Tag Archives: Happiness

9 Ways To Make It The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

 

Our family volunteers at Siloam Mission.

Our family volunteers at Siloam Mission.

Yes, it is that most wonderful time of the year. For many of us it is a time to connect with people we love and care about, and to take time to rest and rejuvenate before a new year begins.

Sometimes, it is also a very stressful time of year. There are gifts to buy, cards to mail, and cookies to make – and those things can take away from the positivity of the season.

Here are some tips to help you make this the most ‘wonderful’ time of the year:

Wake up with a pause: Set your alarm for just one minute earlier than you normally do. When the alarm goes off, before you get out of bed, choose to pause, smile and think of one thing for which you are grateful (it might even be that you are grateful to be able to pause and smile!).

Open your heart to a stranger: Purposefully, look for opportunities to connect with someone who is a stranger to you – it might be the waiter in a restaurant you visit for lunch, or maybe it’s the cab driver taking you where you need to go. Stop, and do something small that opens your heart (ask the waiter what he is hoping for over the holidays, tell the cab driver how appreciative you are to be able to jump in to a nice, warm vehicle).

Network with people you really like: Yes, we always hear how important it is to attend all of the holiday events and network, network, network. Well, this holiday season, choose to network with people who are positive and fun – only! Be polite to everyone else, but spend your precious time and neural resources on the people who are adding something positive to your day.

Decide to focus on ‘what’s good’: After you pause, smile and think of something for which you are grateful, spend your time in the shower and on the commute to work asking yourself ‘what’s good today?’  Then, continue through the day, asking everyone else!

Energize your mind, body and soul by volunteering: This time of year inevitably presents opportunities to volunteer your time to help others. While help is needed all year long, you will benefit greatly by deciding to volunteer at this time of year. Our family has served dinner at a Mission, donated gifts to a family who lost their home in a fire, and provided food and holiday crafts to at-risk young people who are not able to be in their own home for the holidays. Every volunteer experience has added greatly to our individual and collective well-being.

Refresh your vibe: Are your decorations the same old ones you’ve had for years? Have you never owned a ‘tacky holiday sweater’? Well make this the year that you refresh your vibe by adding a new element to your home decor, wearing a holiday garment that will surprise your friends, or doing just about anything that makes you giggle.

Finish that project you started long ago: You know you’ve got them; that Afghan you started crocheting when your nephew was born (and he’s now 31), that wooden table that you thought you wanted to paint as a gift for your sister, those shelves you’ve wanted to reorganize for ages. Do it now!

Undo what you normally might do: You normally do your shopping early so you can avoid the malls for most of the month – this year, do it differently and shop on December 20th. Notice what new transformations arise for you!

Link everything to joy: No matter what happens – if traffic is slow, if your late shopping (see point above) causes a little anxiety for you, if you simply cannot find that toy your daughter really wants – reframe the experience to create a more joyful response (this slow traffic is giving me a chance to take a few deep breaths before I get to work, the high energy in the mall is helping me to be more efficient in my shopping process, my daughter will discover that her happiness over the holidays is not linked to any material object).

What do you do the make the holidays as happy as possible? We’d love to hear your ideas.

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 prosperity!

 

 

How to Have a Caring Conversation with Someone who is Making You Miserable

WomenShakeHands3“My boss is a bully.”

“My co-worker constantly berates me for making even the smallest error, or asking what she deems a ‘stupid’ question.”

“My colleague’s voice tone is condescending and insulting toward me when we are in meetings.”

Do you work with someone whose behavior is challenging your energy and enthusiasm for work? Maybe it’s a family member, who you find yourself avoiding because he or she is a real ‘downer’ at family gatherings.

Having a caring conversation with someone who is making you miserable can be challenging. Like most conversations that are worth having, this one requires a little bit of planning and foresight. Also, like most conversations that are worth having, this is one that you will surely be glad you have had, after it is done.

Remember these simple tips as you prepare for your conversation:

Purpose prevails.

Think about your purpose in having this conversation with this person. Why is it important? What impact is the challenging behavior having on your relationship? What’s in it for you and for the other person, to change the course of your communication in the future?

What’s recent is remembered.

When you are preparing for the conversation, think about and address only the most recent example of challenging behavior. For example, you might say “Yesterday you yelled at me and called me ‘irresponsible’ when I made an error in the order.” That is more effective than saying “You always yell at me.” or “You are a bully”. or “Three weeks ago you yelled at me.” When your language is about a specific occasion that is fresh in the other person’s mind, you can more easily focus your conversation on that one example.

Anticipation beats aggravation.

Before you meet with the other person, think about how you imagine he or she will react to what you wish to discuss. What might he say? How might she behave? If you are able to anticipate his or her reaction, you can prepare yourself for it. Sometimes this helps you in thinking about how you will open your conversation. For example, you might start with “Sally, I know that you are struggling with some tough things in your life right now.” or “George, we have not spent a lot of quality time together at these family gatherings because there is often so much going on.”

Empathy enlightens.

Whatever happens during the conversation, choose to empathize, to look at the situation from the other person’s perspective. When you empathize, you naturally ask questions to help you understand (their position), rather than defend (your position). “Joe, it seems to be frustrating for you to have to keep training new staff, only to have them leave after only a few months.”

Openness leads to opportunity.

Choose, as you prepare for the conversation, to be open. Although you prepare ahead of time for what you want to say, you are also open to hearing new information that can help you to determine – together – how you can get along moving forward.  Sitting in silence, breathing deeply, and repeating the words ‘I am open’ before you meet with this person, can help you be in a positive place when you enter the meeting.

Hopeful helps.

End with a statement about how you are confident and hopeful about the future of your relationship with this person. In fact, start with this as your opening also!

Opening: “Jane, I value you as my leader, and I’d like to have a conversation about something that is getting in the way of our working relationship. I know that after we have this conversation, my performance will be enhanced and so will our department’s results.”

Closing: “I sincerely appreciate your time today, Jane, and I am confident that we will be able to continue to develop the kind of working relationship that will help us both to achieve our goals.”

Positive propels!

The next time you see something positive from that person, point it out! Even if the positive occasion is a rare one, take time to show your appreciation. The more you focus on ‘what’s good’, the more of that you will get!

Have you got any tips to share – something that has worked for 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!