Compassion heals.

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Listening heals more hearts than talking ever will.

In my early thirties I was going through a particularly tough time in my life.

A trifecta of life events where every pillar in my world came tumbling down.

Out of all the sadness, the times that I remember the most were the small joys and simple pleasures with my family and friends.

No matter how complicated and messy life became, it was their unwavering support that pulled me through.

“Just being there” is more powerful than most people realize.

Afternoons with my Dad walking down country roads. Weekends with my Mom at the dollar store. Sundays with my big sister at Tim Hortons.

Surprise phone calls from my two brothers. Relaxing with old friends in their cozy homes  — long past the time and energy they initially had for me.

The best kind of love is simple. It creates a safe space to lose yourself and find yourself all over again. No words necessary.

Listening heals more hearts than talking ever will.

Related Post: It’s ok to not be ok.

Make room for destiny

Are you ready to move on but are reluctant to let something go?

Letting go is not giving up.

Letting go is not giving in.

When you let go you make space for something better.

When you let go you generate energy needed for moving forward.

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Close your eyes. Clear your heart.

Breathe.

Let go of what no longer serves you.

Let go of what weighs you down.

Release.

In doing so, you make room for destiny.

Your highest purpose.  Your greatest calling.

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Your ultimate joy!

Every time you smile, I smile.

 Did you know that today is World Smile Day?

It’s the first Friday in October every year. (October 6 in 2017.)

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Small gesture. Big impact.

I smile a lot. So much so, that one of my coworkers calls me “smiley” and almost everyone else I know (including my mom) calls me “sunshine”.☀️

What about you? Are you known as the smiler at work and in your family too?

Why do I smile so much? 1) I love brightening someone’s day, 2) As an extrovert, I’m wired to smile, 3) I have a lot to smile about, and 4) Smiling feels so darn good!

So it’s no wonder that I love this very cool day dedicated to smiling. If you’re also interested, you can check out the World Smile Day website. It’s filled with articles, history, and fun events happening around the world. Smiling rocks!

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Fascinating research on smiling.

Smiles are more than skin deep.

Have you ever wondered why you can’t help but smile back when someone smiles at you? And why it feels so good when someone (strangers included) smile. It turns out that smiling is linked to a specific type of neuron called mirror neurons.

“Neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti, MD, who with his colleagues at the University of Parma first identified mirror neurons, says that these neurons could help explain how and why we “read” other people’s minds and feel empathy for them.” Source: APA Monitor

The ripple effect of positivity.

Mirror theory helps us understand why emotions are so contagious. Just like mirrors reflecting back visual images, mirror neurons cause us to instinctively mimic the facial expressions and emotions of others. Simply seeing someone smile generates a community chain reaction of positive emotions and behaviour.

One more reason to share your good vibes with the world.

Every smile helps!

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Smiling is good for your health.

Need more reasons to smile?

Neurotransmitters called endorphins are released when you smile. An opiate like structure that is the chemical equivalent of morphine. Smiling has also been shown to reduce stress hormones and rewire the brain.

No wonder smiling feels so awesome!

Let’s Celebrate World Smile Day Together

For the next 24 hours, make note of all the things that make you smile. Big smiles. Small smiles. Sly smiles. Goofy smiles. Anything and everything in between.

Just writing about what makes you smile – will make you smile. I guarantee it.

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Teaching college students all about positive psychology makes me smile!

Don’t forget to share what makes you smile today.

Every time you smile, I smile.

What’s the best thing that happened to you today?

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Shifting students positive.

So many students come to class anxious and stressed out. The last thing on their minds is learning. Which is why I start each class by asking students what’s the best thing that’s happened to them today.

Reflection ◊ Connection ◊ Motivation

Their answers fascinate me. And give me insight into what motivates them. From simple to profound. From food to relationships. From money to purpose. From grades to destiny. And everything in between.

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Less stress. More learning.

Interacting with students in fun and uplifting ways brings laughter and lightness to the classroom. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Yet it creates a significant shift in student stress and comfort levels.

Students need to feel safe. Students need to feel heard. Showing them you care (while having fun) works every time. Only then can the real learning begin!

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 Shifting students from stress to empowerment.

One question. One conversation. One class. At a time.🍎

Always Looking Up

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I look up every chance I get. First thing in the morning. On my run. On my way to work. In between classes. Out for a bike ride. From the skylight in my office. On the front porch before I go to sleep.

Connected to Something Bigger

The sky connects us to something much bigger than ourselves. Challenges seem small in comparison to the vastness of the sky. Solutions seem plausible. Answers come more easily.

The stars heighten our awareness, expand our field of possibilities, and relax our mind. In their presence, we embrace the profound and surrender it all. When we look up, we become fully present. In the moment. Completely mindful. Nowhere else to be but one with the sky above.

Peace of Mind

The celestial bodies provide a sense of comfort, peace of mind, and well-being. No matter what happens, the sun will rise, the stars will shine, and the moon will glow.

Blazing sunsets, radiant full moons, and shimmering constellations are all reassuring reminders that we are in this life together. We are united. We share the same magnificent celestial view.  No matter what happens, we share equal access to the divine, all-powerful universe. We are one. We are never alone.

From Me to We

Recent research at the University of California confirms that a “me to we” transformation takes place when exposed to nature. The study found that inducing a sense of awe (e.g., star gazing; looking at the ocean) in participants shifted their focus from personal needs (small self) to greater concern for society at large (altruistic behaviour).

“Inducing a sense of awe in people can promote altruistic, helpful and positive social behavior, according to research. Awe is that sense of wonder we feel in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world. People commonly experience awe in nature, but also in response to religion, art and even music. When experiencing awe, you may not, egocentrically speaking, feel like you’re at the centre of the world anymore. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others.” Source: Science Daily

“The sun, the moon, and the stars are there to guide us.” Dennis Banks

I am starstruck every time I look up. I am in awe. The sun, the moon, and the stars are the true celebrities in our universe. Always shining. Always inspiring. Always showing us the way.

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What lights your way?

What will you focus on today?

Choice is a powerful tool when it comes to stress perception. What we give attention to grows.

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Which is why we must make the conscious decision to talk about our blessings more than our challenges. Our strengths more than our stressors. Our excitement more than our fears. Our possibilities more than our problems.

Every day is a new day filled with abundant opportunities.

But we have to see them to know them.

Choice is yours.

Related Post: Set a time limit on negativity.

Happy 150 Canada!

The kickboxing club I belong to had special gloves commissioned to celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday. 🇨🇦

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Which is why I’m motivated more than ever to celebrate Canada Day with my fellow boxers at the club today! 🥊 🎉

How will you celebrate your country's birthday this year?

Trust the music.

Stop expecting others to validate what you hear (see and feel).

The music is not “out there”.

The music is in you.

A beautiful melody that only you can hear.

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Listen. Be still. Take a long deep breath.

Fear not who you are. Fear not what you hear.

You are the symphony.

Trust the music that is in you.

And dance a little freedom dance. 

For all the world to see.

Related Post: I believe in you.

Every smile counts.

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Smile like you’re changing the world. Because you are. 🌸

We often think of changing of the world as some great big, grand gesture. Performed on stage with millions of people watching. When in fact it’s just you and me (and 7 billion others). Smiling, connecting, caring, and loving. Every moment. Every encounter. We are the dominos.

Related Post: What if our only life purpose was to be kind?

Let peace begin with me.

So much happens in the course of a day that is beyond our control. There are 100 ways to respond. And only 1 way that feels right.

Overslept. Choose peace.

Ran out of coffee. Choose peace.

 Stuck in traffic. Choose peace.

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Missed a deadline. Choose peace.

Technology overload. Choose peace.

Nonstop meetings. Choose peace.

Bossy coworker. Choose peace.

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Burnt dinner. Choose peace.

Argument with spouse. Choose peace.

Children acting up. Choose peace.

Unable to sleep. Choose peace. 

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Let peace begin with me.🌷

Helpful Video: Eckhart Tolle's Inner Peace Exercise (3 min)

You hold the key.

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Even though we often have little control over the “outside forces” in our lives, we can always make a positive difference – from the inside out.

Start here. Right here. Right now. Be still. Breathe in gratitude. Be thankful for this very moment. Start small. Notice your passing thoughts. Let go.

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Awareness empowers.

Notice the exact time it is right now. Say today’s date out loud. Look up at the sky. Wink at the clouds. Stomp your feet on the floor. Smile with gusto.

Slowly bring yourself back to this moment.

Grab onto the coffee mug you are holding. Inhale the rich scent of the sumatra you are drinking. Feel the warmth of each passing breath.

Feel the texture of the clothes you’re wearing. Wake up to the sound of your voice. Whisper. Sing. Shout it out!

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Dance a little dance. Stand up tall. Anything and everything that shifts you from outer space to inner spirit. From not enough to overflowing.

Positive change begins within.

Come back to yourself. Back to the grace of your magnificent spirit. Into the beauty of your incredible form. Feel the rhythm of your beating heart. Sense the pulse of life itself. 

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Everything you need to transform yourself and the world already exists within you. You matter. You truly matter. But you have to believe it to see it. Feel it to know it. One gentle, uplifting thought at a time.

You hold the key.

Happiness is a conscious process.

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When you notice the blessings in your life (big or small), happiness happens. One conscious thought. One mindful emotion. One insightful gesture. One moment of wonder.. at a time.☀️

Inspiration: 21 positive thoughts for your morning. 

Nature soothes my soul.

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This photo was taken on one of my daily hikes up Blue Heron Hill.

One of my favourite places to go at the end of a long wintery day.

Each breath. Each step. Shifts me higher.

To a place of perfect peace. At one with the great big beautiful sky.

A divine connection. No words necessary. Heaven on earth indeed.

Related Post: Always looking up.

Where do you go to calm your mind and soothe your soul?

From Fear to Love.

How do you talk to yourself?

Have you ever noticed that the more challenging life gets the more critical you are of yourself.

And the more critical you are of yourself the more challenging life becomes.

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It’s a fearful, exhausting, repetitive loop that feeds on itself.

When you’re under extreme pressure, the last thing you need is another self-talk rant of why you’re not good enough.

What you do need is a boatload of unconditional love.

 Resilience is built on love.

And so are you.

Today vow to give yourself the gift of more love, more kindness, more generosity.

A gift that will keep on giving.

Long after the stress is gone.

Find an affirmation or a positive quote that makes you stop, take a breath, and feel your heart beating deep inside.

Something that reminds you of how magical you truly are.

Post it on your fridge.

Write it on your mirror.

Save it on your phone.

Stress is surviving.

Love is thriving.

The next time you start beating yourself up over the smallest thing, take it as a sign that you need some extra love and tender care.

The more love you give yourself, the more generous, authentic, and compassionate all of your relationships will be.

Including the relationship you have with your innermost self.

Related: Mirror Affirmation Exercise

Don’t let people talk you out of your happiness.

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I love you just the way you are.

If you are lucky enough to find joy in the course of a day.. keep it to yourself..

At least until you find the courage to radiate, illuminate, and enjoy your life.

No matter how. No matter when.

Skip through the streets. Watch netflix on repeat. Eat kraft dinner. Swing in the park. Start a blog!

Whatever it is that makes you smile, makes you giggle, makes you dance in the streets.

Whatever it is that makes you levitate, makes you beam, makes your heart skip a beat.

Don’t let people talk you out of your happiness.

The world needs your joy. The universe needs your light.

It is time to silence the happiness critics in your life.

At least in your mind. Forever in your heart.

We all need your unique, quirky brand of happiness.

Now. More than ever. Be brave. Stand tall.

I love you just the way you are.

Shine on beautiful one. Shine on!💫

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Follow your feelings.

Instead of focusing on what you want TO DO.

Focus on how you want TO FEEL.

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Desired Feeling ⇔ Supporting Behaviour

  1. Strong ⇔ Move your body.
  2. Valuable ⇔ Help someone.
  3. Lighthearted ⇔ See a funny movie.
  4. Joyful ⇔ Go dancing with friends.
  5. Free ⇔ Unshackle from daily regimes & routines.
  6. Inspired ⇔ Spend time with immigrants.
  7. Peaceful ⇔ Look up at the stars.
  8. Empowered ⇔ Do what makes your heart sing.

How do you want to feel today?

What could you do today to augment how you want to feel?

Which action or behaviour supports your chosen, most desired emotion?

Related Post: Shifting Positive

 

The Sweet Spot.

Nowhere else to be.

That moment in the day when you realize “you’ve arrived”.

And the most interesting part is that you haven’t gone anywhere.

Instead, you finally come home to the present moment.

The here and now. The sweet spot.

No where else to be. But here and now.

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Right Here. Right Now.

This picture is from a retreat I did with one of my best friends nine years ago. The speaker asked each participant to share when they felt most at peace.

Each participant shared a different story. From when their newborn baby finally slept through the night to when they finally received their promotion at work to when their boyfriend finally proposed.

My answer was (unexpectedly) simple. I shared that I felt most at peace in that very moment. “No were else to be. But here and now.”

Wide Awake to Everything.

I had finally found my sweet spot. A place where “all is well” no matter the circumstances. A place I had been before. But failed to recognize.

A place positive psychologists call flow, and alternatively, mindfulness. A sweet spot that sparkles. Lights up. Expands. Stands still. Speeds up. And flows..

Running. Teaching. Encouraging. Writing. Laughing. Helping.

A sweetness I now easily recognize in the course of each day. That moment when I am wide awake to everything. To every sight. To every sound.

No judgements. No resistance. Simply accepting what is. And what will be.

IMG_1813 How do you know when you’ve finally “arrived” to the present moment? What does your “sweet spot” look & feel like?

Happiness in One Word

 

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At the beginning of my Is Happiness a Choice? presentation I ask the audience to write down the one word that best describes what has brought them the most happiness in the past 12 months.

How would you answer this question?

In one word, what best describes the people, places, or things, that have brought you the most happiness in the past 12 months? Big or small.

What makes life worth living?

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I’m pictured here with St. Clair College graduates Olivia Bauer and Sarah Ryrie.

My One Word = Students.

The one thing that brings me the most joy, meaning, and contentment is the opportunity to work with Canada’s future, our students. It’s the one place that I believe I’m making the most difference in this world.

Wake Up Call.

Every time I get a little down, frustrated, and/or disappointed (basically anytime I’m feeling powerless or stuck) by the circumstances of life (we all have ups and downs, positive psychologists included), I bring myself back to the “One Word” that best describes how blessed I am to be alive.

And some days my one word = Chocolate

May the one word you write down be a beautiful reminder of all the light that shines in your life, even on the darkest of days. And please don’t forget to share your one word for happiness. Your one word may be someone else’s wake up call to joy. ⏰✨

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