Self-compassion means that you extend to yourself the very same things that you would extend to another person. Instead of ignoring the pain or difficulty you are experiencing, you pause and say something comforting to yourself, like ‘this is a really difficult time right now’, or ‘this is a challenging time’. Then you think about how you can care for and comfort yourself in that moment. Instead of judging or criticizing yourself, you are kind and understanding toward yourself.
You might decide that you want to do something different or to change something about yourself for moving forward; the key is that you are motivated to change because you care about yourself (not because you are somehow flawed or worthless as you are.)
Kristin Neff’s explanation of the difference between self-compassion and self-esteem truly resonated with me:
“Although self-compassion may seem similar to self-esteem, they are different in many ways.  Self-esteem refers to our sense of self-worth, perceived value, or how much we like ourselves. While there is little doubt that low self-esteem is problematic and often leads to depression and lack of motivation, trying to have higher self-esteem can also be problematic.  In modern Western culture, self-esteem is often based on how much we are different from others, how much we stand out or are special.  It is not okay to be average, we have to feel above average to feel good about ourselves.  This means that attempts to raise self-esteem may result in narcissistic, self-absorbed behavior, or lead us to put others down in order to feel better about ourselves.  We also tend to get angry and aggressive towards those who have said or done anything that potentially makes us feel bad about ourselves.  The need for high self-esteem may encourage us to ignore, distort or hide personal shortcomings so that we can’t see ourselves clearly and accurately. Finally, our self-esteem is often contingent on our latest success or failure, meaning that our self-esteem fluctuates depending on ever-changing circumstances.
In contrast to self-esteem, self-compassion is not based on self-evaluations. People feel compassion for themselves because all human beings deserve compassion and understanding, not because they possess some particular set of traits (pretty, smart, talented, and so on). This means that with self-compassion, you don’t have to feel better than others to feel good about yourself.  Self-compassion also allows for greater self-clarity, because personal failings can be acknowledged with kindness and do not need to be hidden. Moreover, self-compassion isn’t dependent on external circumstances, it’s always available – especially when you fall flat on your face!  Research indicates that in comparison to self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger.”
Neff outlines three elements of self-compassion:
Self-Kindness: being warm and understanding to ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring the pain or engaging in self-criticism.
Common Humanity: recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is something that we all go through, we are not alone in making mistakes, or experiencing suffering.
Mindfulness: observing our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, rather than trying to suppress or deny them.
Recently, I attended a sporting event. The players were teenagers. One team (the ‘winning’ team) laughed at, teased and mocked the other team throughout the entire game. The winning team was clearly superior in their skill level and certainly, they have every right to celebrate their success. They were not celebrating, however. They were comparing, demeaning, and ‘rubbing it in’ to the other team. We spectators could easily see how the lack of compassion started to affect the ‘losing’ team, who started out motivated and excited to play the game, but started to lose energy as the game went on (and the laughing and insulting continued). One of the players from the ‘losing team’ commented ‘wow, that team’s parents sure didn’t teach them about manners’.
While one might argue that sports are all about winning and losing, and kids have to learn to ‘suck it up’ and lose gracefully, I wonder what kind of world we might have if we all entered the field (the board room, the classroom) and saw each other with a sense of common humanity. This, to me, is a clear example of the difference between self-esteem and self-compassion. I think we can celebrate our wins without having to demean and put-down those who lose. Because, realistically, in one way or another, at some point in time sooner or later, we will all find ourselves on that other side.
What do you think?

 

 

Six Reasons to do your Mental Spring Cleaning

2013 Collage 3It’s Spring! Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, the sun is shining and faces are smiling. There is nothing quite like it!

Spring is often the time of year when you engage in some Spring Cleaning; getting rid of what’s been stored over the winter that you doubt you will ever use again, cleaning the yard and around your home ridding yourself of the debris that has built up over the winter, and creating more order in your cupboards and closets.

What about your mental debris? You know, those limiting beliefs, those skewed expectations, that internal dialogue – that story – that is just not serving you any longer. What do you do with that? Most of us simply let it sit; like the filters in our furnace, these mental filters stay filled with dusty debris – much of which we no longer have use. Yet those beliefs, expectations, and thoughts influence every aspect of your life. They influence not just how you interpret what you experience, but they influence what you notice (and what you don’t).

In the spirit of Spring and of cleaning, here are six reasons for more mental hygiene (the acronym is HEALTH):

Holism: Every part of you is connected to every other part of you. Your body, your cells are listening to your thoughts. Think about the message you’d like the rest of you to receive. Send that one.

Energy: Constructive, positive thoughts create energy. If you want more energy (and I cannot say I have met anyone who said they didn’t), you need to ensure you nourish your brain and your bloodstream with chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin…natural, effective, healthy ‘dope’ for your brain!

Assurance: The only way to be sure (as sure as you possibly can) you will be mentally healthy/psychologically well is to take preventative, deliberate steps to be mindful of your mind (thoughts). When I first engaged with mindful meditation, I was surprised at some of the thoughts I had that were holding me back from fully experiencing my life.

Life: Your very life depends on your psychological health. Without a healthy brain – one that serves you – your very life is at stake. (Not to be overly dramatic — but, really, think about it!!)

Trust: Cleaning out the debris in your brain – the negative thoughts, the limiting beliefs, the unrealistic expectations, the life-sucking story – will inspire trust in yourself and others’ trust in you. You’ll be the kind of person other people want to be around. And that increase in social connection with nourish your brain, which relies on it!

Check out this super-cool video by Matthew Lieberman on the social brain.

Harmony: In a world filled with epic disasters (planes disappearing, ferries sinking, extreme weather destroying homes and lives) and stories of people losing control of their psychological well-being (murder- suicides, workplace shootings, violent rampages) Mental Spring Cleaning will help you to add some peace, some harmony to the world. That’s something that will surely benefit us all.

What’s your favourite mental hygiene habit?

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!