The pursuit of happiness

Do you live with discontent? Are you waiting for happiness to find you? You may be waiting a very long time! Happiness doesn’t just arrive at the front door and let itself in, it’s something that has to be cultivated.  In fact, science is telling us more and more about what it takes to be happy — and most of it relates to our personalities and to our thoughts and behaviours — two things that can be altered.

Contrary to what many believe, those who are wealthy, stress-free, or beautiful, are not actually happier than those who don’t have these things. Rather, those who are happiest seem to have the following in common:

  • They spend time with family and friends
  • They practice gratitude
  • They are optimistic
  • They feel a sense of purpose
  • The live in the present – a form of mindfulness

Happiness then, is something we can all practice. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Invest in meaningful relationships:
    Surround yourself with optimistic and happy people allowing their positivity to boost your own. Then, slowly begin sharing your own optimism and contentment with others. Good friends and cherished family members are in their own right worth celebrating, so invest in and care for these relationship and let people know that you appreciate them through kind words and actions.
  2. Practice gratitude:
    Gratitude is about more than saying thank you. It’s about recognizing good fortune as it happens in daily life. To learn more, click here.  Begin by identifying and giving thanks for at least one thing every day. A visit from a friend, someone who held the door when you were burdened with shopping bags, or a hug from a co-worker, are just some examples. Fall asleep grateful and awaken to the same thought each morning.
  3. Be optimistic:
    Try to see things through an optimistic lens. If you’re not an optimist by nature, begin by recognizing negative thoughts as you have them and trying to view them differently — or try dealing just with the facts, instead of the “what-ifs”.
  4. Find your purpose:
    Those with a goal or mission in life are happier than those without. Having a goal provides us with a sense of purpose, increases our self-esteem, and unites us with others who share our pursuit. If you’re not engaged in something that brings purpose to your life, consider the causes that excite you, the areas where you’ve achieved success, and the legacy you want to leave.
  5. Live in the present:
    Celebrate the small pleasures of everyday life. Focus on the positives of the present instead of dwelling on the past or stressing about what’s to come.
  6. Exercise:
    You don’t need to run marathons, but you do need to make time to be active every single day. Exercise is a proven stress-buster and benefits not only our physical health, but our mental health too. Go for a brisk walk or run to leave pessimism or a bad mood behind.
  7. Let it go:
    If you’ve been carrying a grudge or holding onto anger, you need to let it go. Can’t do it on your own? Get help so that you can release yourself from the burden and find optimism, happiness, and freedom.

Feeling stressed? Develop a toolbox of self-help strategies

Stress affects us all. It’s a normal response when we feel threatened… whether the threat is perceived or real. This response is actually designed to prepare us for action to get us out of danger (i.e. oncoming car) only the threats we face most often, aren’t things we can actually run away from (work, family issues, illness, etc). It may be hard to believe, but a little stress can actually be a good thing, motivating us to take action, solve problems, and get things done.

When stress is counter productive however, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Many people find it a challenge to concentrate or make decisions, and some experience the physical side effects of stress: a racing heart, sweating, and muscle tension.

Happily, there things we can all do to minimize and cope with stress.

  1. Identify the problem. Once once know what the problem is, can you do something about it.
  2. Solve problems as they arise. Consider solutions to your problems and the resulting outcomes. Once you’ve decided on your course of action, break down the steps and tackle just one at a time.
  3. Share your stress. Expressing your feelings can help lift your burden and having someone who will listen patiently is essential.  Can you talk to a family member or close friend? If not, ask your physician for a referral to a professional counsellor.
  4. Keep it simple. We often feel stressed when we have too much on our plates. Sometimes this means saying ‘no’ and making a concerted effort to simplify our schedules.
  5. Live mindfully. Being mindful is about being present. Let go of the past, focus on the present moment, and don’t allow what lies ahead to burden you.
  6. Learn about stress management. Understanding stress can help you identify it, understand it, prevent it, and manage it. Consider reading books, visiting trusted websites, or asking your doctor for more information.
  7. Help yourself. Activities like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and diaphragmatic breathing can help quiet the mind and lessen the body’s response to stress.
  8. Get moving. Exercise is great way to reduce stress and improve your mood. Learn more.
  9. Have more fun. Make time for the activities you enjoy – time with friends or family, exercise, hobbies.

Remember that stress is part of being human—you can’t do away with it altogether. Learning to identify and cope with stress however, can help you manage stressful periods and events as they arise. Practice stress management techniques even when you’re not feeling stressed and you’ll have well-developed tools in your toolbox you can reach for when needed.

Is it time for a digital detox?

You know putting your device down, leaving it behind, or even turning it off more often, would do you good — and if you’re among a growing group of Canadians feeling you’re rarely wholly present in the moment, it’s high time you did.

Seven ‘smart’ ways to a digital detox:

  1. Take weekends off! Shut down your computer after work on Fridays, take a break from your social media platforms, and turn off your phone. Pledge to be wholly present on weekends — with your partner and kids, with friends, and as you go about life.
  2. Swap out phone time for something you enjoy more — lunch and shopping with a friend, a fun fitness class, crafts with your kids, or getting outdoors with your partner.
  3. Take a good look around and see what you’re missing. When you’re glued to your phone or computer, you miss out on small moments in relationships, in nature, and in life, that you’ll never get back. There are no do-overs – so power down and engage in what’s real, and what’s happening NOW.
  4. The average North American checks their phone 46 times a day. If you’re among this group, you need to cut back… way back. Cut back to half this number immediately and a week later, allow yourself just three to six ‘check-in’ times a day, limiting each to the shortest amount of time possible.
  5. Turn it off — or leave it behind. If you’re unable to stop yourself from picking up your device and checking in regularly, it’s time to get tough. Turn it off and stow it somewhere that’s harder to access, or leave it at behind altogether.
  6. Don’t take your phone to bed. A recent survey found that over 70% of adults have a smartphone, tablet, or computer in their bedrooms and that close to half keep them on. Talk about temptation — and a sure-fire way to sabotage a good night’s sleep. Get an old-fashioned alarm clock and set it for your walk up call.
  7. Consider a digital babysitter — apps like Freedom, SelfControl, and Digital Detach can help you gain control over your digital habits and in extreme cases, give you your life back.

Think about all the moments you’ve lost out on, the meaningful conversations with your kids you might have had, and the time days, weeks, months, and years, where you’ve hardly noticed the seasons change. Life is short. Pledge to get more from it.

See my original post for DeerFields Clinic.

5 Tips for more earned media

A marketing communications and business professional with over 23 years of experience, I can speak to the value and the credibility of earned media. As a result of the often deafening noise within social media platforms, smart businesses, brands, and organizations are turning to more traditional media methods. At CAMERON Communications, we love earning media for clients — when we do, it enables us to amplify it or “splash it” across their “owned” media platforms, namely their website and social channels, further amplifying messaging, increasing engagement and building relationships, and keeping their brand front and centre longer.

Earned media acts much like an endorsement, and little peaks interest or drives sales the way third-party acclaim does. Some of our clients charge individuals or even entire teams with the task of drumming up earned media. To simplify this often onerous task and to increase the odds of media uptake, today we’re sharing five tips:

1. Know who you’re dealing with. Reporters typically receive hundreds of press releases and pitches a day — know what it is they cover and ensure you’re familiar with their beat and work.

2. Help reporters deliver what their audience seek. Pitch story ideas you know will be a hit with the audiences they write for. Every reporter wants a story readers will share online. Sorry to break it to you, but it’s about the reporter and their needs, not yours.

3. Send a story to address a need. What’s newsworthy now? As an example, in late December and early January, sure as guns, there’s an overwhelming interest in and demand for health, fitness, and lifestyle content as readers set and strive to meet New Year’s resolutions. In response to this particular hunger, one might offer content to address the fervent demand and better yet, serve it up in a list format, with bite-sized blurbs that are easily read and digested.  Working with health and lifestyle clients as we do requires that we establish relationships with related reporters, are familiar with their editorial styles, and read their work.

4. Carefully craft your subject line. Clever. Simple. Brief. Your email or DM subject line (which should be mobile friendly too) needs to grab the attention of the reporter you are contacting.

5. Keep your pitch brief. In your brief, clearly explain why your story is relevant to them and their readers. Strive to make a connection. In establishing relationships with reporters, I/we often reach out to those whose work we follow, simply to let them know that we’ve read/enjoyed/found their work thought-provoking, etc. You want to build genuine and meaningful relationships with all those you interact with — and reporters are no different.

Welcome to our newest client: the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation

CAMERON Communications is delighted to welcome our newest client!

The Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation is reinventing the way that we grow older.

The Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI) at Baycrest Health Sciences is a unique collaboration of health care, science, industry, not-for-profit and government partners whose aim is to help older adults age safely in the setting of their choice for as long as possible.