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Burnaby Division of Family Practice Compassion Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Growth Love Positive Change Positive Potential Purpose Relationships Self-care Wisdom Your Calling

Your Positive Potential: Notes from my keynote for Inspiration Day

inspiration-day

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020 was Inspiration Day at Century House in New Westminster. Gracious members of the audience requested my speaking notes. Here they are.

I began with a brief introduction to my Empowering Patients public education program sponsored by the Burnaby Division of Family Practice. The purpose of my series of workshops, videos, posters and key points handouts is to provide everyone in our community with unbiased health and wellness information essential to live healthy, happy lives.

With respect to the things within your control, the best predictor of your future health are the habits you practice today.

Real healthcare is self-care as it is individuals – not professional healthcare providers – who provide over 90% of their healthcare.

The four foundations of self-care are: 1. what you eat (what you put into your body); 2. what you do (physical activity and rest); 3. how you feel (emotional wellbeing), and 4. how you connect (healthy relationships).

These are all key topics of my Empowering Patients talks. The slides and handouts are available in addition to videos on the public website for the Burnaby Division of Family Practice. https://www.divisionsbc.ca/burnaby/for-patients/empowering-patients

Upcoming 2020 Health Talks

Everyone is welcome to attend these no-cost talks, however registration is required as space is limited.


March 12, 7:00 – 8:30 PM – ‘Emotional Wellness’
Brentwood Community Resource Centre, 2055 Rosser Avenue, Burnaby
CLICK HERE to register.


March 31, 7:00 – 8:30 PM‘The Positive Potential of our Relationships’
Bonsor Recreation Complex, 6550 Bonsor Avenue, Burnaby
CLICK HERE to register.


April 8, 7:00 – 8:30 PM ‘Healthy Eating’
McGill Public Library, 4595 Albert Street, Burnaby
CLICK HERE to register.


May 14, 6:00 – 6:45 PM – ‘Healthy Physical Activity’ & Walk With Your Doc
Confederation Seniors Centre (4585 Albert Street, Burnaby)
CLICK HERE to register.


For more information, check out all Empowering Patients materials.

THE POWER OF OUR STORIES

How we tell our stories affects how how we experience our lives.

HOW OUR STORIES CAN LIMIT US

The helplessness of the victim can feed anxiety.

If we can’t let go of anger, what we hold continues to harm us.

Remembering only loss and surrendering to hopelessness begets depression

With an attitude of entitlement, you will never be satisfied.

THE DEFAULT MODE NETWORK is the brain on autopilot creating stories. This typically happens when we are daydreaming, neither focussed on a specific task nor meditating. We can adopt unquestioned assumptions and core beliefs – many of them limiting beliefs, such as: “I have to be perfect to be loved.” “I can’t trust anyone.” “Life is unfair.” “I’m not good enough.” “I don’t deserve success, happiness or love.” “I am powerless.”

COGNITIVE BIASES are unconscious cognitive shortcuts with which we misinterpret reality. One such bias is the negativity bias. We notice more of what is wrong than what is right – with our partners, our situation and ourselves. To counter the negativity bias, we need to see (and hear) FIVE positives for every negative. This is a key principle for maintaining positivity in your most significant relationships and in creating a happy home for our children.

Actively see the positive in your life by the daily practice of gratitude. I start each day – before I even get out of bed, with a prayer of thankfulness for all the blessings in my life, beginning with the person lying next to me: my wife. This attitude primes the pump for noticing the positive aspects of all that I will see throughout the day. By days end, when I will reflect on the day with another prayer of thankfulness, my cup is overflowing.

I teach quality improvement to my physician colleagues to improve patient safety and health outcomes. When problems arise, we do a root cause analysis. This might include using the Five Whys. Ask at least 5 whys to get beyond the proximate or superficial causes of problems to get to the root cause.

I applied the Five Whys to every problem I could think of and found a single root cause for every problem in the world: a false sense of self.

We live with the illusion of separateness . . . and a life of competition.

There is the illusion of the Other . . . that engenders prejudice based on colour, gender, age, body shape, clothing, faith, language, accents and customs. The other may appear strange, different, less than, threatening or dangerous.

We went through an exercise in compassion to dissolve this false separation. I asked audience members to look at a person directly across the table from them. They were to look into each other’s eyes – not speak – but rather listen to these words. This person was once a baby, loves and held in the arms of parents . . .  just like you.

This person was once a child who laughed and cried, with big hopes and dreams . . . just like you.

This person has felt alone and sad, heartbroken and disappointed . . . just like you.

This person just wants to be happy . . . just like you.

This person needs to be loved . . . just like you.

The inescapable truth: you are not a separate, independent individual. You are a global citizen interdependent with every other person on this planet. Your wellbeing is dependent on the wellbeing of others.

We are all a part of a greater whole, members of a family, supported by a network of friends, neighbours and peers.

We are part of a community, citizens of this country and members of humankind, connected to all living things, a part of nature and this planet.

This is your true identity.

You belong here.

Another exercise to foster unconditional love. Imagine in front of you, one whom you love naturally and easily. Someone who always brings warmth to your heart and a smile to your face.

Say these words to them: May you be happy, healthy, peaceful and safe.

Now imagine someone you have had a disagreement with in the past week.

And say those same words: May you be happy, healthy, peaceful and safe.

The big problems of our society and the world will never be solved by people looking out for themselves. When we realize our interdependence and connection with the global community and all life on this planet, we will see the positive evolution of humanity and life on Earth.

It begins with us.

Together let us be the change we wish to see.

What is your story?

Engaging with Life and Coping with Change

The reality of change. Change is the nature of all things. It is our very nature. It is futile to pursue and cling to that which does not last. Nothing lasts.

We must appreciate what we have when we have it.

Every gift is not ours to hold forever. We must love and appreciate others while we can and let go when we need to. Accept what you cannot change. Accept responsibility to change what you can.

Be an Agent of Positive Change

Be dynamically response to change. Seek out the positive potential of each moment. Be responsive not reactive.

The Science of Neuroplasticity

Though our habits of thought and behaviour seem hardwired, with effort and repetition, we can transform our own minds. Donald Hebb, Canadian neuropsychologist said, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” this is how we can adapt to our changing world. You can retell your life story . . . and see beyond the illusion of a separate smaller self.

Evolving into Our Positive Potential

Discovering your potential in life. Your calling is the intersection of four circles: your passions, your talents, your values and the needs of the world.

Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” When you listen to life and rise up to meet the challenge, you will find meaning and purpose.

Heed the call which may change at different stages of your life. There is a potivie potential to be realized in each day. We must see, feel and act.

We are all a part of the Love Cycle. In our lives, we receive love in many forms. We give it forward. The giving of love does not diminish us but connects us and makes us stronger.

At the end of each day . . . and at the end of this life, you don’t want to regret having not given enough or loved enough. The greatest tragedy in life is that we may die not knowing how much we were loved.

Life is lived fully by loving without limit, giving all you’ve got and holding nothing back.

We are all human and imperfect but still deserving of love, beautiful and able to love.

You ARE good enough.

You ARE worthy of love.

You DESERVE to be happy.

You are BEAUTIFUL just as you are.

You belong here.

We are all interconnected in the Cycle of Love. When we realize our interdependence and connection with the global community and all life on this planet, we will see the positive evolution of humanity and life on Earth.

It begins with us.

We are part of a greater whole.

We are all Agents of Positive Change.

You are greater than you think. We can make a difference.

Together let us be the change we wish to see.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a physician and writer. 

Tapestry Talk

Categories
Compassion Growth Happiness Healthy Living Positive Change Positive Potential Purpose

Your Story and How You See Yourself: Implications for Personal (and Global) Wellbeing

 

Tapestry Talk

On Friday, April 7th, 2017 at 7 pm, I’ll be speaking at the Vancouver Convention Centre East, 999 Canada Place in Vancouver as part of the Tapestry Foundation for Health Care’s public presentation series. My topic: Going Beyond Old Stories – Exploring, Engaging and Evolving into Our Positive Potentials.

I’ll talk about exploring your personal story and the stories of others, engaging in the understanding and unfolding of your life story, and how our understanding of self, others and life can evolve as we transform our selves and our world towards our positive potentials. See more at http://www.tapestryfoundation.ca

One of the key determinants of physical and emotional health – and therefore, happiness itself – is our sense of belonging – our connection with our community.

Yet most of us go through our lives as distinctly separate individuals. Siblings compete with one another (as do spouses). We begin our lives in school focused on individual achievement (or failure). In sports, we compete with an “us versus them” mindset.

Competition spreads to every part of adult life. We compete for jobs to earn more and get ahead. We compete for our homes. We fight traffic in our daily commutes. What is traffic? Other people.

We compete as we compare ourselves with others, and we judge others – just as we know others are judging us – by the clothes we wear, the cars we drive and the symbolic prestige of particular mundane items of utility – phones, shoes, purses and watches.

When we follow this mainstream way of thinking, the natural conclusion is we all lose. By the end of this life, you will lose all you have gained. Everything you have built will one day be gone, and in a few generations, your name will be forgotten. What’s the point of it all?

How you tell your personal story – how you see yourself and how you relate to other people and the rest of the world – impacts your emotional wellbeing and your capacity for enduring happiness.

The inescapable truth is this: you are not a separate, independent individual; you are a global citizen interdependent with every other person on this planet. Your wellbeing is dependent on the wellbeing of others.

The “me against the world” and “us versus them” story disconnects us from others and dehumanizes them; they become objects in the way or objects to be used. In reality, we have more in common with every other being on this planet than we realize.

We each have hopes and dreams, pain and pleasure, joys and sorrows. We experience the same range of emotions and we are all subject to illness, misfortune, aging and death. We can unconsciously adopt maladaptive core beliefs and get stuck in narrowed points of view, yet we each have the capacity to change and grow.

This recognition can awaken compassion. We share our vulnerability, and we share our responsibility.

The big problems of our society and the world will never be solved by people – and countries – looking out for themselves. As long as we see one another as separate and competing individuals, we will continue to see abuse, crime, homelessness, hunger, terrorism and war.

When more of us realize our interdependence and connection with the global community and all life on this planet, we will see the positive evolution of humanity and life on Earth. It begins with you. Together let us be the change we wish to see.

On Friday, April 7th, 2017 at 7 pm, I’ll be speaking at the Vancouver Convention Centre East, 999 Canada Place in Vancouver as part of the Tapestry Foundation for Health Care’s public presentation series. My topic: Going Beyond Old Stories – Exploring, Engaging and Evolving into Our Positive Potentials.

I’ll talk about exploring your personal story and the stories of others, engaging in the understanding and unfolding of your life story, and how our understanding of self, others and life can evolve as we transform our selves and our world towards our positive potentials. See more at http://www.tapestryfoundation.ca

Categories
Happiness Positive Change Positive Potential Purpose Your Calling Your Goals

We All Need Inspiration

On Saturday, March 4th at 10 am, I am again honoured to celebrate Inspiration Day with Century House at 640 Eighth Street in the heart of New Westminster. Call (604) 519-1066 for advanced tickets. For only $6, you can enjoy a nice snack, a good laugh from the Laughter Zone 101 Senior Comics and a healthy dose of inspiration.

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We each need inspiration to move us through this life – to awaken from routine, meet life’s challenges and reach for our potentials.

Inspiration gives us vision – opening windows to new possibilities: what you can do with this life. It is a lens that transforms what we see in the mirror, in the face of another and our hope for the future.

It can give us courage – to persevere in the face of illness, misfortune, failure and loss; and to do what we know to be right.

What would life be without inspiration?

Imagine childhood without magic, families without love, working without meaning and living without passion.

We’d be diminished by age with each passing year, surrender to illness, be defeated by disability and leave this life with a whisper.

There would be no path to follow, no beacon to guide us, and no hope to climb higher. There would be no reason to find that little extra within our hearts and give more of our selves to the rest of the world.

On Saturday, March 4th at 10 am, I am again honoured to celebrate Inspiration Day with Century House at 640 Eighth Street in the heart of New Westminster. Call (604) 519-1066 for advanced tickets. For only $6, you can enjoy a nice snack, a good laugh from the Laughter Zone 101 Senior Comics and a healthy dose of inspiration.

Even if you can’t make it, treat yourself to one of the seven wellsprings of inspiration.

  1. Heroes. Growing up, my role models were Superman, Batman and Spider-Man. Superheroes and the bigger than life characters of mythology and our great religions reflect the human journey through life. Their stories reflect the challenges we face and the call to have courage, find our unique voices and do what is right.
  2. Models of Human Achievement. During my school days, I spent many hours at the McGill branch of the Burnaby Public Library inspired by the great figures of history who showed us what a human being can achieve. The words and actions of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi continue to inspire generations.
  3. Everyday Heroes. Heroes walk among us. They are the ordinary people like you and me who choose to do extraordinary things; they express courage and perseverance in the face of overwhelming adversity and perform selfless acts of generosity and compassion.
  4. The Inspiring People in Your Personal Life. My greatest inspiration remains my mother. Though she passed away nearly 14 years ago, she continues to set my standards for morality and compassion.

She was literate, outgoing and kind. She was the most thoughtful person I have ever known. She not only looked after the needs of our family but she would be concerned with the wellbeing of every person she knew. She always gave more than she got.

She was the most honest person I have ever met. If given extra change, she would walk a mile back to the grocery store. She would always do what she knew to be right.

My mother taught me the importance of family. At age nine, she and her siblings were orphaned, and with both parents gone, the children decided to work hard to keep the younger ones fed and clothed until they had all finished school.

My mother had faith in me when I did not. She looked after me and encouraged me as I battled with rheumatoid arthritis. She believed I could do great things if I persevered. My mom and dad gave me freedom to discover my own talents and supported me in nurturing them.

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My mom inspires me still with the selfless, unconditional love she gave me. It remains her legacy, and I aspire to give that same love forward to my own children and to evert human being I can touch.

  1. Those We Serve. My patients have made me a better doctor. Their trust and confidence in me inspired me to be the best physician I can be. My golden rule of medicine is to treat each patient with the care I would expect for my family. My children have taught me humility and what matters most in life. Becoming a parent inspired me to be the best person I can be.
  2. Your Calling. Joseph Campbell called this “following your bliss” and it is your gift to the world. Your calling is where your unique passions, talents and values intersect with the needs of the world.
  3. Love. Love, kindness, compassion and goodwill come in many forms. I measure success by how well I have loved others. At the end of the day and at the end of life, that’s all that really matters.
Categories
Emotions Empowering Healthcare Growth Happiness Healthy Living Positive Change Positive Potential Purpose Self-care Your Calling Your Goals

Your Happiness and the Value of Goals

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The stage of the musical, Frozen at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, California.

It’s the time of the year when I’ll be expecting patients coming in with new goals to improve their health. Many will be keen on starting a new exercise routine, eating a healthier diet, reducing alcohol or quitting smoking.

But for the rest of us, it will be business as usual. Most of the patients I care for will present one or more problems to be diagnosed, investigated or treated. These could be physical symptoms, relationship difficulties or challenges in their life circumstances.

Our brains are attuned to identifying problems. We see more of what’s wrong than what’s right. This negativity bias is part of our evolution. Our ancestors survived because they were able to detect problems and dangers early.

For most people today, our negativity bias is not such an advantage. In fact, it can lead to dissatisfaction and conflict in our relationships. Who wants to live with someone who can’t get anything right, and who can live with one who always finds fault?

Whereas appreciation and gratitude bring greater satisfaction and happiness, seeing the cup half full brings misery.

All of us want to be happy, but most of us look for it in the wrong places.

If your happiness depends on getting everything you want you may never find it or you won’t be able to keep it. The trick is to be happy with what you have and engaging with the world to achieve your positive potential.

In part, it is a way of being and seeing – being present and seeing with appreciation even that which does not last.

Consider the quick passage of the past year; life and all that we experience are fast and fleeting. Opportunities arise and pass away, and so do people, including our selves and those we love.

I love the work I do, helping my patients solve their problems, but my patients and I are most engaged when we turn those problems into goals. Problems can make us feel like helpless victims of life. When we transform them into our personal goals, instead of running from or struggling against what we don’t want, we move towards what we envision.

When a patient is struggling with anxiety, I may ask, “What is your goal? What does happiness look like to you?” “Is it seeing yourself managing and mastering the challenges of each day?” “Is it experiencing a sense of abiding peace and calm?”

When one is depressed, the goal may be to see one’s self and life with acceptance and gratitude, and to be engaged in meaningful activity.

Consider your values and your greatest virtues, and set your goals. Visualize with all your senses what success and happiness look like. Create a plan of action to get from here to there, and take at least one firm step each day in the direction of happiness.

As part of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients I’ll be presenting a free talk on “Emotional Wellbeing” at 7 pm on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017 at the Confederation Community Centre in North Burnaby. Everyone of any age is welcome to attend. Please preregister by calling Leona Cullen at (604) 807-2372 or e-mail lcullen@divisionsbc.ca.

 

 

Categories
Caregiving Love Medical Ethics patient-doctor relationship Positive Potential Purpose Relationships Your Calling Your Goals

Find your inspiration!

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To make the most of this life, we must make the most of each day.

What inspires you to rise out of bed each morning, do what needs to be done, pursue your goals and give the extra effort that makes a difference? What gets you through the in between times with a mountain range of challenges between you and your destination?

From an early age, I was hooked on reading. By grade 6, I had finished reading the World Book Encyclopedia and spent hours each week at the McGill Branch Public Library in North Burnaby. Like my mom, each week, I would borrow my limit of books.

I was inspired by Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence people and James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh. I learned much more from countless books, and my eyes opened to an expanding horizon of possibilities.

So enriched and moved by the writing of others, I imagined how wonderful it would be to help and inspire others with my own words some day.

For ten days in grade 6, I had a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis with rashes, fevers and painful joints. On Burnaby Hospital’s pediatric ward, I was cared for by my doctors and nurses who weren’t treating a disease but rather me as a whole person. I trusted them to do their best for me, and it was then that I decided to be a physician – to give forward the care that I had been given and to care for others when they are most in need.

An inspiration can get us started on a path, but what keeps us going?

We can be most inspired by those we serve. When I became a parent, the awesome responsibility of caring for a helpless baby, loving unconditionally and nurturing each of my children to their greatest potential was the greatest of callings.

I had to rise to this responsibility and strive to be my best to give my best. My children have made me a better person.

As a physician, I developed my golden rule of medicine: treat every patient with the same degree of care and consideration I would want for a best friend or family member. For any of my patients, I refer to the same colleagues and order the same tests in the same time frame that I would want for those in my personal life.

The needs of my patients have inspired me to be a better physician. I am inspired and supported by a few of my colleagues, including my classmate, Dr. John Law, who like me, commit to continuous quality improvement in their clinical skills and looking outside of the box, learn advanced techniques to meet the needs of our patients.

The most inspiring physicians learn from one another and from their patients.

In your personal life, whom do you serve? Look both inside and out of your own home, community and workplace. If there is a need, can you rise to meet it?

Each day presents us with infinite opportunities to make a difference big or small – to lift up the hearts of a few people and to live a meaningful life.

Celebrate Inspiration Day from 10:30 am to 1 pm on Saturday, February 6th at Century House at 620 Eight Street in New Westminster. I’ll be there to enjoy the entertainment of the Century House Singers and Comedians and give the keynote presentation. Admission is $5. Call (604) 519-1066 for more information.

Davidicus Wong is a family physician and his Healthwise columns appear regularly in the Burnaby Now, Royal City Record, Richmond News and Vancouver Courier. For more on achieving your positive potential in health, see his website at www.davidicuswong.wordpress.com.

Categories
Compassion Happiness Positive Potential Purpose Your Calling Your Goals

A Hundred Days to Happiness #26: The Call of This Day

Central Park, Burnaby
Central Park, Burnaby

In my last post, I wrote of the call to your life’s purpose as the intersection of your talents, your passions and the needs of the world. We often think of our life’s purpose as one overarching drive, and that often is the case.

But in our lives, we have different priorities and goals at each age. The needs of the young are not the same as the needs of our elders. That’s why parents can give advice to their adolescents, but the lessons aren’t fully learned without the experience of years. With the cycles of life, parents must be patient with their children just as their children may one day need to be patient with them.

Your calling as a child is to establish a sense of your self and your self-worth as a human being worthy of respect and love. You discover your talents, learning in school and from life. Your parents play a pivotal role in helping you establish your self-concept and your perspective on the world.

As a teen you have to cope with your emotions, your relationships with your peers and your role in society. You tread the line between independence and dependence on your parents.

In young adulthood, the focus may be on your career, making a living, establishing your own place and finding a significant other. As a parent, you are focussed on your children: the joys and challenges of parenting.

In midlife we look back at our lives, re-evaluate our goals and priorities. For some, it is a reaffirmation of our calling. For others, it can be an about face when we realize that we have not been true to our deepest values and passions.

The golden years is a time of looking back, taking stock of our lives and making sense of it all. It can be a time of generativity, giving to future generations, sharing what we have learned and accomplished over a lifetime.

But in every day of your life, there are many calls, and in an ordinary life, they are often missed. As you go about the busyness of your day, it is natural to miss the many opportunities to make a difference in your world and in particular, the lives of people around you.

I remember as a child shopping with my parents at a downtown department store. Maybe it was Woodward’s or The Bay. I had to go to the washroom . . . badly. I didn’t have a dime to get into a toilet stall. A kindly man noting my distress saved my day by giving me the dime that I needed.

Sometimes you can do something that may seem small to you but can make a big difference for someone else, but to do that small kindness requires a kind and open heart and the will to do what needs to be done.

You and I are capable of these small, significant acts each and every day. We just have to look for them.

So to answer the call – where your talents and passions meet the needs before you – does not have to wait for your work of a lifetime. You can answer the call every day, even many times throughout a day.

Your happiness exercise for today (and every day): Look for an opportunity to do what you can to help others in need, and answer the call by seizing that opportunity. You will discover that in the process, you will meet your own need to make a positive difference in our world.

Categories
Coping with Loss Easter Emotions Happiness Letting Go Love Purpose Relationships

A Hundred Days to Happiness #25: Moving forward from the wasteland

Wasteland or Beach? Davidicus Wong
Wasteland or Beach? Davidicus Wong

In his poem, The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot said, “April is the cruelest month.” The waste land refers to a state of spiritual desolation, a life without hope and meaning. It is a reference to the Grail legends, wherein the wounded king’s domain lies in ruins. It can also refer to modern times.

In a lifetime, we weather many storms. At times, sorrow rains, but at our core we remain dry. At others, joy shines upon us, yet we still cast shadows. In good times and in bad, there is a constant though sometimes imperceptible wind; what is this that can sustain us through the vagaries of life?

In 2003, April was indeed the cruelest month for me. The sudden death of my mother was a shock. Although I was fortunately old and wise enough to have already valued and nurtured my relationship with her, the loss struck with stark finality.   It seemed as if all was lost.

It is no coincidence that Easter is celebrated in early spring, when the sun shines longer and the cherry blossoms bloom. Life emerges from the dark, dead of winter. We are ready for renewal.

The cyclical changing of the seasons informs our perceptions of time and mortality. Change is inevitable, indeed constant. Death is an unavoidable part of life.

Although we recognize repeating patterns and relationships, we are caught up in a dynamic of change, always moving forward in time until we meet our own end. We and everything in our world are never exactly the same from moment to moment.

Many when confronted by inevitable change, struggle to cope. Some see their cup of life as half full; others, half empty. In the golden years, a few see that cup as chipped and nearly dry.

I choose to see through the illusion of the cup. My world is infinitely grand. It is filled not with a finite amount of water but rather an ocean. It is teeming with life, mystery and adventure. It is ever changing, yet nothing of value is completely lost; it is transformed.

We are buffeted by the waves and storms of life, but no matter how great the storm, we can enjoy calm waters a few metres below the surface. We must each nurture a central core of peace. It is an inner strength that can sustain us throughout the great and small changes of life.

The grail which can rescue each of us from the waste land is an abiding sense of purpose. It requires us to be open to shift perspectives, to calmly revisit our deepest values and goals. It is these that will serve as compasses as we find our way out of desolation.

Life is all about relationships. My relationship with my mother did not end with her passing. Her greatest values, her wisdom and her love are inseparable from my own character. I see her and her influence in my father, sister, brother and each of her grandchildren. I appreciate the continuity of the past, present and future.

The key to living more fully and consciously is to remember what matters most. In your interactions with others, recognize that the present represents yesterday’s dreams and tomorrow’s memories. Treat and cherish your loved ones accordingly.

Categories
Happiness Positive Change Positive Potential Purpose Your Calling

#24 Discovering your purpose in life

Sunset in La Puerta, Mexico by Nicole Kinnear
Sunset in La Puerta, Mexico by Nicole Kinnear

When I talk to my kids about their future careers, I know that what they decide to do with their lives will be shaped by their life experiences. Though they may have passion in a number of areas today, they will discover more of themselves as their lives unfold.

I draw for them three large circles analogous to the model used in the business classic, “From Good to Great”. In that book, Jim Collins asserted that great companies chose as their business the intersection of three great circles representing (1) what they did better than any other company, (2) what they were passionate about, and (3) the needs of the world.

I see potential in each of us, and when I look at my kids and talk to patients, both adolescents and adults at a crossroads in their lives, I draw them those three large circles.

The first circle represents your passions. What do you love to do? What would you be willing to do for free? What could you do for hours at a time and instead of feeling exhausted, you feel energized?

The second circle represents your talents. What do you do better than anyone else? What comes easiest to you? In what area of your life can you become great if you had the right training and put in enough practice?

The third circle represents the needs of the world. How can you use your talent and passion to meet the needs of others?

The intersection of these three circles – your passions, your talents and the needs of the world – is your calling – what you need to do. Your calling is not icing on the cake when the rest of your life is looked after. It is the purpose of your life. It is your gift to the world.

Your happiness exercise for the day: Try this exercise today. Take a blank piece of paper and draw three intersecting circles. In the first, write what you are passionate about. In the second, what you do better than anyone else (your friends and family may help you here). In the third, look for the needs of your world.

Categories
Emotions Happiness Letting Go Purpose Self-care stress management

A Hundred Days to Happiness #19: Three Key Emotional Health Skills

Whistler - Davidicus Wong
Whistler – Davidicus Wong

When considering health, most of us focus on physical wellbeing.

I see emotional wellness as a deep sense of meaning and purpose, an abiding sense of peace, the ability to manage the stress and transitions of life, awareness of your thoughts and feelings and the ability to manage them.

Your emotions matter.

Emotions influence your behaviour, your relationships and your thinking.

When we’re angry, we regress and aggress. We don’t think clearly or logically. We can’t see any other point of view but our own. An adult will act like a child, a 10-year-old like a toddler. A teenager . . . may still act like a teenager. We say and do things we may later regret.

When depressed, we withdraw; we think negatively about ourselves, others, our world and the future. Depression narrows our thinking and shades it black; we don’t recognize our positive options, and we may close ourselves off from the world.

When anxious, we freeze; we overestimate danger and challenge, and we underestimate our ability to cope. Anxiety holds us back from doing what we need to do, from moving forward, from reaching out, and from giving our best to the world.

You might see your emotions as products of genetics, physiology and luck. But it’s crucial to recognize your own resources and ability to cope with them. In fact, gaining mastery in key emotional health skills can bolster resilience to life’s challenges.

Three Key Emotional Health Skills

  1. A meditative practice. Prayer, yoga, formal meditation and mindfulness are all effective ways of calming the mind, centering thoughts and reflecting. By deliberately pausing, breathing and slowing your thoughts and actions, you become less reactive.

Begin each day with a prayer of thankfulness. Count your blessings before you even get out of bed. This can prime the pump to allow you to see the good that you have and your ability to make a positive difference in your life.

You’ll be more likely to see the positive throughout the day, and as each day unfolds, you may feel more empowered to seize opportunities to make a difference.

As you retire at the end of the day, reflect on the blessing of the day (how you helped others and how others helped you) and its lessons. You may not end the day any younger or richer but perhaps a little wiser and with memories of some positive experiences. What is the measure of your days?

  1. Choose your thoughts.

Thoughts are powerful.

If we don’t take care, they can provoke anxiety, fuel anger and prolong depression.

You can’t control the weather, traffic lights, the behaviour of others or luck, but you can choose your thoughts.

Cognitive therapy is one method of becoming aware of your thoughts, recognizing how they affect your mood or anxiety level, and gaining control over your emotions by choosing more efficacious thoughts.

The next time you feel angry, irritated, sad or anxious, reflect on the thoughts that may have triggered your emotions. Is there another way to look at the situation?

With time, you’ll gain facility in recognizing the underlying assumptions and beliefs behind unhealthy thinking.

  1. Turn your problems into goals.

Instead of replaying the past or ruminating on the negative, think about what you want.

When you are most relaxed, visualize yourself having achieved your goal, experiencing a sense of peace, and living a life rich with purpose and meaning. How do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear? Make it real!

If the effects of stress, anxiety, mood or other psychological symptoms are having a significant impact on your performance at school, work or at home; your relationships, your self-care or your enjoyment of life, see your family doctor. Your emotions are an important aspect of your health.

Categories
Compassion Empathy Happiness Love Parenting Positive Potential Purpose Uncategorized

#17 What makes your day?

A walk through Central Park, Burnaby
A walk through Central Park, Burnaby

What are the essentials of your day?

These are the things that make the difference between living fully and just living. At school or at work, are you just putting in time or having the time of your life? What makes the difference to you?

I’ve written of the three tasks I gave my kids each day as I dropped them off at school: learn something new, help someone else, and have fun. I trust their teachers in looking after the three R’s.

I emphasize the three L’s: learn, love and laugh.

At our family dinnertime (an essential of my day), each of us (mom and dad included) shares what we have learned, what kind or loving act we’ve done for someone else (as well as the great things others had done for us) and how we have had fun (What was the most enjoyable thing in our day?).

We share at least one good laugh a day (even if I have to make it at my own expense). I’m always struck by how thoughtful and kind people can be. Today, my patient brought freshly baked pudding for Chinese New Years.

I love to hear how they combine creativity with kindness, seizing an opportunity to do what they can to help someone else and make their day. That might be giving someone a hand at the moment it’s needed or just choosing the right words at the right time.

I’m glad that I have my kids to keep me accountable because it is so easy for grown-ups to forget about the three L’s. We sometimes forget that we ought to be lifelong learners and we keep on repeating the same mistakes year after year. We can get by with fewer expressions of love though we all could use more hugs, and it’s no surprise that adults have less fun and fewer laughs than most kids.

But it has a lot to do with how we look at our lives. When I drove my daughter to school one day, I reminded her how lucky she was to be a kid and to have so much fun every day.

“What do you mean?” she said. ” Grownups have a lot of fun! You get to drive real cars, you can go anywhere you want, and you can eat whatever you like.”

It’s funny how our children can teach me so much about love and laughter.

Your happiness exercise for the day:

  1. Make a list of the essentials of your day – the things that make your day and make you feel complete; the people, the activities and the experiences that bring you happiness.
  2. Before the day is over, make sure you check off every item on your list.

Have a happy day (and I really mean it)!