Tag Archives: Happiness

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

 

How’s Your ‘Thumbnail’?

TEDx for BLOGI just finished shooting a quick video message for a client. If you have ever had this experience, you know that once you are finished and ready to post the video on YouTube, you are offered a selection of ‘thumbnails’ from which to choose. A thumbnail  is internet slang for a small freeze frame (picture) from your video.

I am always amazed how the thumbnail options from which I have to choose are almost inevitably ones that are less than flattering. My mouth is wide open, my eyes are closed, or I have an expression on my face that would frighten small children!

Then I started thinking about this a bit more deeply. The only reason those thumbnail options are offered to me is BECAUSE THAT IS EXACTLY HOW I LOOK WHEN I AM SPEAKING!

I’ve always been animated – especially when I am speaking on a topic that excites me. Some might argue that this animation is an asset in my profession as a speaker.  But what about in my life in general? How’s my thumbnail in everyday life, I wonder.

I caught my reflection in a window the other day. I had a ‘concerned’ look on my face. I had, indeed, been thinking of something important in my life – something serious – and it was literally ‘written all over my face’. I wonder what people who saw that expression thought of me. Might they be drawing conclusions about my friendliness and my approachability?

How about you? How’s your thumbnail, right now? Is it a picture of approachability? Is it a message of openness? Is it one that inspires confidence from your manager? Is it a thumbnail that engages trust? Is it a face that the people you care about hope to see?

I remember hearing Maya Angelou being interviewed a few years ago. My children were ‘tweens‘ at the time. She said something that really resonated with me. ‘Do your eyes light up when your child walks into the room?’ I had to take a real, hard look at myself as a parent when I heard that. I think – often – I was so focused on what needed to be done, that I forgot to pause and just appreciate them walking in the door (so that my eyes could light up with gratitude before I started barking orders about what needed to be done).

I also thought about whether or not my eyes light up when I see my husband, when I get together with my girlfriends, and when I meet with a client. I hope they do.

I am certainly not suggesting that you have to walk around all day every day with a huge smile plastered on your face, just so people don’t think you are cranky. I am suggesting, however, that you increase your awareness of what’s written all over your face. What would your face communicate if it were suddenly freeze-framed?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment here. Even better, send a photo to deri@derilatimer.com, post it on Facebook or Linkedin (tag me at Deri Latimer - and connect with me, if we are not already connected), or post it on Twitter with #mythumbnail and tag me @derilatimer.

A TEDx speaker and organizational consultant in all things people, Deri Latimer provides inspiration and information to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!

 

 

Are You Ready for ReWIREment?

FiredUp_MiddleAger1Yes, you read that correctly! Rewirement. What a cool word. And it’s potentially the newest description for that ‘next’ phase of life that many of us find ourselves talking and thinking about more often these days.

I loved it when I first heard it – from a colleague of mine as we shared a coffee last week. Rewirement. What does that word communicate to you?

To me, rewiring is all about continually moving toward creating the kind of life you want to live. It is about choosing thoughts that help you to experience your life to it’s fullest. (Of course, Rewirement can happen at any phase of life, not just when you are contemplating leaving the workforce.)

What thoughts can serve you well as you look ahead to the next phase of your life? Here are a few ideas to consider:

Thoughts about Yourself:

  • I learn something new every day
  • I like where I am in my life right now
  • I can continue to contribute meaningfully to this world

Thoughts about Others:

  • My family and friends value me as much as I value them
  • Every person is doing the best they can in the present moment
  • I enjoy learning something new from the people I connect with each and every day

Thoughts about Ageing:

  • People can feel energized and engaged in life at any age
  • We really are getting older AND getting better
  • The lines on one’s face and body mark memories of the great life they have lived

Thoughts about Retirement:

  • This is an exciting time in life
  • It is possible to continue to be engaged in things that bring joy
  • Retiring is not an ‘ending’, it is a new beginning

Rewirement is also about choosing behaviours that maximize your happiness and general well-being. Certainly choosing positive thoughts will help you to choose positive behaviours, but you can do this in the reverse order as well – choose positive behaviours and notice how your thinking (and feeling) changes.

For example, I just started 100 Happy Days (http://100happydays.com/) – an online platform to focus on happiness. Each day, for 100 days, you submit a photo to a social media platform of your choice (instagram, twitter, facebook, etc.) and use the hashtag #100happydays. Then, notice what happens. Just like the power of a gratitude journal, taking a picture and posting it online is an easy way to keep being mindful about what brings you happiness each day (and remind you that there are a lot of things that bring you happiness every day – you just need to focus on them). It’s really that simple. I’ve already noticed an upswing, and I am only on day #2!

So, what will you choose to think and to do today – to get ready for Rewirement?

 

 

 

 

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!