Tag Archives: Happiness

Helpful or Unhelpful: What Thoughts Will You Think Today?

Connect!

Connect!

A young woman approached me after a keynote presentation recently. She liked an exercise we did on reframing negative situations into something more positive. She told me about how she has suffered from anxiety for years; largely related to a sexual assualt she suffered as a teenager. She liked the reframing exercise because it was so easy.

I told her about something even easier that she might try.

When our son was in Grade 2, the Health Sciences Centre Department of Psychiatry came to his school seeking children and parents to volunteer to experience a communication skills program called ‘Best Friends’ (at least, I think that is what it was called…it has been many years and I have since lost track of the manual, the researcher’s name, and the purpose of the study, but I remember the outcome of the learning very clearly!).

Our son did not experience anxiety at the time, and does not to this day. Although the program was targeted at children with anxiety, the pilot group included any child that was interested and willing to participate. We enthusiastically signed up! (Okay, I should say ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ enthusiastically signed up; but everyone was willing to check it out.)

The researchers asked parents (and their child) to complete the program over a number of months. The students received a manual and did some learning and practice at school. The parents did some reading, and both the parents, the child, and the teacher journalled during the experience.

I remember being so excited when I realized what our son was learning. One piece has stuck with me over all of these years.

The children were taught that thoughts are just thoughts; that they are not facts. And, they were taught that they could choose thoughts that help (rather than hurt) them.

For example, let’s say that you are playing on the school ground and a boy – we’ll call Johnny – steals your ball. You might feel angry. You might be thinking that Johnny is mean, or that Johnny is a bully. You might cry, run to tell a teacher, or get into a school-yard fight with Johnny.

Thinking that Johnny is mean or that he is a bully are not very helpful thoughts. They do not help you achieve your outcome of wanting to have fun on the school ground.

Consider that you could have a more helpful thought about Johnny. You could think that Johnny wants to play and does not know how to ask. You might then invite him and say ‘Hey, Johnny…why don’t you join our game?’

I remember us practising with  all sorts of situation, and in each one we could easily identify an unhelpful thought (often the default) and a helpful thought.

The key is, we can call choose thoughts that help us achieve our outcomes, that help to move us toward what we want, and that help us be smarter and more resourceful, no matter what comes our way.

In 2012, I posted this blog.

Out, Damned Thought!

Shortly after, I got a message from the father of a 9 year old boy. He was concerned about his son, who was experiencing very high levels of anxiety. The boy was constantly telling himself that no one liked him, that he was dumb, that school was really hard, and that he had no friends.

This father decided that he was going to share some of the post with his son. He said ‘it seems strange to ask a 9 year old to think about his thoughts, but that is exactly what he needs to do’. And he needs to choose different thoughts and then notice what happens.

This article by Elisha Goldstein, ‘Three Common Mind Traps That Sink Happiness’, speaks to this. Goldstein describes how our lives and our minds become routine, and our thinking, interpreting, expecting and relating to people be come habits; they become our auto-pilot. He goes on to describe that often the auto-pilot is getting in the way of our happiness; particularly when we catastrophize, discount the positive and exaggerate the negative, and point blame.

So, connect with yourself (your thoughts) and connect with other people. The young woman who approached me was so glad that she came to the conference and that she connected with others while she was there. She felt better. The reframing exercise was done in small groups. She realized in doing this simple exercise that she could change her thoughts, affect her experience, and that she was not alone in thinking the thoughts she thought. This article in The Guardian by Will Hutton, references the importance of remembering that we are social beings and we need each other. “For happiness can never result from the exercise of choice alone: we are social beings, and the building blocks of happiness lie in looking out for each other, acting together, being in teams and pursuing common goals for the common good.”

Elisha Goldstein’s article reminds us of an old cartoon of a man and woman sitting on a couch in front of a TV, with a caption that reads ‘It’s 12 o’clock, do you know where your mind is?’. He beautifully reminds you that you can cultivate “the ability to be more present to these mind traps” and that the practice of being more present “will help you break free from (the traps) and shift your attention on more effective ways of interacting with life.”

It’s (look at the time) o’clock, do you know where your mind is? Or better yet, it’s (look at the time) o’clock, are your thoughts helping or hurting?

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

 

 

 

 

 

April Showers Bring May Flowers: What Are You Nourishing Today?

Untitled-2I love this time of year. Here in Central Canada, we look forward to April showers. The rain not only helps to clean up our streets and wipe away (along with our wonderful City services) the mess from winter, it also begins to nourish what will soon be blooming all over our beautiful city.

I think this is a great metaphor for life. In fact, for how to approach each day.

Your thoughts are “April Showers”. What you allow to take up residence in your mind impacts what will bloom (or not) in your life. Your thoughts are constantly streaming, just as the rain in April can seem to be doing. What will you allow to swirl around in your mind? If your thoughts were a movie, would you pay money to go see it?

In other words, what will you choose to think that will provide the best nourishment for the kind of outcomes you wish to create in your life?

Here are some ideas for you to GROW the kind of mindset that helps you get what you want:

Greet each day with a moment of gratitude. When your alarm goes off, or when you awake naturally, pause. When you pause, take a deep breath and connect with your body. Wake up and connect with your toes, shins, knees, thighs, and so on. Then, take a moment to reflect on something for which you are grateful (being able to take a breath, having another day to live…these are two very obvious and easy things to start with!)

Reframe negative situations. Perhaps as you are driving to work, someone cuts you off in traffic. You might experience frustration and anger at the driver for not noticing you. You might also experience fear because you missed a fender-bender by mere seconds!  You might notice that the thoughts you are having about that driver are negative ‘What’s up with that guy?’ ‘She didn’t even signal!” “Crazy driver!!” “People are so rude!”. In an instant you can choose other thoughts – you can reframe this negative situation into something more positive. You can decide to think “He must be in a hurry since he did not see me here; I am glad my brakes work well.” “Perhaps she has just left her sick mother’s side, and she is distracted. I hope she gets to her destination okay.” The reframe is a gift to your brain…it helps you to be able to move past this negative situation and to experience more positive feelings…like empathy, compassion, and gratitude.

Open your eyes. Notice all of the moments of wonder around you. You might notice those new buds on the trees as you walk outside. You might notice the joyful sound of children playing in the park. You might notice the faces in the photos on your desk, and take a few seconds to connect with their smiling eyes. You do not need technology to help you experience the amazing things going on in this world. You only need to look around.

Welcome other people into your life. You are always better when you connect with other people. You do less well, mentally and emotionally, when you isolate yourself. You can welcome other people into your life in many ways; smile at people when you walk down the street or through your office, look into the eyes of the person passing you your coffee over the counter, join in the conversation taking place in the office lunch room, invite a co-worker to join you for break, phone a friend.

April showers bring May flowers….what possibilities will begin to sprout for you this month?

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

 

 

Six Strategies to Add Some Bounce to Your Step this Spring!

Jasmine and Deri

Jasmine and Deri

It’s Spring! A time of birth, of renewal, and awakening! Here are six strategies to help you Bounce (or ‘spring’) into Spring!

Be Positive

Begin each day with a minute of mindfulness. As soon as your alarm goes off, lay quietly for a minute…to ‘arrive’ in your body (try a body scan to ‘wake up’ all of your parts), and to set your intention for the day. You will naturally be in a positive mindset if you look toward what you want to create that day. Also, remind yourself of at least one thing you love about being YOU! We are our biggest criticizers. Waking up feeling good about yourself will help to energize you for the rest of the day!

Own Your Story

No matter what has happened to you in your life, remember that you own the story. You decide how an event will impact your life and the people who experience you. Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves were ones given to us by influential people in our lives. Sometimes those stories serve us. Sometimes they do not. Choose stories that add strength, vitality and energy to you. Focus on times of growth and positivity – even if they stem out of times of struggle. What you’ll soon notice is that the new story IS reality.

Underscore Appreciation

What you appreciate, grows. When you let others know what you appreciate, you tend to get more of it. When you focus on what you are grateful for in your life, your overall sense of happiness increases. Grow what’s good. Notice how much more ‘good’ comes back to you. Take the time every evening to write down three things (big or small) that you are grateful for! This is a perfect bedtime routine to put you in a positive mood before hitting the sheets, and will help put appreciation front and center in your mind.

Nourish Your Body (Mind, Soul)

You’ve heard the expression ‘garbage in, garbage out’. That is true for what you choose to put in your body, just as it is true for what you allow to take up residence in your mind. Take the time to nourish yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Choose nutritious food that gives you energy, set up a routine of daily exercise and movement, and surround yourself with people who feed your soul. You will begin to feel the positive effects of full-body nourishment all throughout your day. And, hey, who doesn’t like to feel good?

Connect Often

Schedule times to connect with important people in your life. I’ve just done this with a friend of mine. We scheduled one time each month for the next six months that we plan to get together to connect. We realize that if we do not do this, the months slip by. Matthew Lieberman‘s research demonstrates clearly the importance of social connection to our well-being, our happiness, our very survival. So pick up the phone and make plans with the family and friends that matter to you most. Connectedness is essential to feeling whole and pursuing positivity.

Engage Fully

Jump in and participate fully in life! If you are at work, choose to add to the experience of your co-workers and your customers. If you are with family, show an interest in them by asking questions about what is going on in their lives. Connect with those friends you lost touch with and plan your next big adventure together. Engaging is a choice; and you’ll feel better at the end of the day if you are an active participant rather than a passive bystander.

So, BOUNCE into Spring! And as you do, connect with us and share what strategies have worked for you!

This blog post is collaboratively written by two people who embrace these strategies every day:

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.

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

 

 

 

My Valentine to You

It is the month of love.

I remember as a young girl in elementary school, it was so exciting when Valentine’s Day arrived. Way back then (yes, I was in elementary school in the stone age!), we kids would carefully hang our folders around the classroom and then throughout the day, other kids would add valentines to them. I remember being so excited to see if the the cute boy that I liked at the time would add a valentine to my folder. If he did, it meant he loved me. If he didn’t…well, I told myself he was just too shy to show me he loved me! (I was blessed to have a mother who helped me constantly add a positive frame to things.)

Today, I think of Valentines Day in a different way. I think of love in a different way too. Love is bigger, broader, and bolder at this stage of life.

Now, love is about what I do every day; how I show up wherever I am; what I allow to take up residence in my mind. That is love to me.

So today, in this month of love, I am sending you this video ‘love letter’. It includes a message that I’d like to send out to the world…as an expression of love and connection to you all.

I hope you enjoy watching it, as much as I did creating it.

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

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.

  • FIND A SOURCE OF MOTIVATION

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.

  • LEARN TO LOVE ORGANIZATION

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!

  • MAKE TIME FOR FRIENDS, FAMILY AND OVERALL FUN!

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.