10 CC’s of Happiness- Stat!

happiness

I’ve been thinking about happiness a lot lately. It might seem a bit odd to be talking about happiness in a blog that sometimes deals directly to living with cancer. Ridiculous even. Point taken. Living with cancer can be one of the biggest challenges we face over the course of our lives, so where  does happiness fit in? Well, I had cancer a few years ago now and one thing I noticed during all of the tests and treatments and time for recovery was that life goes on for us and those we care about. The journey is often a marathon and not a sprint. So, if we can help ourselves find even small moments of happiness or even an afternoon of feeling good on this journey, we deserve it! The big question of course is “How?” How can we squeeze a bit of happiness out of this strange time of our lives? Heck maybe ‘Happiness” is too big a goal, maybe just “feeling a bit better” is a more reachable target. Either way, there are very simple things we can do to help make it happen.

#1 Spend some time in nature.

Spending time in nature has been shown to improve our mood quite dramatically. In a major study, Trent University Researcher Dr. Elizabeth Nisbet, found that people who spent time in nature on a regular basis felt much happier and as a bonus watched less TV. Do you have to do something dramatic like white water rafting or fly through the air in one of those squirrel suits? No! Just spending some time in a park or ravine or on a nature trail will do just fine.

#2 Write down a list of things that you are thankful for.

Keeping a gratitude Journal or even making a list of things that you are thankful for can have a very significant impact on how you feel. Again, you might have to dig a bit deeper considering the circumstances, but if you start small you might end up with a pretty good list. For instance when I make a gratitude list my most recent cup of coffee is usually the first item and then I go from there. At the University of California at Davis, psychologist Robert Emmons found that having a gratitude journal helped improve the mood of participants as well as increased their tolerance to pain. Isn’t that something? So what are you thankful for? Coffee? Lunch? The latest episode of Game of Thrones?

3: Your Favourite Music.

Can you remember your favorite song right now? The song that gets you completely cranked up, can pull you out of a dark mood and make you dance like a maniac even if you’re doing your taxes?  Me too. In fact, I remember being 13 years old at the top of a ski hill that I was terrified of and listening to Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” in my head to get the courage to ski down.

Once again the benefits of music are backed up by science. Music can be a very wonderful tool in helping us to feel happier in our daily lives, moment to moment.

In an article published in The Huffington Post called “The Happiness Habits of Exuberant Human Beings” they state that

“Over a three month period, researchers from the Group Health Research Institute found that patients who simply listened to music had the same decreased anxiety symptoms as those who got 10 one hour-long massages.

So, feeling a bit down? Play your favourite song or if you’re really ambitious create a playlist of tunes that makes you feel good and you’re well on your way to having a tool that is scientifically proven to help you feel better.

We often think about finding happiness as one of those things that might be impossible especially when going through one of life’s greatest challenges, but by using even the simplest of techniques (that are backed up by science!) we can just maybe make this journey a bit easier and feel a bit better along the way.

New Podcast. How To Ask for What You Need

Once again my awesome friend Deb Kimmett and I have come up with a podcast to help folks with this whole “being a patient” thing. We often go through our whole lives trying really hard to be strong and incredibly self reliant. Well, when we (or someone we love) is sick, sometimes it is really important to ask for help! Yes. Ask for help. It might not be in your nature to even think about asking for assistance if you’re having a hard time, but really, think about it. You are probably a generous awesome person who has helped a ton of people in your life without even being aware of it. If that’s the case (and I’m guessing it is) its totally OK to ask for help when the chips are down.

If you had a really good friend or family member who was having a tough time, wouldn’t you want to help them? Of course you would! (Unless, you’re a dick, which you’re not). So, go ahead, let the folks you care about know that you could use a hand. Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Straight on “till Morning.

Hawke out.

 

The Hamilton Family Health Team Rocks!

The Hamilton Family Health Team has been doing amazing work and I am very excited to be speaking at their Annual General Meeting on Wednesday June 10th. Can’t wait to meet everyone I have been hearing so much about. Let’s explore the Wisdom in the Room and have a blast!

Speaking For National Cancer Survivorship Day

It is an honour to be speaking at National Cancer Survivorship Day at Princess Margaret Hospital.  We will be exploring Emotional Wellness, what it means, how it can help us and how we can get it. NCSD is always a blast at Princess Margaret. I’ll be doing my class “A Spoonful Of Laughter as well as wrapping up the entire event with a half hour of inspiring and pissed off cancer comedy. Hope to see you there.

For More info, hit these great logos.

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Facebook Group for The Hope For Today Cafe!

Hey Everyone, we just created a Facebook group for The Hope For Today Cafe. If you’d like to contribute, comment or even post a picture of your cat rollerblading,  Deb and I would love it!  Its right here..

https://www.facebook.com/groups/589882971154775/

OK, I thought there’s be a cool graphic or something but there’s just a link, wait a second, let me try this…

Facebook Group!!

 There. I feel better.

The Hope For Today Cafe

FullSizeRender (4)Here it is, the official release of The Hope For Today Cafe. My good friend Deborah Kimmet and I put our comedic heads together and came up with a podcast that offers a bit of Hope and Humour for people going through cancer. If you or someone you know is going through a tough time then we made the Hope For Today Cafe for you.

We are going to bring you funny, insightful content that is meant for folks gong through a tough time in their lives.

Its really strange being on a cancer journey.  Sometimes you feel so alone, even if you have great support from family and friends (like I did-thanks family and friends!). The ironic think is even though we feel alone on our journey, there are so many people who are facing similar circumstances and similar challenges. So, Deb and I thought,  “Wait a second! why don’t we create content that is funny and actually deals with the issues that people go through on a journey with cancer? What if we did stuff for caregivers?  What if we ate more steak?”

(OK, that last bit is mine)

We had several cups of coffee, began recording and now we have the first episode of our podcast ready to go. we’d love for you to give it a listen and heck even comment on it. Let us know what you think! Want to hear us cover a topic?  Let us know!

Full steam ahead. Straight on ’till morning.

Kaboom! Let’s Hear it!

You and The Hope for Today Cafe

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Have you ever started a project and been really excited about it? Sure you have! Sometimes the stars align and you think, OK, this is going to be good. Well, that is what’s happening for The Hope for Today Café.

My friend Deborah Kimmett and I have started work on a podcast that we think is great. I don’t want to over sell it but I think its going to be the best thing that anyone has ever done ever. (Sorry, I was just channeling Kanye West for a second) We’re going to bring you a bit of hope and humour to help get you through the day.

Let’s face it, If you’re a human (and I’m guessing you are) you may on occasion go through a tough time in your life. Some of you may be saying “Ya, of course Rob, that’s part of the deal”. Well, we are going to do a show based on the idea that we all face a challenge now and then and when we do, it can help a lot to get a boost from a couple of friends. That’s where The Hope for Today Café comes in. Once a week we’ll bring you short episodes packed with energy, hope and discussion about issues that face people going through health challenges and their care givers. We’re going to have shout outs to listeners, special guests and a ton of witty banter to lighten your day.

In fact, we’re already recorded a few and it was so much fun we figured we had to share it with you.

We’re looking forward to your feedback when our first episodes roll out. There is a huge community of courageous people out there and we want to serve you.

Let’s face it, we’re all in this together. We might as well try to help make the journey a bit easier.

Want a sneak peek? You can follow us on Sound Cloud here! The Hope For Today Cafe

Adventures In The Hope Workshop

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I am standing in front of a group of people who are at various stages of dealing with cancer. We have come together for something called “The Hope Workshop” and because this was the first time I had presented it, I was more than a bit nervous. No one was laughing at my jokes and if I tried, I could probably hear crickets.

Everyone looks really serious and concerned.

They listen as I talk about what is going to happen. How we are going to laugh, how we are going to share “the wisdom in the room”, how we are going to do exercises to help us feel good. It feels a bit like the atmosphere on the first day of school and I must admit that I am a bit nervous and excited. The Hope Workshop has begun.

The next two and a half hours fly by, if you have ever been on stage in front of an audience or ridden a bike at high speed or heck, done anything that is truly engaging; then you know what it’s like to give yourself to something in the moment and just run with it. That’s what it’s like in The Hope Workshop. A group of people come together and very quickly become comfortable with each other. Complete strangers laugh, share stories and share vulnerability.

Quicker than I think possible this disparate bunch has become a group of friends that is eager to help each other. Suggestions come fast and furious and I try to capture them all with an old school sharpie on a flipchart. People are eager to share what they have learned on their “journey with cancer”.

Before I know it, the group leaps ahead of me  and tackles issues I didn’t even know were on the table. I try to look like a calm workshop leader as someone shares an insight on a challenge that very few of us have faced. I am in awe of the life changing collaboration that’s happening right in front of me.

At the end of the night, folks tell me that they feel happier, lighter, that they even learned something. They thank me, which feels a bit odd because quite frankly, they helped each other with
their insights, courage, and bravery.

Writing Is Better for You Than You Think

that_thing_you_are_writing_is_awesomeThe timer on my phone is set to 4 minutes. “OK everybody, go!” A group of folks start scribbling in old school notebooks. We are writing something pretty simple. In fact, I had asked, “What is something terrific that happened this week? People actually smile as they write. This might not be what they expected when they joined a cancer support group called “Write For Your Life”. It wasn’t what I expected either. As they hit the three minute mark, I remember my first experience with therapeutic writing. I sat down at a Starbucks, put a notebook on one of their tiny round tables and was pressing so hard with my pen through the paper that I was sure I was engraving my thoughts on the unsuspecting wooden surface. It seems the wooden laminate wasn’t ready for how angry I was at being sick. I had written things like “Why did I get cancer? What am I going to do now? How am I going to pay my bills after surgery?” That was a pretty tough day. I certainly didn’t leave the coffee shop with any easy answers, but I did feel a bit better. It turns out, that wasn’t a coincidence. My friend Eugene Nam explained to me that Therapeutic Writing has benefits that would make any drug company jealous. Writing and journaling when you’re sick has been proven to (believe it or not) lower blood pressure, alleviate depression, reduce stress-and get this-reduce the length of hospital stays.

I say “Two Minutes” to the group. They write a bit faster. I noticed something else that happens as well. When we write in a group we give people the option of sharing what they have come up with. People tell bits of their story and we all learn from everyone’s experience. At times we have all doubled over in laughter when someone talks about something ridiculous that happened or listen intently while a member shares a particularly tough challenge.

My timer rolls past one minute. People scribble even faster, trying to put the finishing touches on their short piece. “Remember, it’s OK if it’s not perfect, it’s your story and however you tell it, is just fine.”

My phone chimes.

“Ok Everybody, times up. Does anyone want to read their piece?”

I have no idea what’s going to happen next.

Here’s some fancy research on how great Therapeutic Writing is…

Writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health, in non-clinical and clinical populations. (Pennebaker & Beall, 1986)

In clinical populations, a meta-analysis (Frisina et al, 2004) of nine expressive writing studies found a significant benefit for health.

Expressive writing about one’s breast cancer, breast cancer trauma and facts related to breast cancer, significantly improved and physical and psychological health, such as the quality-of-life (Craft, Davis, & Paulson, 2012; Henry et al. 2010)

Testicular cancer survivor participants assigned to the positive expressive writing showed significant improvements in physical and psychological health (Pauley, Morman, & Floyd, 2011)