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Did you know that Canada ranks 7th in World Happiness out of 155 countries? According to the World Happiness Report published by the United Nations, Norway ranks number one, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. The rankings are based on six factors -- per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business. According to this United Nations Report, happiness “is increasingly considered the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy”. Who would of thought? In fact, countries such as Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, and Bhutan believe happiness to be so important to their country’s well-being, they’ve created the position of Minister of Happiness! Ms. Al Rumi, Minister of Happiness for United Arab Emirates states: “For us in the UAE, happiness is very important. I am a very happy and positive person and I choose to be happy every day because this is what pushes me, this is what motivates me, this is what gives a sense of purpose to my life, so I always choose to see the glass half full,” she said.

MARCH 9-10 is NATIONAL UNPLUG DAY

Put your devices to bed for 24 hours.

Take the Challenge to unplug from sundown March 9 to sundown March 10!!

 Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. – Ann Lamott

Happiness has elevated beyond the “fluff” factor.  A recent CBC podcast endorses this fact describing record enrolment in a Yale course that focses specifically on finding authentic happiness: Psychology and the Good Life.  It has the prestigious honour of being the most popular course in the school’s 317 years! U.S. statistictics declare 80% of students are overwhelmed and 50% are lonely. They feel betrayed by a system that taught them to believe that good grades, money and “things” will make them happy. They’re on a mission to find real, authentic happiness. This popular course nudges them toward the concept of “rewirement” or re-patterning of their behavior. Acts of kindness, social connection, gratitude and finding time to do things you love are on the top of the “finding authentic happiness” list. Then comes the hard part: do it!

Unplug:  Take the National Unplug Day Challenge

Call a friend: Go for a walk, set up a coffee date, take in a sports event or even better, participate.

Laugh: Humour has seriously positive benefits. Choose happiness.

Get outside: Notice and appreciate nature’s beauty. Drink in the stillness and quiet.

There’s no cookie-cutter approach for finding authentic happiness. Listening to your gut will reveal what you truly love to do. Another gauge I use for determining my likes is my energy level. What gives me energy, what takes energy away? Re-patterning our brains to change our responses to events and creating new habits takes patience. Is it worth it? Heck yes!!!

My recommended podcast: Cut Through Hate illustrates there’s hope for change! Amazing stories that illustrate hate can be kicked out of this world.

Where would our life and society be without music? Take a listen to these docs and links           :

20 Pieces of Music that Changed the World

Bahamas uses music for therapy. A story about creativity and forgiveness.

In celebration of International Women’s Week

Women Who Have Changed Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s world seems to be full of uncertainties. With the cries of “fake news” or "totally fake" all around us, many have been left wondering if there’s anything we can truly count on that’s real and truthful. This dichotomy seems especially prominent now with the holidays just around the corner and the pressure is mounting to "get our glow on" and deliver an experience that rings real and true for everyone.

So, what's "real" for you?

Real is listening to your gut and not ignoring it but acting upon it. Real is communicating in a loving way, listening and seeking to understand. Real is, as Stephen Covey puts it, beginning with the end in mind and understanding that the most important goal is first having a clear vision of what you want your true holiday experience to be and then making things happen to achieve it. How you get there may be an exercise in flexibility and compromise but in the end you'll be where you want to be.

I know that being "real" can be daunting, but my "Triple A" formula can help!

Yes, raise your hands to the sky and sing out a loud "Hallelujah!" Why? Because you get to take control of what you can control; i.e. your determination and fortitude to have a "real" holiday season.

Take the Safe Stress "Triple A" Holiday Test

Ask yourself these questions to determine if you’re living your truth this holiday season:

  1. Did you dive headfirst into your holiday preparations without contemplation and AWARENESS of your holiday goal?
  2. Are you continuing traditions that cause you more anxiety than happiness?
  3. Have you communicated to significant others your wishes for the holiday season?
  4. Have you ANALYZED the fact that you do have a choice in how you respond to abrasive relatives?
  5. Have you written down or at least mentally know your holiday priorities?
  6. What ACTION have you taken to change what’s not “real” for you?

If you answered “no” to all or most of these questions, you need to GET REAL! Don’t be flummoxed by these questions. Contact me now!

For more tips on dealing with holiday stress, check out these blogs:

Don't Let the Tail Wag the Dog this Holiday Season

All is Calm, All is Bright: 3 Tips on Eliminating Workplace Stress During the Holidays

How to Relieve Holiday Stress

No matter the season, the time is always right to practice safe stress. Contact me to find out how to do it.
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Perhaps the biggest impact of the prevalence of smartphones (and ironically so!) is that we’ve stopped talking! We’ll actually text the person in the office right beside us rather than getting out of our chair to speak to them in person. We'll spend our breaks and lunch hours with our heads buried in our devices. We'll even attempt to text/email while we're walking or, heaven forbid, driving.

While we may be engaging with family, friends, co-workers more frequently and via various social media platforms, the sad reality is that face-to-face communication is becoming a lost art.

Before you pick up your device to send a text, a message or an email, here’s a list of eight reasons why you need to talk to the person face-to-face:

  1. You'll get to see their body-language (and vice-versa), which comprises a major part of effectively sending/receiving messages and thus avoiding stressful misunderstandings.
  2. You’ll get away from your desk for probably a much-needed break.
  3. You’ll build a beneficial connection with your colleague.
  4. You’ll probably have an opportunity to laugh during the conversation and you know that laughter is “the” best medicine!
  5. You'll ensure that your conversation will remain just between the two of you.
  6. You’ll be able to recall the conversation more vividly as all of your senses are involved.
  7. You’ll get an answer right away. BONUS!
  8. You’ll be viewed as more personable as people will get to know you on a different level.

I know face-to-face communication isn’t always possible, but it is desirable! Whenever you can, try to talk in person, or make a call...our devices are, after all, called SMARTPHONES!

Need some help communicating with your co-workers? Having trouble keeping your cool in difficult conversations? Check out my blog post Are You "Losing It" At Work?

For more guidance and tips about how to be an effective communicator, contact me to book your Communication Challenge workshop now!
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And so this week we have learned of more tragedy in our world, specifically Edmonton, AB (I have children and grandchildren living in Edmonton) and Las Vegas, NV. It’s horrific…it’s senseless…it’s sickening to think that one human being can destroy the lives of so many others. Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue on his late night talk show struck a chord with many when he likened the events in Las Vegas to “opening the doors of hell.”

Kimmel’s analogy reminded me of a recent CBC podcast I listened to discussing author Viktor E. Frankl’s experiences in German concentration camps during another “hellish” period in world history. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl describes an astonishing account of survival in spite of his imprisonment in four concentration camps during WWII, the loss of all of his family members, starvation, the loss of his freedom and dignity, and endless physical and mental torture.

In spite of his circumstances, Frankl clung to the last of all human freedoms: the freedom to choose his response to the atrocities he faced every day in the concentration camps. It was because of his conscious choices that he remained resilient and ultimately survived! Indeed, Frankl’s book acts as a powerful antidote for what seems to be unending catastrophic events, which is why we need to revisit it today.

Frankl’s basic philosopy of focusing on hope, focusing on the future, and what the future could be, provided him with the fortitude to live through the “doors of hell.” One story that stands out for me had to do with the powerful use of humour. It seems hard to imagine, but Frankl and his fellow prisoners actually promised to tell each other jokes for relief from their difficult circumstances.

And so I ask, how should we respond in the wake of recent tragedies? With bitterness, cynicism and cruel negativity to ourselves and others? Or with hope and love, empowering our human inventiveness and solution-oriented creativity that we all have within us to stand up and believe that we can and will make a difference in the world for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and all of the people we cherish and love.

Yes, WE have the power to change our lives and the lives of others for the better. As Frankl did, it starts with the choices we make about what we’re going to do.

We can decide to make a positive impact by:

  • Performing one small act of kindness
  • Finding the humour in difficult situations
  • Expressing gratitude for what we have
  • Creating a loving community
  • Journaling to build inventiveness
  • Monitoring our thoughts and tracking them to a positive path

All of these decisions are within our control!

It couldn’t have been easy for Frankl to focus on choosing a response different from hatred and even death as he was tortured and beaten, but he did and he conquered. Following his example, we can’t allow the injured parties or the souls who lost their lives this week to be for naught. Horrific events can be a catalyst to rise above the hatred and find meaning and purpose in our lives. We have choices, just as Frankl did. He chose to focus on hope and creating an accepting and loving future. We can make that choice, too!

Just as a footnote: When Frankl was 90 years old, he was still receiving 8,000 letters per year from people thanking him for changing their lives.

The time is now to practice safe stress. Contact me to find out how to do it.
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Last week there was an intruder in my home. It took time for me to realize that an invasion had occurred but, as the morning went on, I knew something wasn’t right. I slowly began to notice the tell-tale signs: feelings of anxiety, a frown, negative thoughts, silence instead of my usual singing, an overall “uneasy” feeling. Then it finally dawned on me…the ‘silent intruder’ was STRESS!

For many reasons (mostly good), my usual morning resilience routine had slowly evaporated over the dog days of summer and I had unknowingly let the things that increase my level of stress invade my life:

  • I listened to the news first thing in the morning (that alone is enough to send ANYONE into a stress response!);
  • I checked my email and even sat down right away and answered a couple of them just to get them off the “To Do” list;
  • I started thinking about all the things I needed to accomplish throughout the day.

Yeesh, I was in dire need of a resilience reboot!

If you’re also trying to deal with the ‘silent intruder’ lurking in your life this fall, check out these quick and easy ideas:

Fall Resilience Reboots

1.     Be aware! The first “A” in my “Triple A Your Life” formula. Remember, you can’t change things you’re not aware of so make time to check-in with your physical, mental and emotional self.

2.     Eat breakfast; it is the most important meal of the day for your body AND your mind.

3.     Create a morning routine that increases resilience and diminishes stress – one that kicks-butt!

4.     Wake up to energizing or relaxing music: your choice. (Today I danced around the house to “September” by Earth Wind and Fire. Talk about energizing!!)

5.     Meditate or practice mindfulness – there are apps to help guide you. (Even a minute or two is better than nothing at all.)

6.     Read an inspiring quote. One of my favourites is from Marianne Williamson: “It’s not the darkness that frightens us….”

7.     Choose one thing to do today that fulfills your real priorities.

8.     Create a daily, weekly or monthly personal mantra to keep you on track. I use and re-use “I Create My Life.” I love it and it reminds me that I’m in control of me and my life’s direction.

Small changes can make a BIG difference and subsequently be super impactful to your entire life experience. So what are you waiting for? Help yourself fall into fall with a stress-free routine!

p.s. Getting back into the ‘groove’ of things after the lazy, hazy days of summer can be challenging. Here are some more simple tips to de-stress this fall.

For more information about my “Triple A Your Life” formula, contact me now to arrange a workshop.
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“You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em...”

Does this song lyric sound familiar? It will to some of us who remember Kenny Rogers' #1 hit from 1978 simply titled "The Gambler" that took Nashville by storm and eventually crossed over to the pop charts. Although this ballad was written in the context of playing poker, little did the songwriter know that "knowing when to hold 'em and knowing when to fold 'em" is the BEST stress management advice ever, so thank you, Don Schiltz, for your wise counsel! The song goes on to tells us to “know when to walk away, know when to run,” which is more great insight on life and stress. 

What are the events or people in your life to which you can apply this song's sage advice? Here are some topics you may want to take a moment to reflect on, become aware of:

RELATIONSHIPS

Knowing when to hold ‘em is standing up for what you believe in, not letting people walk over you. It also entails living your life according to your principles and priorities. Nothing is more important.  The fold ‘em part of the equation is protecting yourself from events and situations that are out of your control. A friend who drains your energy each and every time you talk to them - always on the take; a dipper never a filler. A co-worker who doesn’t take responsibility for their actions.  A family member who refuses to listen. When you begin to understand that you can’t change people -- only your response to the action or situation -- you give yourself permission to “walk away, and know when to run” perhaps as fast as your legs can carry you!

WORK

You are tired, drained from a long day, yet you feel the need to push yourself to get one more email answered, one more task completed, one more phone call made. This is when you need to “fold ‘em” and “walk away” not later because at this point your productivity and creativity are waning. Do yourself, your loved-ones, and your employer a favour and power down your computer and turn off work for the balance of the day so you can return refreshed and energized the next day. Here are some other suggestions for maintaining a healthy work-life balance

LIFE

When I’m helping people design their careers and create life goals, I often remind them that life is not linear, it can be two steps forward and then a step to the right and two steps back. Perhaps that’s why it’s often called the “dance of life.” Knowing what you want is a series of trial and error and success. As we grow and change, so do our values and attitudes. What once captured our curiosity and interest no longer has the same effect. Being aware and knowing it’s time to move on…let it go…”fold ‘em” is giving yourself permission to move forward with your life and go after your new goals and dreams.  

Remember: You are the creator of your life! It's never too early (or late) to get a game plan in place to take you where you want to go.

I am a Stress and Resilience expert who is passionate about teaching 'Safe Stress' to individuals and organizations craving more productivity, creativity and humour in the workplace. Contact me to book a transformational workshop or keynote today.
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Thinking you have to put oodles of time aside to deal with stress? Think again with these tried and true tips. Here are seven that are guaranteed to help you on the road to LESS stressing and MORE living.

1.     HANG IT UP!

Put your phone away when you come in the door. According to a Stress in America survey, one in five Americans believe constant phone checking is a contributor to stress. The more you check, the more stressful you find technology. The solution? Check your phone at the door.

2.     MAKE A DATE WITH YOUR BFF

Make a date with your best friend. Go out for dinner, take a walk, see a funny movie, listen to some music or just talk over a cup of coffee. The happiest people are those who have cultivated true meaningful friendships with “real” friends. There, now you have something special to look forward to after your work day.

3.     BREATHE WITH YOUR BELLY

Take one long, deep breath, a breath that goes right down to your belly. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth…like you were fogging up a pane of glass. Focus on your shoulders relaxing, your jaw relaxing, your brow relaxing…beautiful! There, don't you feel better now?

4.     WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

Challenge negative self-talk. According to Psychology Today, negative self-talk can lead to stress and depression. The more you tell yourself you’re a failure, the odds are that you’ll begin to believe it.  Conversely, positive self-talk can most certainly lead to a happy life filled with satisfaction and fulfillment. 

5.     SHOW THOSE PEARLY WHITES!

Just the act of putting a big ol’ smile on your face creates positive psychological/physiological changes and reduces your stress hormone levels. Smiling is free, it’s contagious and it’s available on demand! BONUS: It will add 7 years to your life!

6.     MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC

Play, sing, dance! Need I say more?

7.     PICTURE THIS

Take a moment to look at a picture or screen saver of someone or something important in your life. When I am feeling stressed, I’ll often glance at pictures of my loved ones or my favourite memory. What’s really important is very quickly put into perspective.

Having a go-to mantra is another effective way to manage stress. Find out how the words calm blue ocean help me deal with trying situations.

Want to find out more about how you can stress LESS and live MORE? Contact me now to book your customized keynote or workshop today!
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We’ve all experienced it, agonized over it, lost sleep because of it, stressed about it…the toxic office person. Here are 21 solutions to help you neutralize the toxicity:

1. Take control of what you can control. You cannot change the person – you can only change your reaction to the person.

2. Use “non-working” hours to build resilience and manage stress(if you’re not a young mom or dad, you have 56 of them per week!).

3. Intentionally listen to music to alter your emotions and attitude.

4. Mentally prepare to make a change.

5. Use the Triple A formula: Be Aware, Analyze, Take Action to frame your plan.

6. Understand/know the feelings that you are experiencing. Use those feelings to catapult your desire to change.

7. Talk to a friend.

8. Use all resources within your organization.

9. With every action – there is a reaction – do something!

10. Know there’s a solution to this problem.

11. Don’t label the person as the problem; label the behaviour.

12. Find one positive attribute about the toxic person.

13. Take time off to distance yourself from the situation.

14. If Plan A is not working, design Plan B.

15. Know that this too shall pass. Here are some other inspiring quotes to get you through stressful situations.

16. Write in a journal.

17. Avoid/limit exposure to the toxic person, when possible.

18. Use Post-it notes around your home to remind you of what you need to do (changing habits requires a little help - see instructions below).

19. You create your life. Use that power to change it.

20. Humour changes your perspective on everything.  Laugh hard. Laugh often.

21. Believe in your worthiness to live a truly happy life experience.

Post-it Note Your Stress Away!

Changing a habit takes time and is hard work! If you have certain thought patterns you want to change, try this trusty little technique that will have you shifting those thoughts in the right direction quicker than you can say, "Bob's your uncle!"

Grab a pad of Post-it notes and write "When _____ I will _____ so I can _____." Copy your message out two or three times and place the Post-it notes in strategic locations: in your car, on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge door. Use this thought nudger for your daily affirmations, self-talk correction, etc. 

 I’m a stress and resilience guru who is passionate about teaching 'Safe Stress' to individuals and organizations craving LESS toxicity and MORE productivity, creativity and humour in the workplace. Contact me to book a life-changing keynote or workshop/seminar customized to your needs.
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According to the “Father of Stress” Hans Selye, we need stress in our lives. Without it we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning! The problem is we’ve been programmed to react to the word “stress” as a bad thing, and therefore attach a negative connotation to it (i.e. being in a state of distress).

The truth is stress can also be a good thing. Eustress, that is. Eustress is positive stress – beneficial stress – adaptive stress.

If this information is surprising to you, here are five more astonishing tidbits:

POSITIVE outcomes of EUSTRESS1. Things Get Done

We’ve all heard someone say, “I work better under pressure.” Perhaps you feel the same way too when it comes to pushing yourself to get a task done. I’ve experienced this many times myself.

2. Energy Prevails

Adrenaline is pumping, thoughts are flowing, energy is pulsating while you prep for your presentation, an important project, or study for an exam. You feel exhilarated and alive!

3.  Harm Is Averted

You detect a distinctly different odour coming from the basement. You become acutely aware of the scent and your mind works overtime madly deciphering and narrowing down the potential source. You take immediate action to ensure our family is safe.  You are 100% focused on your task. Nothing else exists at this moment except your family’s safety.

4.  Careers Are Boosted

Let’s say your team is poised to win an all-expenses paid trip to a destination of your choice. The pressure is on – good pressure, that is. You are engaged, you are creative and you jump out of bed every morning brimming with ideas on how and why your team will be the winning team.

5.  Relationships Are Created

You’ve met someone who is very interested in your work and there’s no doubt in your mind that this connection could boost your sales immensely. You go out of your way to ensure your potential client gets to know you and your work on a more than a superficial basis. You take the time and energy to cultivate and build a strong foundation of trust and credibility.

When Eustress Becomes Distress

When we’re in a state of eustress, we experience a surge of energy. However, if we don’t manage the surge and return back to our “normal” pre-stress state, we run the risk of becoming “distressed” and thus counteracting all the positive benefits of good stress.

Having the proper mindset is a key factor in managing stress and ultimately determines if we experience distress or eustress. Your mindset is impacted by two variables: how “in control” you feel of a situation and your personal reaction to the stimulus or event.

Want to find out more about how you can change your relationship with stress, turning it from distress to eustress? Contact me now to book your customized keynote or workshop today!
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In my previous blog about change and acceptance, I highlighted the importance of acknowledging our sense of loss for “the way things used to be” and the importance of being super-diligent with self-care (not self-scare!). My Triple-A Formula: AWARENESS, ANALYSIS and ACTION is key during the turbulent “neutral zone” time.

One aspect of self-care that is often forgotten is connecting and being aware of our authentic default: our true, “real gut” settings.  Through good (but sometimes misguided) intentions of our parents, teachers, and friends, many of us have been encouraged to be what we “should be” not WHAT WE ARE so we need to connect (or re-connect) – default back to YOU. Tuning in to who we are and what we value plays a major role in our ability to cope with change. When we’re not in tune, our lives feels out of balance and extremely stressful, not satisfying. In simple terms, we’re not happy.

Don’t “adjust” to be what you aren’t…be what you are.  Diana Krall, Jazz Vocalist

Here are some signs that you are operating in your default settings:

  • You have boundless energy
  • Your actions seem effortless…they come to you naturally
  • Your gut is saying: “Yeah, baby!”
  • You’re incredibly happy – you’re smiling!
  • You handle adversity with confidence knowing a solution will be found
  • You look forward to Mondays/your work day

If you’re out of sorts and are having trouble resetting to your personal default, the practice of mindfulness is a useful tool. One website that I frequently recommend is www.palousemindfulness.com and I also encourage you to watch this informative video: Mindfulness: Being Fully Awake in Our Own Lives

Change is a disruptor. It challenges you, disturbs you, shakes things up! Conversely, change is also an opportunity to examine exactly where you are in your journey of your career or your life and how you want to move forward. Awareness is key! When we’re not aware of who we are how can we possibly analyze the situation and take action as to where we want to go? Impossible!

When you fully understand what makes you tick and why, you have the necessary grounding to weather the storm, steer the course and emerge even stronger and more confident on the other side!

Need a jump-start in uncovering, discovering and celebrating you? I’m a certified Personality Dimensions® facilitator and want to help you and your employees get to know and understand themselves and others. Check out my workshop:  KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU. There is something we CAN do!
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