Tag Archives: Happiness

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!





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?