Tag Archives: Happiness

Back to School 101

Jasmine Zyzniewski

Jasmine Zyzniewski

(Today’s Blog Post features Jasmine Zyzniewski {see her bio below}, who is working with me as an intern as part of her practicum at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba.)

September is always an exciting month for university students. Summer is winding to a close and the motivation to start learning finally kicks back into high gear. We go and buy all of our textbooks, find that one squeaky chair in the classroom that nobody likes and sit down in front of the teacher with eager minds and creative thoughts. The course outline is then distributed for all of our classes and all of a sudden “WHAM!” university just doesn’t seem that fun any more!

The buzz of excitement around the hallways begins to dwindle and you can find us university students wandering around like zombies to get to our classes. Assignments begin to pile up, we feel like we haven’t socialized in ages and the word sleep leaves our vocabulary for months at a time. Okay, I might be exaggerating just a little, but any student can tell you that school is fun, intriguing but also very stressful. Much of your time is dedicated to studying hard and trying to raise that GPA in hopes to continue our education or find a well-paying job in the future.

As a fourth (and final) year student completing my BA in Psychology, I feel – for the first time – I finally understand how to get a good firm grip on my university work load. I have managed to come up with three tips to help first year students or those already trooping through further years to manage and actually enjoy their time at university.


It’s easy to get motivated come September. Everything is new and exciting for everyone. But what about October and November when those school commitments are screaming at you from every angle? I have found that when I keep my motivation up throughout the entire semester I am less likely to procrastinate on my work load. Motivation is different for everyone. Whether it be finding an inspirational quote to get your creative juices flowing, allowing yourself a piece of candy for every page your write in an essay or creating a collage of all your dreams for the future, motivation is key to getting you to classes and actually wanting to finish those 3000 pages of reading due for tomorrow.


Due dates begin to pile up come October and especially November. The further along you get into your university semester, the harder and more time consuming the assignments become. I’m sure all of us university students out there have had the experience of lying down in bed and remembering that essay that is due at 9:00 tomorrow morning. We fly out of bed, make ourselves plenty of coffee and prepare for our third all-nighter to get that assignment finished. Agendas are like paper gold to me. At the beginning of a semester, I write down all the due dates for every course that I have. This ensures that I stay on top of these dates and allows me the opportunity to get ahead of them! Knowing which assignments are coming up and giving yourself ample time to complete them will reduce stress and increase grades, guaranteed! Our inner spell-check doesn’t work too well at 4:00 a.m.! So avoid those nightmares about school and get organized!


As much as school can overwhelm our schedule, too much study time can send students into a downward spiral. There comes a time where we have to put our books and laptops away, stop writing that major essay and just let loose! We need breaks from our school commitments to relax, rejuvenate and relaunch. So what does capital F.U.N. mean to you? For some it can be a night of dancing with friends, a Sunday dinner with the family or a relaxing evening with popcorn and a Netflix binge. For others it could be an exciting football game, curling up with a good book or just sleeping an afternoon away! Taking a break from responsibility and giving our brains the opportunity to go into shut down mode for a short period of time has always helped me to come back to my school assignments with a fresh set of eyes and a clear focused mind. Take the opportunity to have some fun and let’s help society avoid that zombie plague that everyone has been raving about. University students will be the first to turn!

You can do it university students! Get motivated, get organized and get loose! We have two more months to go until Christmas break, let’s get this semester rolling and off to a good start!

Jasmine Zyzniewski is a fourth and final year student completing her BA in Psychology with a minor in Peace and Conflict Transformation studies. She aims to normalize and contribute to mental health awareness through optimistic and positive reflections on herself and her surroundings. Alongside her studies, she loves DIY crafts, spending time with family and any good book she can get her hands on.

The Gift of a Rainy Day

A Rainy Day Hangout

A Rainy Day Hangout

It can be a drag. You’ve been working hard all week and have been looking forward to a weekend of fun outdoors. After a week of commuting in blistering heat, you wake up on Saturday morning to cloud cover and a drizzly forecast. Groan.

It’s perfectly okay to be a bit bummed out. I mean, you had big plans for the day; sunbathing, gardening, going for a long walk in the park, a get-together with friends on a steamy deck enjoying great conversation over a cold drink or two.

Once you’ve given yourself permission to sulk a little, decide what opportunity this quick change in plans has provided to you. I think that sometimes the universe provides for us the very thing we need that we might not give to ourselves.

Here are a few ‘rainy day’ ideas:

  • Skip the shower and don your favourite ‘comfy’ clothes (no shaving, no make up, choose to go au natural!)
  • Enjoy your coffee and morning paper for an extra long time; read the sections you tend to skip when you are short on time.
  • Clean out those drawers that you have been thinking about for the last two (or ten) years. You may discover things long forgotten and thought long lost.
  • Pull out that craft/hobby/special project that you never get time to do on a ‘normal’ busy day off. Remember why you enjoy that activity.
  • Go through your photo albums and just enjoy the memory-filled ride. Pause and take yourself back to the time when the photo was taken. What emotions are attached to it? For what and whom are you grateful during that time in your life?
  • Snuggle under the afghan and watch movies – all day!
  • Sort the 1000+ photos still on your phone and send them off for processing or organize them into an on-line album. You’ll be so glad you did.
  • Play a board game (you still have some around, I bet!)
  • Write a gratitude letter to someone special in your life. Take your time.
  • Read a good book.
  • Phone your Mom (or Dad, or Aunt, or Sibling, or Good Buddy) – just to chat.
  • Meditate; you’ve always wanted to try it, right?
  • Play charades with the whole family; the kids, although hesitant at first (depending on their age) might just like it!
  • Take a nap – on the couch – or wherever you darn well feel like it!
  • Cook dinner together. Make everyone responsible for one part of the dinner. Make it a ‘no rules’ experience (i.e. start with dessert…in fact, it can be all dessert!!)
  • Cuddle with your partner; who knows what that might lead to… it’s all good for you at any stage of life!
  • Go outside! There is something vero relaxing about walking in the rain. If the temperature is warm, skip the umbrella!

I’d love to hear your rainy day ideas. What gift has a change in plans provided for you?

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

Gone Fishing: A Metaphor for Summer Rejuvenation

Fishing Fun!

Fishing Fun!

Are you feeling tired? Are you counting down the days until you take summer vacation? Are you focused on the clock at work, willing the minutes to go by as quickly as possible?

I just set my out-of-office message for the summer, and it reads ‘Gone Fishing’. That message communicates what I intend to do for myself over the summer (so that my family, friends and clients get a better ‘me’ in the long run).

Although I will literally be doing some fishing over the summer, I really mean for this message to express the state of mind I plan to create. It is a metaphor for how I want to feel and be over summer. The ‘Gone Fishing’ state of mind, for me, begins with a visual image. (Use whatever image you like, if the one I am suggesting does not work for you).

When you imagine that you have ‘Gone Fishing’, what are you doing? And, what AREN’T you doing?

I’ll bet you are:

  • Calm
  • Smiling
  • Breathing slowly
  • Aware of your surroundings (hearing birds chirping, seeing the calm water around you, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face)

I’ll bet you AREN’T:

  • Experiencing distress
  • Frowning
  • Hyperventilating
  • Focused on the nattering voice in your head

When you are ‘Gone Fishing’, you are doing things that are out of the normal routine. You let go of what you would be doing on a regular day (being constantly connected to your phone or other technology, ruminating about work, worrying about your child) and you escape to an oasis of relaxation (whatever that might be for you).

So, to create ‘Gone Fishing’ for you, follow these simple steps:

1) Disconnect from technology. Install an out of office message, and trust that you’ll be a better ‘you’ when you reconnect again.

2) Let go of all things restrictive. Let your hair go wild; substitute constrictive clothing for soft, comfortable items, pull out those wickedly comfortable sandals.)

3) Breathe. Watch Dr. Mehmet Oz demonstrate the proper way to do it here (you might be surprised by what he suggests).

4) Focus ‘out’. Move your attention to the sights, sounds and sensations around you.

5) Just ‘be’. Decide to ‘go with the flow’; whatever happens, just be with it.

If negative thoughts enter your mind, practice the strategy outlined in this post titled, ‘How to Rewire Your Brain for Success‘, by Geoffrey James: Shrink the negative image that accompanies the negative thought and emotion. Make the image teeny, tiny and very grainy.  Repeat shrinking it, making it smaller and smaller each time.

Then, draw in a positive image and elongate, enhance and enlarge it. Make it more colorful and vibrant. Repeat this several times, making the positive image larger and more colorful. And, add some sound to it to anchor it more fully in your brain.

So where and when will you ‘Go Fishing’ this summer?

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




You Matter: Three Ways to Make it a Better World

You Matter!

Remind yourself every day – You Matter!

We are all part of an ecosystem – several, actually. Our families, communities, schools and workplaces are all environments of which we are a part. We affect, and are affected by, everything else that is a part of each ecosystem.

I love the definition of ecosystem from Wikipedia; especially the description of how all living organisms are “linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows”.

I constantly remind myself to be mindful of the “nutrition” and “energy” I am adding to the lives of the people I meet and interact with every day. Am I adding something positive? Do I contribute something that helps and supports people? Social contagion is real. We catch each other’s emotions just like we catch colds and flu viruses from each other.

A recent article got me thinking about this again. Erica Pearson of the New York Daily News describes a University of Pennsylvania study that found negative tweets by younger people are associated with higher rates of stress and heart disease in the larger community. Tweets about hating and being bored and unmotivated were linked with higher heart disease in the community. Tweets about friendship and about what’s good in the world were linked with lower rates of the disease. The study found that it was not the “tweeters” who experienced the increase in heart disease, but that those young people were representative of the larger community in which they reside. In other words, communities that are less well (more disease) are those that seem to be associated with more negative and unmotivated young people (at least according to their tweet content). “When people in your community are angry you are likely to feel that simply through psychological contagion,” said lead researcher Johannes Eichstaedt, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student.

So, what are people ‘catching’ from you? If you are hanging on to anger and negativity, it is not just affecting you, but it is affecting everyone around you. The entire ecosystem is changed by you and the nutrition and energy (or lack thereof) that you contribute.

Maybe a better question is, what do you want people to catch from you? Start by thinking about the kind of world you want. I cannot say I have ever met a person who said they want to live in a world that is negative, angry, sad and unmotivated. My guess is all of us – or most of us – would say we want to be part of world that is positive, peaceful, happy and energized.

Here are three ways you can contribute healthy nutrition and energy to the ecosystems of which you are a part every day:

1) Ask yourself, and answer, ‘What’s good today?’ Then ask one other person.

2) Compliment/appreciate one person in your life. Wait long enough to see them smile and light up when you do. Remind yourself of that memory as you drift off to sleep.

3) Spend 1 minute in total silence. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and turn down the volume on your internal dialogue. Just be.

Do you make a difference? You bet, you do. What you think about, feel and do will either add to or detract from the health of your ecosystem. What will you choose?

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






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