Tag Archives: Happiness

Put a Little Love in your Heart

Heart…and the world will be a better place for you and me.

Do you believe that? Is it as simple as putting a little love in your heart? Will the world really be a better place?

I believe it. I believe that love trumps hate, that good trumps bad, that kindness trumps meanness….and I believe that we all benefit when we all have a little more love in our heart.

The lyrics by Jackie DeShannon provide a few insights about what you can do, like ‘Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand’, and ‘I hope when you decide, kindness will be your guide’.

I am reminded in this month of love, about another song by Haddaway called ‘What is Love?’ While I cannot help but think of the Saturday Night Live skit featuring Jim Carrey, Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell (with a huge smile on my face…and a little love in my heart),

..it dawned on me that we could all use a reminder of what love is, and how we might be able to put a little love in our heart. This skit is so engaging because it reminds us all of our search for ‘love’, for acceptance, for connection as we navigate our way through life. It also adds a humorous look at how we often don’t really know what love is. Rather than focusing on what love is NOT (love is not pain, like the lyrics, ‘Baby, don’t hurt me’ remind us), let’s focus on what love is and some things that you CAN do to generate it.

LOVE is strong attachment, attraction, warm affection, enthusiasm or devotion. When you think of this definition, what is ‘love’ to you?

Here is a little LOVE acronym with some ideas to help you put a little love in your heart:

L – Look around. On purpose, every day, choose to focus on what brings love into your heart. It might be a person, a pet, a place, a thing…take a few moments at the beginning and end of your day to focus on and ‘feel’ love in your heart. Remember to purposely focus on what you love about YOURSELF, and what you add to the people, places and things around you.

OOpt for compassion. You might not always ‘lend a helping hand’, maybe ‘kindness’ isn’t always ‘your guide’ – in fact, maybe you behaved down-right badly toward another person or situation. Show compassion to yourself (and to others when they might need that from you). Give yourself the oportunity to make an adjustment. Perhaps you will apologize, or maybe you will offer forgiveness. In all cases, let go and move on (with a little love in your heart).

V – Be Vulnerable. Rather than waiting for someone else to show kindness toward you, choose to go first. Put yourself on the line. Reach out. Help someone else. Make that call you don’t have time to make. Stop and chat with someone you might otherwise walk past. Offer a compliment or a word of encouragement to another person (and to yourself).

E – Nourish the Ecosystem. You Matter. What you think, feel and do makes a difference to you and to the ecosystems of which you are a part. Every moment of every day you are either contributing positively to the ecosystem (yourself, your family, your community, your workplace), or not. You determine whether or not ‘the world will be a better place’, or not. Choose positive. Choose nourishment. Choose life. Choose love.

And, if your mind and body are full of love….if the world is full of love….there is no room, no space, no chance for anything else to exist. And that is just better for you and me.

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, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

 

 

Why You Need to Write A Letter To Yourself

New Year 2017Lately, I have closed my keynotes by writing a letter from the future to the audience. The idea was inspired by Matthew Quick‘s book, “Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock”. Like George Bailey in the holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Leonard is contemplating suicide, and a caring teacher encourages him to write letters from the future to himself to remind him that he matters, to give him hope to live his life.

In both the book and the movie, we are reminded that life can be hard. There are challenges and obstacles that will continually confront us. And, there are beautiful moments, incredible people, and important lessons that can truly, positively, change our lives for the better. Life is hard, and we can live this life well if we pay attention to what’s really important to us.

Here’s a sample of a letter that I have shared with an audience. This one was a part of a keynote I had the honour of delivering to CAPSI’s PDW 2017 (Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns, Professional Development Week). The room was full of pharmacy students. and I chose in this letter to write it from me to each of them. The theme of their conference was ‘Beyond Boundaries’ and my message was filled with strategies for psychological resilience and positivity.

Dear (insert your name here):

You might not remember me – I was the keynote speaker at PDW 2017 in Winnipeg.

Over the years, I have heard such wonderful things about the work you are doing in Pharmacy. You have truly embraced the message of ‘Beyond Boundaries’ … you know that the biggest boundaries in life are those that exist in your own mind … you also know that is the same place to find the greatest opportunities awaiting your creation.

You clearly know what is important in life…it’s not the grades you got in school, but the people you worked with to get them; it’s not the material possessions you acquired when you started working, it’s the small moments sharing a laugh with a friend or helping someone in need that add the most to your life. You know that life is not a contest to be won but is instead a beautiful dance to create and enjoy with people around you. You know that with every boundary there is a pathway through, over or around – if you just pay attention – and remember why you are here.

On behalf of all the people you touch – the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the young adults on their own for the first time, and the senior citizens fearful about a changing world – I offer you our heartfelt gratitude. Thank you for caring, and thank you for connecting.

You will never know how important one smile, or one moment of kindness and compassion can matter to another person. It mattered to me when I visited your pharmacy the other day. You did not recognize me…I am much older now …but I recognized you and you made a difference to my day…and to my life.

You  Matter. Please continue to believe that.

Sincerely, Deri Latimer

Whenever I have done this for the audiences I have the privilege of working with, it has been a highlight for them. I add in some humour – generally reflecting on something that I shared in the keynote; but overall, people like the idea of the letter from the future. Many audiences ask me to send it to them after the event. We all need a reminder that we matter in this world; that we make a difference by the thoughts we think, the feelings we generate and the actions we take.

I encourage you to do this for yourself. Write yourself a letter from the future.

It’s the beginning of a new year. 2017. Bright, shiny and new. Why not write a letter to yourself from your future self; yourself on this day in 2018. What will you say to yourself…what has transpired, how have you lived, why are you grateful, who has mattered to you, and how have you impacted others?

Notice what happens.

(I am so saddened to hear of 12 year old Katelyn Nicole Davis‘s suicide on December 30. Perhaps a letter from the future might have helped her choose differently that day.)

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, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

 

5 Strategies to Make it a Jolly Holiday

Feeling Numb?

Feeling Numb? Chilly? Out of Sorts?

The holidays can be stressful. There’s alot to do, and the pressure is on to prepare food, entertain, and decorate your home. That’s all on top of the shopping!

Many of us love the holidays! We relish in the merry songtrack playing in the malls (with all the online shopping, isn’t it amazing that the malls are still full!!). We notice and respond to the warm and happy demeanour of the people we meet. We get excited about visiting friends and family.

Some of us dread the holidays. As Ray Williams reports in Psychology Today, “For some people, they get depressed at Christmas and even angry because of the excessive commercialization of Christmas, with the focus on gifts and the emphasis on “perfect” social activities. Other get depressed because Christmas appears to be a trigger to engage in excessive self-reflection and rumination about the inadequacies of life (and a “victim” mentality) in comparison with other people who seem to have more and do more.  Still others become anxious at Christmas because of the pressure (both commercial and self-induced) to spend a lot of money on gifts and incur increasing debt. Other people report that they dread Christmas because of the expectations for social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances that they’d rather not spend time with. And finally, many people feel very lonely at Christmas, because they have suffered the loss of loved ones or their jobs.”

Whether this is a tough time of year or not for you, you can always benefit from some strategies to engage positive emotion. And, the bonus is…these strategies work all year long!

LOOKING FOR ‘HAPPY’?

Strategy: Think Gratitude

Thinking Questions:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What makes me smile?
  • What are my blessings?

Body Exercise:

Start a Gratitude Journal. Each day, write down three things for which you are grateful. What do you notice in a week? In a month?

LOOKING FOR ‘CALM’?

Strategy: Focus on Breathing

Thinking Questions:

  • How can I let go?
  • What images/sounds help me feel content?
  • Where does calm reside in me?

Body Exercise:

  • Relax into a favourite position. Touch your thunbs and forefingers and interlock them to make two rings. Rest here for 1-2 minutes.

LOOKING FOR ‘JOY’?

Strategy: Focus on Pleasure

Thinking Questions:

  • What is the source of my delight?
  • What brings me joy?
  • What uplifts me?

Body Exercise:

  • Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth. As you breathe out, allow the sound ‘Haaaaa’ to come out. Experiement with sounding softly and loudly.
  • What else happens in your body as you do this at least 8 times?

LOOKING FOR ‘UNDERSTANDING’?

Strategy: Observe and Honor the Other

Thinking Questions:

  • What emotion am I noticing in the other person?
  • What does the other person need?
  • Where do I feel connected to the other?

Body Exercise:

  • Step into the other person’s shoes by experimenting with mimicking the person’s standing, sitting, walking, gestures. Put yourself in their posture. How does it feel? What thoughts come up?

LOOKING FOR ‘LETTING GO’?

Strategy: Focus on Now

Thinking Questions:

  • When do I feel most free?
  • What do I do to let go and be in the present moment?
  • What opens me up?

Body Exercise:

  • Stand tall, balanced on both feet. Place your hands behind your head, fingers laced together. Press the back of your head into your clasped hands. Notice the sense of uplifting and opening in your chest and upper back.
  • Choose a strategy, or try them all. The key is….pause and notice the small shifts that might be occurring…and then appreciate and allow them to integrate within you.

As an added bonus, check out a wonderful book written by Kevin Rempel, Paralympian and Founder of the Sledge Hockey Experience. In his book, Still Standing, Kevin tells a compelling and authentic story of overcoming adversity. In one of the final chapters, he says “I get it. I’ve lived it. We all have down days. It’s part of human nature. I just want you to know you can take control of the situation. Here’s how I did it. 1) Accept everything. It allows you to look forward. ; 2) Get your priorities in order. Sleep. Exercise. Eat. Socialize.; 3) Journal. Get it out of your head. ; 3) Reach out for help, then accept help.

So, now…go out and create the kind of holiday (and life) you would like to create.

 

 

The 5 Habits of Psychological Resilience

Resilience…when you look at or hear that word, do you find yourself thinking ‘What is it?  And, how can I get some of that??’  The word conjures up incredible images of strength and flexibility, of being adaptable, of possessing the ability to bounce back from the challenges of life.

Resilience is the ability to absorb high levels of change, while maintaining your personal resourcefulness.  It is more than stress management.  Stress management is about ‘managing’ or getting rid of something that is negative (that you don’t want).  Developing or building resilience is more about creating something positive (that you want).  Focusing on what you want to create provides you with opportunities and ‘answers’ that will not come to you when you focus on what you want to eliminate.

And, that is precisely what Habit #1 encourages.  Decide What You Want.  Every moment of every day, focus on what you want.  What do you want to attract to your life at work and beyond?  What do you want to experience more often?  What words would you like to choose to describe your day?

Once you decide what you want, develop Habit #2, Be Mindful.  In order to be mindful, you need to move out of autopilot and away from the default narrative running through your mind (that’s the little voice in your head, that’s always on, although you might not even be aware of it).  When you purposefully STOP and PAUSE for a mindful moment, you have the opportunity to access information from your environment that you might not have noticed otherwise.  You also, during moments of mindfulness, will become aware of your thoughts and emotions.  This increased awareness helps you to self-regulate (rather than being hijacked by emotions that seem to ‘sneak up’ on you).

Habit #3 is Choose Positive.  Your brain’s primary purpose, in addition to being an amazing logic-processing machine that helps you make decisions and solve problems, is to keep you alive.  Every moment it is assessing whether to move away from danger (negative) or to move toward reward (positive).  While we know that positive yields far better results, your brain is by default, negative.  You need to, mindfully, ‘choose’ positive thoughts. And what we are discovering is that when you get in the habit of choosing positive thoughts (beliefs, expectations of yourself and others), and getting the positive results that go along with that choice, you can create new neural circuitry – you can actually change your brain.

And that is exactly what Habit #4 encourages: Integrate the Experience. You can create new pathways in your brain that move you toward what you want (rather than away from what you don’t want).  When you mindfully notice the benefits of moving toward what you want, and choosing positive thoughts, pause again and integrate that experience.  One NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) strategy is to anchor the experience physically.  As you are noticing the sights, sounds, feelings and behaviors of the positive results you are achieving, touch a part of your body (make it a body part that you can easily access in public!!) for a few seconds.  You might choose to place a finger on your wrist, for example.  Choosing an anchor point, and then using that same anchor point each time you are experiencing this resilient state will help you to build new memories in your body and brain that work FOR you.

Finally, Habit #5 is Take Action.  I love the quotation from Elbert Hubbard ‘People who want milk should not seat themselves in the middle of a field in the hope that a cow will back up into them.’  It’s one I’ve adapted to ‘People who want resilience should not read a short article and hope that their brain can suddenly read their mind.’  If you want different results, you need to ‘do’ something different.

Let’s look at the example of Ted, who was finding that he was continually stressed and tense when he was at home with his family.  ‘It really bothers me’, Ted said, ‘they are the most important people in the world to me, and I am miserable and uptight most of the time I spend with them.  The kids are growing so fast and I don’t want their memory of me to be of a guy who could not relax.’  Ted worked his way through the 5 Habits of Resilience, and this is how it came out for him.

What do you want?

I want to be calm at home with my family

When you are calm, what is happening?  What does it feel like? Where do you feel it in your body? What are you thinking? What are you doing? What are you noticing around you?

I see my wife and kids smiling; I attend fully to what they are each saying and doing; I feel relaxed, my face is loose and my body is open and light; my breathing is at a regular rate; I am thinking about how much I value each one of them, I am smiling

What positive thoughts can you choose to ensure you create this experience more often?

I can choose to believe that this is possible for me every day.  I can choose to believe that my children will benefit far greater from a father who is calm and present than from one who is uptight and over-worked.  I can choose to believe that being ‘in the room’ with my family is not taking away from my effectiveness as an executive, and is in fact making me an even better leader.

How will you integrate this?

Each time I experience this sense of calm – at work or at home – I will pause and take note of it, and I will touch my thumb and middle finger together for a few seconds.

What will you do so that you can have more ‘calm’ in your life?

I will breathe deeply to slow my rate of breath; I will shake my shoulders to loosen and relax my body; I will clear my mind so that I can focus on the other person; I will take note of extraneous distracting issues to look back at later; I will focus my attention on the other person; I will smile; I will remember my anchor.

Start each day by asking ‘What do I want today?’ (#1) Start each meeting by focusing on what you want to notice from your team, and what you want them to notice from you.  Decide, like Ted, what you want from your time with family and friends.  Pay attention to what you notice (#2) when you have what you want, choose to focus on what’s positive (#3), integrate the sights, sounds, thoughts, and emotions (#4) and continue to move toward (#5) creating the life you desire.

Let’s Reframe Aging: You’re not just getting older, you’re getting happier!

Seniors Wellness Day!

Seniors Wellness Day!

Last month I wrote a post in which I shared a strategy I have used to help me deal with my mother’s dementia. Aging can suck. My 84 year old mother-in-law says ‘it (getting old) ain’t for wimps’.

While there can certainly be challenges that come with aging, there is some wonderful research supporting something quite different.

Scientists from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found the psychological health of adults seems to consistently get better over time.  By ‘psychological health’, the scientists are referring to the sense of well-being, of happiness in older adults.

Reading this reminded me of a conversation I had with a girlfriend recently. ‘Don’t you just love this time of life?’ she said. ‘I feel so good about myself; I know I look worse (we laughed) but I just feel happier; more calm, more serene, more at ease with myself and others in my life.’ I had to agree with her. I feel the same.

Now, neither of us would turn down many of the obvious benefits of youth, were they offered to us! The sparkly eyes, the glowing skin, the firm….well, you know what I mean.  What we were referring to, though, was the clear truth to each of us, that we were more mentally healthy now than we were in our youth.

We are much more able to ‘let things go’, we can pause and consider whether or not to pursue something instead of reacting; we simply do not “sweat the small stuff”. The researchers discovered that older adults are better at emotional regulation, and when we experience negative emotion we can more readily determine how to manage it. And, interestingly, the research shows that older adults experience less negative emotion overall. (‘Maybe it’s because we are just happy to wake up every day’ my friend says with a smirk.)

All kidding aside, getting older is not an option (well, it is….but the other one is not very pleasant). So, why not embrace aging? Why not reframe aging?

Here is a little strategy to help you do just that:

A – Attention: Pay particular attention to all the positive parts of aging. Write them down. Each day, remind yourself of how happy you are about where you are in your life.

G – Gratitude: Begin each day with a moment of gratitude — for waking up — and also for all that you appreciate about yourself and your life.

E – Emotion: Feel. And when you do, pause. Embrace the emotion. Researchers have already determined that you have more positive than negative emotion. Feel the positive. Where does it reside in you? Anchor it in your memory.

What’s the best part of aging to 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