Sunday, 31 January 2016
Which moments in life are the ones that make you feel true happiness? Was it that day that you got a promotion at work? Was it the time that you went on a big shopping trip? How about the time that you met one of your sports heroes? Chances are that you enjoyed those moments, absolutely. But did they bring true happiness or real joy?
I recently spent nine days over the Christmas holidays with extended family in Hawaii. Extravagant? Perhaps, yes. It certainly wasn't inexpensive with the state of the Canadian dollar! My cousins and I planned this vacation for a year and a half and when it finally happened, it was pretty amazing. I would say that it was a once in a lifetime experience. It made me very happy, indeed. But it wasn't because of the monetary value or the exotic location (although, Hawaii is certainly my geographic happy place!)
My happiest, most joyful moments on the trip were the simple ones: enjoying a really good cup of hot Kona coffee; a simple picnic dinner spent with family on the beach; staring out to the ocean, watching and listening to the waves crash and just letting my mind wander; gazing at the stars at night; laughing with my loved ones over something ridiculous; and just talking one on one.
When I came back from vacation and friends asked me about my time away and I recounted my favourite memories, I was reminded how easily one can take the wonderful moments from a vacation and transfer them to everyday life.
When I returned home I bought myself a brand new mug for work that says Hello Sunshine - it just makes me smile (and it makes those who see it smile, too). Every morning as I check my email and start my day I do so while enjoying a hot cup of coffee. Because I love Hawaii, I often listen to instrumental Hawaiian music on my earphones while I work. I connect with loved ones whether it's via email, telephone, social media or in person; cultivating relationships with people who lift my energy and mood is vital to my true happiness and overall well-being.
Not that hard, right? And yet, it can be at times. Life gets hectic and we start moving faster and faster. Soon that vacation is only a memory and the benefits to our mental and physical well-being have either diminished or left us altogether. Experiencing mood disorders over the past two decades has taught me a few important lessons, one of which is that sometimes you just need to stop. Stop and take a few deep breaths. Stop and go for a walk around the block. Stop and reflect on what is working in your life and what is not.
Is going on an expensive or exotic vacation the end goal? Or is it to spend time slowing down and being in the moment, either alone or with people that you love? Is that big promotion - the next step on the career ladder - all about status and money? Is it about getting what you think you should because everyone else is doing it? Will it make you truly happy or do you need to shift how you view your career and aspirations?
My Hawaiian vacation? If I am being honest, it was just as wonderful as our extended family vacation spent in Medicine Hat, Alberta last summer. And the one that we spent in Maple Ridge, BC the year before. All the ingredients were there: people who love each other, enjoying each other's company and truly appreciating the little ordinary moments in life.
P.S. For some additional inspiration...
Wednesday, 27 January 2016
It's Let's Talk Day in Canada. This is one day each year that Bell encourages Canadians to talk about mental health. It's a fabulous thing and it's also ridiculous. Let me explain...
This year I have seen discussion and debate on social media about the fact that a large corporation such as Bell is potentially gaining from hosting what some view as basically a publicity campaign. There is conversation around the fact that their intentions are not completely altruistic. OK. Yes, Bell may be gaining goodwill and all that that may encompass through this campaign but here's the thing: nobody else is encouraging conversation about this life and death topic on the scale that Bell is. And let's be clear about one thing - we are literally speaking about a life and death issue. People die from mental illness.
I am quite fine with the fact that Bell is going to receive some 'good energy' from this. Frankly, I think they deserve a pat on the back. The fact that Canadians are showing up in the thousands on Twitter and Facebook, having conversations around the water cooler at work and talking with their kids at home over the dinner table about mental health is a good thing. Period. You cannot convince me otherwise.
Here's how this day is also just ridiculous: we shouldn't need a designated day, a splashy campaign, or encouragement from celebrities and sports heroes in order to talk about mental health. It should not be heralded as brave for a person to say out loud that they have depression, an eating disorder or addiction. As Howie Mandel says in one of the Bell Let's Talk promos, a person should be able to say, "I need to leave early today for my psychologist's appointment" just as we would when we need to go to the dentist. It's ridiculous.
And that, folks, is why I welcome any opportunity that encourages Canadians to question their beliefs about mental health, to engage in dialogue, and to set aside the fear attached to admitting to having a mental illness. Until the time that we no longer require a special day, and I truly hope that comes sooner rather than later, let's talk.
Who will join me in this conversation today, tomorrow and beyond?
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