Category Archives: Happiness

3 Key Reasons Your Wellness Program is Sick

Symptom vs SourceDoes your organization have a wellness program? I’ll bet you do – in some form or another. Most organizations do – or at least they say they do.

Chances are good that your wellness program, no matter how elaborate or simple, is not delivering the outcomes you had hoped. There are 3 key reasons for that:

1) You are focusing on symptoms, not sources.

Your wellness program very likely includes something on smoking cessation, on obesity management, on encouraging more physical activity, or on managing stress in the workforce. And, while those are all great initiatives, do they really get at the source of the issue? Why are people obese? Why is stress so high? Why are people missing work?

Could it be because our organizations are designed (unintentionally, of course) to make people sick? Could it be because we are forgetting how to be truly ‘human’ at work?

I think the answers to these questions will begin to reveal what needs to happen in order to create truly ‘well’ – happy and healthy (and productive and profitable) – workplaces.

2) You have not asked – really asked – your team what will make a difference for them

Often, organizations rely on survey data – collected in aggregate – to determine what should be included in their wellness program. That’s the best case scenario. More often, we simply take the easy way out and purchase or copy a program that is being done elsewhere.

Instead, why not ACTUALLY TALK TO PEOPLE. They’ll not only help you understand what’s truly at the source of disengagement, stress, obesity, etc., but they will also be able to collectively determine how to address those sources. The time has come to move away from hierarchical decision making about how to create healthy workplaces, and to move toward collaborative models in which the entire organization takes part in creating it’s reality.

3) You are looking for the elusive quick fix

You’re busy. Absenteeism, disengagement, and turnover are taking your time and attention away from really important aspects of your work. You want the quick fix, ‘the magic pill’, to make it all go away so that you can get back to the things that are important to you and your organization.

Well, I don’t have to tell you what you already know: the quick fix doesn’t stick. Having said that, you might be surprised at just how simple the answer can be to the very complicated issue of wellness – at work and in life!

Check out this TEDx talk by Dr. Lissa Rankin titled ‘The Shocking Truth About Your Health’. What do you think? 

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!

How To Be A Hero

Gilles M. with Member of Parliament Joy Smith

Gilles M. with Member of Parliament Joy Smith

Have you ever met a hero? I have.

A hero is a person who demonstrates noble qualities like generosity, courage and kindness. Each of these words fit the hero I just met. His name is Gilles M. (due to the nature of his work, we cannot publish his surname) and he has inspired this blog post, as well as getting me thinking about how to be a hero in my own life.

Gilles introduced himself to me after participating in a program I delivered on The Neuroscience of Leadership. “I work as a Corrections Officer for young offenders” he said. “I think your message would really help the young people I work with. I wondered if you would you be interested in coming to speak to them some time?”

I told him I would certainly be interested in speaking with him further about this opportunity. He gave me his card and said he’d be in touch.

Two months later, my phone rang and it was Gilles. He told me a bit more about his role as a Juvenile Counselor and Corrections Officer, “working closely with the program and chaplaincy departments, I am responsible for the safety, security and case management of residents in care.”

We talked about the facility and about the young people Gilles interacts with every day. “They range in age from 12-18 years, both boys and girls” he said. This really struck me, as I have a 19 year old daughter and a 16 year old son at home. The thought of them being incarcerated was unimaginable to me.

“They have seen a lot in their young lives”, he continued. “They have experienced more than most adults will ever experience – suicides, homicides, sexual and physical assault.” He told me that he watched my TEDx talk, in which I share a personal story about suicide. “Not to minimize your story, Deri, but some of these kids have been touched by suicide multiple times.” I knew this would be an audience like no other for me. I also knew that my role was not to tell them that I could relate to their life; only that I might have something to share that could help them.

We arranged for a tour of the facility (in fact, we had two…Gilles is very thorough!) and then set a date for my presentation. The title we selected was: The Power of Positive: How Your Perspective Impacts Your Results. The goal was to leave these young people with a message that a positive brain is a resilient one, that perspective is a choice, and that they could assume more control over their results by adjusting their thoughts and behaviors.

As I met with Gilles to prepare for the presentation, I was struck by the way he talked about the youth in his care. It was not just the words he chose as he shared stories with me, it was the way in which he looked, and the tone of his voice, that really resonated with me. As he toured me around the facility, I could see how much people thought of him. Staff and residents alike readily smiled and greeted Gilles with the warmth of a friend.

I quickly learned that Gilles brought in an array of professionals to inspire, teach, and coach the residents. Speakers, comedians, musicians, and even the first ever Amazing Race Canada winner, Tim Hague have all visited the Youth Centre. (And Gilles achieves all of that, with no budget!) I asked him if this ‘program’ was a formal part of his job. Here is how he responded: “It is not usual or expected, but it is something that is in my heart to do.”

That seems to be the key to being a hero…you do something unusual and unexpected that is in your heart to do. Gilles looks beyond the surface of his job expectations – “the safety, security and case management of residents in care” – to his deeper purpose as a Corrections Officer and as a human being: “Working with these at-risk-youth, you quickly realize that the stories in the newspapers are just a tiny part of the real story. I’ve met a lot of great people over the years that have overcome overwhelming odds, and gone on to lead successful, happy lives. I have personally experienced blessings and changes in my own life as well, so I know that it is possible for all of us.”

When I asked Gilles how he’d like to impact the young people he works with every day, he replied, “I’d like to introduce them to new ways to see themselves, to help them make better decisions, and to encourage them to choose healthier ways to view the world, and their future.”

He continued: “It may seem futile to some, but not to me. We can all remember the hurtful – or helpful – words and actions of others in our past that have shaped our present mind-sets: good or bad. You never really know what word or action will impact which individual, but I’d like to counter-act the negative expectations they may have accepted about themselves. If they assume that this is all life has to offer them; if they have no hope of things ever getting any better, then why would they want to make the effort to live better? If I can show them enough ‘success stories’, if they can just catch a glimmer of hope, then they might start considering the possibilities of a better life. I’ve seen it work too often not to try with these young lives.”

Gilles is one of the most humble people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, as evidenced by his comment to me when I complimented him on his programming accomplishments; “It seems I can’t keep from getting involved with something. My wife is very tolerant and patient with me. I always have plans either in the developmental or implementation stages at work, and out in the community. I continually meet new people that are willing to step up to the plate for these youth. I take no credit. While I do set goals and have aspirations, I’m really just along for the ride and waiting to see what’s around the corner next. I believe that when the time is right, the right people will present themselves and good things will happen.”

Well, Gilles is definitely the right person in the right place, and he makes good things happen. He is definitely doing more than going ‘along for the ride’, and I hope he takes the credit he is due. Meeting him has encouraged me to continue to acknowledge the heroes that I meet along the way. How about you? I’d love to hear those stories here.

And, think about this: What can you do – at work or at home – that is unusual, unexpected and “in your heart” to do? What can you do to be a hero in your life?

Love IS a Drug!!

The Look of Love!

The Look of Love!

It’s the month of love…Valentine’s Day on the 14th marks the half-way point in the shortest month of the year.  Spring is around the corner, and moods seem to be lifting (especially for those of us who have lived through a bit of a deep freeze this winter).

I am thoroughly enjoying a brain seminar series hosted by Ruth Buczynski, PhD, and have learned a ton from eminent speakers including Rick Hanson and Daniel Goleman so far.  This week, it’s Bruce Lipton who will be sharing some of his research on how emotions (thoughts, perceptions) influence our genes.

Since we are well into this month of love, I thought Dr. Lipton’s research would be particularly interesting to share now.  It helps to uncover why we look happier and healthier when we are in love. You have surely noticed that sparkle in your friend’s eye, or that blushing, glowing face staring back at you when love is present.  That happier, healthier ‘glow’ has to do with the chemicals that are released in your brain when you are experiencing a loving feeling.

Perceiving/noticing/thinking about someone you love releases chemicals in your brain that match your perception of that person.  Love releases chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and even growth hormone into your blood. When these chemicals are released and interact with your cells, your cells grow…in fact, they flourish. That is why, Dr. Lipton explains, people in love look so sparkly and happy.  That lovely chemical reaction in their brain is filling and feeding healthy cell growth.  It is creating life!

Likewise, Dr. Lipton notes, stress and sadness can actually keep your cells from growing properly. When you are experiencing stress or fear, dopamine, oxytocin and growth hormone are replaced by cortisol being released into your blood. Cortisol not only causes cells to stop growing, it causes them to die. Cortisol kills.

So the same person can experience two different results (chemically and biologically) simply from two different perceptions. A simple thought, then, can be a matter of life and death!  So it follows, according to Dr. Lipton, life is controlled by our thoughts, not our genes.

Love IS a drug – and it’s the kind of drug that creates life.  Your thoughts, your perceptions create your experience of a happy, healthy life.

Stress is also a drug – and that’s the kind of drug that takes life.  ”Lifestyle – and responses to life – are responsible for the vast majority of illness on this planet.” says Dr. Lipton.

In my seminars, I encourage people to “Do ‘Dope’ and Avoid ‘Cort’”. Dopamine and Cortisol both change your brain chemistry – one for better, and the other for worse.  Lipton describes what happens in your brain – and your body – when you are experiencing love.  It changes your brain and your cells. It also changes what’s written all over your face (which, by the way, attracts or repels the presence of more love in your life!).

So, during this month of February, focus on LOVE:

Look for love (anything that makes you smile all over…your spouse, your kids, your dog, your new love interest…)

Opt for positive thoughts (focus on what’s good, spend time contemplating what is working versus what is not, choose to think positively about yourself and others)

Veer away from negative emotion (reframe/reappraise negative experiences to create more positive emotion)

Engage in changing your brain (take action to change your brain to work FOR you, rather than falling victim to it working AGAINST you)!

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!

 

 

Five Tips to Warm Up To Winter

Off to School on a Beautiful Winter Morning

Off to School on a Beautiful Winter Morning

Baby, it’s cold outside! That seems to be a recurring theme across North America these days.  If it’s true for you, try these 5 Tips to Warm Up to Winter

Tip # 1: Give It a Break

The ‘it’ to which I refer is….yourself!  Leave your desk or workstation (preferably your smart phone, too) and take your breaks – morning, noon and afternoon. Even if you can’t get away for your full break, take 10 minutes to leave your desk or normal work area and eat your lunch/snack somewhere else. It will give your body a chance to nourish itself and your mind the opportunity to slow down without work related distractions. Practice being fully present while you are AWAY from your work area.

Tip # 2: Choose Positive

Focus on what you are looking forward to every day (not what you are dreading, not that your car might not start at the end of the day, not that you are dreading the slow ride home, etc.). Throughout the day (during breaks is a great time), ask yourself ‘what went well so far today?’.  Then, pause and enjoy the experience.  Write down what you appreciate about your leader, co-workers, your clients/customers.  End each day by writing down three things for which you are grateful for that day.

Tip # 3: Smile : )

Do it, right now! Don’t you feel better already? Now, smile at your co-workers as you pass them in the hallway, as you greet them at meetings or wherever you get the chance.  Check out Ron Gutman’s TED Talk   on the hidden power of smiling.  In that talk, Gutman, the founder and CEO of HealthTap reviews a number of studies that reveal how smiling has a measurable effect on your overall well-being, and can be a predictor of how long you’ll live. If that’s not reason enough to smile, remember that it is a contagious behavior…so your smile impacts the well-being and longevity of everyone around you!

Tip # 4: Give Yourself Permission to ‘Hang’

You are constantly on the go.  There is always something to do, or somewhere you either need to be, or think you should be.  Use a cold day as an ‘excuse’ to do something you rarely take time to do: read that good book you’ve been meaning to get to, order take out, stoke up the fire and have a movie marathon with the people you care about.

Tip #5: Remind Yourself That ‘This Too Shall Pass’

I was at a funeral last week, and a young lady read ‘For Everything There Is A Season’. I’m embarrassed to admit that I did not know that these words originated in the Bible.  I remember these words mostly from the song, performed first by Pete Seeger in 1952 and later by the Byrds.  These words carry great comfort, I believe, and remind us all that there is indeed a time for everything (even -45C or F!!).

Here are the words from Ecclesiastes III:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

And, here are the words set to music by the Byrds. Enjoy!

What do you do to warm up to winter?

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!

 

Let’s do the Time Warp Again

TimeFlies1

Remember that song from Rocky Horror Picture Show…Let’s Do the Time Warp Again?  Some of the lyrics suggest that ‘it’s astounding’, ‘time is fleeting’, and I have to say that is certainly true for me as I get older. Do you feel the same way? A post by Maria Popova titled ‘Why Time Slows Down When We are Afraid, Speeds Up as We Age, and Gets Warped on Vacation’ caught my attention – especially at this time of year when many of us have been on some form of vacation over the holidays.

In the post, Maria reviews acclaimed BBC broadcaster and psychology writer Claudia Hammond’s book Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception.  This quote in particular caught my attention:

“We construct the experience of time in our minds, so it follows that we are able to change the elements we find troubling — whether it’s trying to stop the years racing past, or speeding up time when we’re stuck in a queue, trying to live more in the present, or working out how long ago we last saw our old friends.”

Time really does slow down when we are in fear.  If you have ever experienced an automobile accident, you know that it seems to happen in slow motion.  Well, Hammond says it is indeed a cognitive reality that time slows down on those fear-filled occasions.  In this post in Discover Magazine, Don Foley and Steven Johnson demonstrate how recent research shows that when something bad happens to you, part of your brain begins thinking independently, storing its own memories so it can save/protect you the next time.

And, time really does speed up as we age.  Part of the reason time seems to go slower when we are younger, is because of the amount of ‘novelty’ present in our lives.  Think about your late teens and early 20′s, and all of the ‘firsts’ you experienced at that time: your first job, your first love, your first move away from home.

Finally, there is some warping that happens when we are on vacation too.  Popova writes ‘… one of the most enchanting instances of time-warping is what Hammond calls the Holiday Paradox — “the contradictory feeling that a good holiday whizzes by, yet feels long when you look back.” (An “American translation” might term it the Vacation Paradox.) Her explanation of its underlying mechanisms is reminiscent of legendary psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s theory of the clash between the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self”.

So what can we all do to mess with time in a meaningful way?  Consider these warping strategies:

Do Something that Scares You: You do not need to risk your life to experience the rush of adrenalin that you get when you are in real fear. You can simply do something that for you – is a bit of a risk. What conversation do you need to have, that you have been avoiding? Have it.  What story could you tell your team that shows your vulnerability? Share it. What’s been on your ‘bucket list’ that you could make a reality in 2014?  Jump in.

Create Lots of Firsts: Decide, as you set goals for the New Year, to add novelty into your life. Do something for the first time. It might be something simple like arriving at work following a different route, changing your home routine, or going ‘commando‘ for a day. Or, it could be something bigger like taking your spouse out to the newest night club in town (which opens way past your bedtime of 9:30 p.m.), participating in a company social event for the first time, or entering a sporting event featuring a sport you have never tried.  Do it.

Be in the Moment: Be where you are.  Just be.  Practice letting everything else go and be present in your life.  Try something new (even if it scares you) and truly experience it in its fullness.  Perhaps you need to tell someone in your life just how much you appreciate them.  You might feel vulnerable, and it might be a first for you. You can mess with time even more fully when you anticipate it, fully experience it, and then reminisce about it at the end of the day. Make every day a vacation. Be there.

Are you ready to do the time warp again?  It’s a jump to the left and then a step to the right…

I wish you a hopeful, happy, and healthy 2014!

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!