Set a time limit on negativity.

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.

This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we  did not want to do.

Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.

Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.

In this interview I share why I set a time limit on negativity.

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.

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The timer principle can also be applied to how often we are negative vs. positive throughout the course of a day.

Negativity is the easy (automatic) route. So we need to be conscious of where our mind flows.

Venting feels good in the moment, but when it goes on too long, the costs outweigh the benefits.

Joy needs room to breathe.

Too often we complain about stressors for hours beyond the momentary challenge has passed. Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and gratitude.

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Then one day we wake up and realize that life is too short to be all negative, all the time. Even (especially) when life gets tough.

Balance is key.

Negativity is to be expected. It’s part of the human experience.

The question is – how long will you stay there.

Share your challenges. Share your obstacles. Share your difficulties.

But also leave room for what’s good in your life.

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Joy needs room to breathe. And so do you. ♥

Interview: Energy vs. Time Management

What’s your mantra?

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This is my mantra.

I write it on my bathroom mirror. I post it on my refrigerator door. I tape it to my office wall. I speak of it every time I teach.

These 4 words remind me to focus on what’s good, what’s working, what’s infinitely possible. Even (especially) when everything is going wrong.

Focus on the good.

Because if I can find one good thing in the course of a day, I have found my reason to live, to love, and to lead.

Sometimes the blessings are obvious. Sometimes they’re hidden. Sometimes it’s simply breathing. Other times “it’s the moments that take my breath away”.

Mantras wake us up.

Mantras work because they wake us up. Snap us out of it. They carry us from the perpetual loop of our worries to the equanimity of present time.

For we all need a gentle nudge in the right direction. A loving reminder to come back to reality.

Or we’ll all be too busy looking down that we miss the beauty of what’s right in front of us. Life itself. 💙

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What’s your mantra?

Related Post: Happiness in one word.

You were born to light up the world.

Be the light.

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Change the world.

Related Post: Good energy multiplies.

WHY change NOW?

The first question I ask clients wanting to make a change is “Why Now?”

For there is no doubt that they (and you and I) have been wanting to transform an aspect of our lives for a very long time.

But the intrinsic motivation just isn’t quite there. The kind of motivation that is essential for lasting change.

Unfortunately too many people wait for something bad to happen in their lives before making positive changes.

This is a universal truth.

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How do we “change” how we change?

We take two steps back before moving one step forward.

We pause. We slow down. We notice.

We open our eyes to all the possibilities.

We write our dreams down.

We take photos of what inspires us to bloom.

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We ask for honest feedback from people we trust.

We acknowledge what gets in the way of our potential. Big and small.

We compile all the reasons why our best lives shouldn’t wait another day.

And we have fun doing it! Positivity has power too. 🦋

Why change now?

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Watch My CBC-TV Interview:
5 Ways to Embrace Change

Just what the doctor ordered.

What if…

What if your doctor prescribed dancing as a fitness activity instead of time on a treadmill or at the gymnasium. Would you be more likely to follow through if exercise was fun and uplifting?


This doctor’s prescription for today:

Dancing!

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Which is why I love the commercial below.

It’s a great reminder that getting healthy doesn’t have to be arduous.

It can be so much fun!

Families who dance together stay healthy together.”

Dance inspires me to stand up, shake it off, and bust a move. 🎉💃

What about you?

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What inspires you to follow a healthy lifestyle? 

Related: Laughter saves the day.

Hope.

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My husband John and I had dinner at this little restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake when I was away speaking at a conference this week. This single pink rose reminded me of the one thing that truly matters. HOPE. I have hope. In you. In me. In our future. I have hope. 💕 

Wishing you a long weekend filled with flowers and sunshine.

Related Post: Always looking up.

Ordinary Joys

Simple pleasures are my favourite.

Hot coffee. Cozy blankets. Birds singing. The sun rising. Fast runs. Slow walks. Long days. Warm hugs. Peaceful silences. BLT sandwiches. Tomato soup. Matinee movies. Buttery popcorn. Ice cold pop. Walking on campus. Smiling in the hallways. Laughing with students. Learning from students. Driving home. Soulful conversations. Dreaming of the future. Reminiscing about the past. Living fully in the moment. Riding bikes. Dancing down the street. Barbeque dinners. Chocolate almonds. Stephen King novels. Hot Tea. Cozy Blankets. Birds Singing… 

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Nothing is more extraordinary than our ordinary joys. For how we live our days is how we live the whole of our lives.


What brings you joy on an ordinary day?

Faith.

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Trust the process of your life.

What looks like the end could be a whole new beginning.

You just can’t see it yet.

Shifting Positive on a Stressful Day

“Every day might not be good, but there is something good in every day.”

In psychology class this week, I teach one of my favourite subjects – Stress, Coping, and Health Psychology Chapter 11 in my psychology textbook.

I purposely teach this topic during the height of midterms. Raising awareness about the healthy (and not so healthy) ways students manage stress is critical for building resilience.

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Shifting Negative ⇒ Positive

One of my top 10 techniques for shifting students from stress to strength is to share what’s going right even (especially) when things are going wrong. Small uplifts in the course of the day change everything. Fleeting. Unexpected. Goodness.

Based on my experience as a school psychologist, I will never deny the stress students are under. Witnessing adversity is an essential part of moving through itHowever, I choose not to remain in the territory of “what’s wrong” for too long.

What We Focus on Expands

Once we acknowledge what’s wrong. We open our eyes to the grace that takes place throughout the day.

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“Good things are always happening. The key is to notice them.”

Students make the shift from powerless to empowered by sharing ordinary joys happening in their lives.

A radiant smile from a fellow commuter. Free coffee at McDonald’s. An unexpected A on a paper. A sweet parking spot. Spending time with an old friend. A surprise compliment from a stranger. Laughing out loud with fellow classmates. A really good night’s sleep.

And I’m the fortunate professor who gets to hear all these uplifts at the end of a long, rainy day. One more reason why I love working with students.

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How do you shift positive on a stressful day?

Related Post: Put a time limit on negativity.

Good energy multiplies.

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I want to give the world the best of me.

This is my hope every time we meet.

And every time I teach.

No matter how brief or long our interaction.

I want to leave you feeling brighter, lighter, more confident.

The bonus is — when your energy rises, so does mine.

A boomerang effect of the highest kind.

Which is why I will always keep your vibes in mind.

When your day brightens, so does mine. 💫

How will you illuminate the world today?

Related Post: Shine your light.

1000 views on the official TEDx site!

I am so excited to share that my TEDx video hit 1000 views today! 🎥

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A BIG thank you for watching and sharing my TEDx talk with your friends and family. We are stronger than our stress. This I know for sure. Together we will thrive under pressure. 💥

Click on TEDx Video → Thriving Under Pressure

Rise and Shine.

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Be who you were meant to be. Shine your light for the whole world to see.

🏹  Rise UP and Shine 🌞 

Related Post - Trust the music.

How will you move the world today?

What are you most excited about in your life right now?

What brings a smile to your face and makes your heart skip a beat?

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Each time you share your zest for life  — you move the world !

Related Post: Enthusiasm is contagious.

Mindset changes everything.

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The Resilience Mindset

What we believe matters. As it’s our mindset that shapes our physiological and emotional response to stressful circumstances. Ultimately, determining our ability to bounce back after adversity.

For example, when a relationship ends, if we view it as a personal failure, from a place of blame and shame, we are less likely to try again. Afraid to risk the pain, reluctant to venture beyond our comfort zone.

“Obstacles do not block the path. They are the path.”

On the other hand, if we perceive the same breakup as an opportunity to learn. To begin again. To start over. Fresh. Renewed. We are more open to meeting someone new.

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Today I am grateful for all of my relationship failures. For if it weren’t for the loss, the heartache, and the lessons, I never would met the wonderful man that I am married to today.

Trust the Process.

It was not easy at the time. Challenge rarely is. But if we just keep our eyes to the sky, and trust that no matter what we are going through, it will all be worth it in the end.

I hope you find comfort in your discomfort. And beauty in the stars.

Related Post: Lay down your burdens.

The domino effect.

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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?

Stress is a choice.

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Activate your free will today. The results will take your breath away.

Related Post: Lay down your burdens.

Good vibes on the inside

Wishing you a day filled with joy.

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Related Post: Ordinary Joys

Purpose for one day

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I have the pleasure of starting each day with my husband John.

Each morning begins at 6am with an hour of coffee talk weekends included.

No alarm clock necessary. 

Having something as wonderful as hot coffee and good conversation to look forward to each day is its own wake up call.

This morning I asked John to share why he thought he was born.

Deep talk, I know.

But that’s just how life rolls when you’re married to a psychologist.

John’s answer: “To make one person’s life better that day.”

To which I replied: “Purpose achieved.” (He makes the best coffee!)

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This conversation got me thinking about how important it is to live our purpose in short 24 hour segments. Too long a timeline and we feel lost and overwhelmed.

Name the purpose. Claim the day. Leave the details up to the universe.

Who. What. Where. When. How. Are spontaneous.

Simply be on the lookout for one opportunity to be on purpose for one day.

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1 person. 1 purpose. 1 day.

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?

Back to school!

Today marks my 15th orientation with BScN nursing students at St. Clair College.

 

No matter how many years I attend Fall orientation, it feels like the first time.

No matter how many times I work with students, it never gets old.

Their first class is my first class.

Their struggle is my struggle.

Their victory is my victory.

Students are my reason why.

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And so today marks the beginning of something great.

Another fresh start.

Another set of dreams.

Another opportunity to change (student) lives for the better.

Related Post: Shifting Positive on a Stressful Day.

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.

Positive psychology on campus

What is Positive Psychology?

“While traditional psychology focused its attention on pathology and problems, in the relatively new field of positive psychology, researchers strive to explore and understand the strengths of individuals and communities that contribute to their flourishing.” Source: Psychology Guide

Strengths first.

I am passionate about what positive psychology can do for students and educators in and out of the classroom. By first focusing on what is right, before examining what is wrong, students are motivated to move beyond, and in some cases, be transformed by their current limitations, history, and circumstances.

Link to: VIA Character Strengths Inventory
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Balance is key.

Positive psychology is not about being happy and successful all the time. Instead, happiness is aspirational like a delicious meal at a 5 star restaurant. Wonderful but not to be expected, at every meal, all the time. (Otherwise, we set ourselves up for disappointment on the Kraft Dinner days.)

Instead, the field of positive psychology helps bring out the best in us. In a balanced way. The ebb and flow of life. Negativity is to be expected. The question is – how long do you stay there.

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Safe uplifting atmosphere.

As a professor, I believe it is paramount to create a safe and uplifting atmosphere in the classroom. A secure and consistent milieu where students know what to expect class to class, week to week, semester to semester. A place where students are encouraged to build upon their existing strengths, while feeling supported enough to share their current struggles.

Link to: Broaden & Build Theory of Positive Emotion

As I teach mostly nursing students, it is critical that I practice what I teach in and out of the classroom. Nursing students will also be responsible for creating an encouraging and safe space for their clients one day.

The yellow t-shirts are from the Yellow Umbrella Project, an Ontario wide college campaign for battling the stigma of mental illness on campus.

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 Positive psychology and student empowerment.

My highest goal is to work with young Canadians in a way that empowers and encourages them to become the best version of themselves. Cultivating success in a way that is unique to them. I believe that interactive lectures combined with warmth and real-life stories is the best approach for achieving this goal.

Link to: Optimism Bootcamp

The photo below is from a leadership conference for college students where I discussed the connection between optimism and student success.

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Celebrating students every chance I get!

Ultimately, I hope to remind students of their gifts. While encouraging them to embrace their challenges. For we are the sum total of all that is powerful and vulnerable – within and around us. And it’s this extraordinary combination of strong and weak, good and bad, light and dark, that makes our world (and our classrooms) such a fascinating place to live (and thrive).

PODCAST Respecting the Process

Do you trust the process / evolution of your life?

Do you stir the pot before it boils? Do you open the oven before it bakes?

Or do you relax on the sofa trusting the recipe and the time it takes?

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Not long ago, I was interviewed by Adam Rochon on the topic of transformational change.

During the podcast interview, Adam and I explored a different way of thinking about change.

A more uplifting and empowering take on transformation.

Adam and I discussed how the key to lasting change isn’t to push yourself harder.

The key to lasting change is to understand yourself better.

To accept yourself more. And to judge yourself less.

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Trust the timing of your life.

Your good and bad habits did not develop overnight.

And neither does transformational change. 

Ultimately to grow, we must trust, let go, and learn to respect the process.

Excerpt from my interview with Adam Rochon: “For me respecting the process in my own life and in all the people I’m blessed enough to meet, is to realize the process is so much bigger than I am. It is our destiny. It is the 100 years – if we are ever that lucky to live on this earth. Whatever we experience, good or bad, is just a day in the life and that we need to pay attention to where we are. When we get stressed out, overwhelmed and are going through a lot of changes, take a step back and realize that there are so many forces at work that are greater than we are – which is the process. When we Respect the Process everything just falls into place. It sounds simple, but you need to just let go of what you don’t have control over and be inspired by the process.” Episode #15: Transformational Change.

Click here for access to full podcast interview. 🦋