ENGAGE: Lessons From Death On How To Live Well

My older brother passed away on March 20. It was completely unexpected and way too soon. He was just 61 years old and fully engaged in his life.

At his Celebration of Life, I reflected on what I had learned from how he lived his life; and on how I could make some positive meaning from the huge gaping hole of sadness still present in my heart.

The morning of the celebration, I was not sure that I was going to be able to speak. While I wanted to share some memories of my brother, I felt nauseous and weepy, and unsure I would be able to pull it off.

At the last minute, I decided I wanted to do it…and no matter what…even if I was a blubbering mess…I was going to do it.

I am so glad I did.

My big brother taught me many things; mostly, he taught me to engage! Dene was a ‘yes-man’ in the last few years of his life. He was up for anything! If he was invited somewhere, he went. If he was sitting beside someone on the bus, he would strike up a conversation. If he attended a curling event, he would cheer loudly.

When I reflected on this gift from Dene, it reminded me of much of what I believe to be true about the pathway to living a good life.

I think that all of us – every human being – ultimately, wants to be happy. You already know that happiness does not come from outside of you…it does not randomly arrive, or not arrive, based on external factors. Happiness is an internal state, and is always created by what you choose to DO.

One thing you can do – like my older brother taught me – is to engage! What does it meant to ‘engage’. Very simply, it means that you:

  • choose to participate in events that are important to people you care about
  • jump in when you see a challenge before you
  • say ‘yes’ to a chance to help someone who could use it
  • connect with people you know, and also those you don’t
  • smile as you pass a stranger (and a friend)
  • do your best at work
  • ask for what you need in order for you to do your best at work
  • help others do their best at work
  • be grateful for the people who touch your life
  • let others know what you appreciate about them

I am so grateful that I chose to engage with Dene throughout his life, that I told him how much he meant to me, that I valued every moment we had together, that I laughed – and cried – with him, and that I chose to share my memories of him at his celebration.

Choose to engage. Notice how you feel. Repeat.

 

‘Hygge’, ‘pyt’: What are your Words for Well-Being?

Take time to pause, notice, and choose…

Any blog that starts with a reference to a group of people (in this case, a nation) who appear to be ‘happier’ than other populations, is going to pique my interest to learn more. This post certainly did that!

I recall hearing about ‘hygge’ (pronounced hue-guh) years ago. Hygge is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment – whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary – as cozy, charming or special. It is simply about awakening…it is about noticing… it is about slowing down and being present to not only recognize a moment, but to enjoy it.

Well, the Danes have a new word for well-being…’pyt’ (sounds like pid). It is also about noticing and acknowledging…however, pyt is an expression used in response to daily hassles, frustrations or mistakes (it translates in English to sayings like ‘don’t worry about it’, ‘stuff happens’ or ‘oh well…’).

You might spill coffee down the front of your shirt, shrug and say, “pyt.” You might see a parking ticket on your windshield and, just as you begin to become angry, shake your head and murmur, “pyt.”

I love this…for two significant reasons! First, just as it is with hygge, pyt is about noticing, and acknowledging – AND, since it is about noticing and acknowledging something negative or frustrating, it is about taking some action that will help move your through that negative situation. Rather than being de-railed for the day, or stuffing that frustration down – only to be piled on to other frustrations – expressing ‘pyt’ allows you a chance to reframe the situation … and to then move on.

It got me thinking…what, I asked myself, are words that I can use….to first, notice and relish positive moments…and second, to move through negative situations?

If you’ve experienced me as a keynote speaker, you have certainly heard me talk about anchoring (usually framed in a ‘Touch Yourself’, fun moment!). Based in research from NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), when you create an anchor you set up a stimulus response pattern so that you can feel the way you want to, when you need to. Anchoring refers to the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger so that the response may be quickly, and sometimes covertly, re-accessed. So, for positive, warm, happy, ‘cozy’ moments in my life, my word for that will be ‘touch’. That word will be my reminder to pause, to notice, to enjoy and to anchor that experience in my mind and body.

When I experience negative, frustrating, daily hassles…the word I will use is ‘ahhhh’. That will be my reminder to breathe, to let it go, to ‘chill’, to move on/past/through that moment.

What words will work for you?

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!



5 Tips to Warm Up to Winter

Enjoy the Season!

Baby, it’s cold outside! A song that received much attention this winter, in the light of the #MeToo movement, this title was a recurring theme across many parts of North America in January and February.

If it’s true for you, try these 5 Tips to Warm Up to Winter

Tip # 1: Give It a Break

The ‘it’ to which I refer is….yourself! Leave your desk or workstation (preferably your phone, too) and take your breaks – morning, noon and afternoon. Even if you can’t get away for your full break, take 10 minutes to leave your desk or normal work area and eat your lunch/snack somewhere else. It will give your body a chance to nourish itself and your mind the opportunity to slow down without work related distractions. Practice being fully present while you are AWAY from your work area.

Tip # 2: Choose Positive

Focus on what you are looking forward to every day (not what you are dreading, not that your car might not start at the end of the day, not that you are dreading the slow ride home, etc.). Throughout the day (during breaks is a great time), ask yourself ‘What went well so far today?’. Then, pause and enjoy the experience. Write down what you appreciate about your leader, co-workers, clients/customers, and family members. End each day by writing down three things for which you are grateful for that day.

Tip # 3: Smile : )

Do it, right now! Don’t you feel better already? Now, smile at your co-workers as you pass them in the hallway, as you greet them at meetings or wherever you get the chance. Check out Ron Gutman’s TED Talk on the hidden power of smiling. In that talk, Gutman, the founder and CEO of HealthTap reviews a number of studies that reveal how smiling has a measurable effect on your overall well-being, and can be a predictor of how long you’ll live. If that’s not reason enough to smile, remember that it is a contagious behavior…so your smile impacts the well-being and longevity of everyone around you!

Tip # 4: Give Yourself Permission to ‘Hang’

You are constantly on the go. There is always something to do, or somewhere you either need to be, or think you should be. Use a cold day as an ‘excuse’ to do something you rarely take time to do: read that good book you’ve been meaning to get to, order take out, stoke up the fire and have a movie marathon with the people you care about.

Tip #5: Remind Yourself That ‘This Too Shall Pass’

I was at a funeral recently, and a young lady read ‘For Everything There Is A Season’. I’m embarrassed to admit that I did not know that these words originated in the Bible. I remember these words mostly from the song, performed first by Pete Seeger in 1952 and later by the Byrds. These words carry great comfort, I believe, and remind us all that there is indeed a time for everything (even -46C!!).

Here are the words from Ecclesiastes III:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

And, here are the words set to music by the Byrds. Enjoy!

What do you do to warm up to winter?

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!