November 2022 Vol 4 Issue 11
Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):
Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Linguistic Communication
Let me teach you to tell your story!
Welcome Mid-November 2022!
|What a difference a day makes! November fourth was a beautifully crisp autumn day, followed by our first snowstorm of the season–on November fifth and sixth, which has stayed! Since transitions in seasons in Saskatchewan tend to be brief (or non-existent), I’ve been especially grateful for the frequent updates on weather conditions from Environment Canada!
Unseasonable cold caused many of us to break out our long-johns and parkas in the first week of this month, as I started to prepare this issue of “Tell Your Story Newsletter.”
Winter often feels like the cruellest season of the year in Saskatchewan, since it brings reduced daylight hours and at times brutal cold, wind and snowstorms. But it’s also a time when many professionals like you, good reader, dig deep and excel in your work, since the distractions of the outside world are minimized (unless you’re a winter enthusiast!).
If you can (like a neighbour of mine) already foresee “winter blues/blahs” coming, then I encourage you to keep reading–or, rather, to widen the topics of the books you’re already reading. My writerly colleagues (and friends) Julie Barnes and Ashleigh Mattern are regularly posting the books they’re devouring on Goodreads (aka “Facebook for writers”).
And what about music? Have you tuned into opera from “the Met” (Metropolitan Opera House) in New York, which is often broadcast at Cineplex theatres across the country? My ESL student in France has introduced me to the recordings of German tenor, Jonas Kaufmann, whose subtle voice would make anyone forget the breath of hoary-bearded, “Old Man Winter.”
Whether through books, music or other activities, I find the perfect antidote to prairie winters is to have more FUN!
FUN, you say? An absurd suggestion?
In Article One, this month, I visit science journalist Christine Price’s recent TEDTalk on the topic of FUN. While most of nature sleeps during winter, how can we feel fully alive? Price suggests that “fun” is the best answer.
Most of us enjoy some fun during winter, whether from hitting the ski trails or curling up by a crackling fire to read Alexander McCall-Smith or Louise Penney. But how do we go about having more fun, on a regular basis? Article One shares some hints on that.
And in “Storytellers’ Corner,” I visit a potentially troubling phrase that itself sounds fun-ny–“tuna fish“–in the words of our resident etymologist (and a man of humour), Bryan Garner.
Perhaps we can view the snowy and cold portion of winter as being like the influence of a schoolyard bully? We can work around his (or her) blasts of nasty wind and frigid air, by immersing ourselves in our own creative activities and exercise . . . .
I wish more FUN for you this winter, good reader, that even the coldest of winds and the heaviest snowfalls cannot dispel.
IN THIS ISSUE:
ARTICLE 1: “Do you know the secret to feeling alive?” On FUN and how to get it
STORYTELLERS’ CORNER: The case of “tuna fish” from American etymologist, Bryan Garner
Article One: “Do you know the secret to feeling alive?” Christine Price’s TEDTalk on FUN and how to get it
In her recent TEDTalk, science journalist Catherine Price observed something that should make us all pause: “It’s harder than we think it should be to actually feel alive.”
Consider that statement: We’re so busy constantly scrolling (and often “doing” things) that we have forgotten how to live! We forget that life is more than days filled with frenetic activity.
Price says: “We keep ourselves busy to the point of exhaustion. But we’re also languishing. We feel a little bit dead inside.” She thinks we’re living something close to despair, staying busy because we know that we are not truly living, but we simply don’t know what else to do about it.
Her answer? “Have more FUN!”
But what does that mean?
Our confusion over what actually constitutes “fun” arises from the “sloppy” way that we use the term: we often use it to describe what we do in our leisure time (e.g. “We had a fun weekend with my in-laws at the family cabin”), when the activity is often not enjoyable and may even be “a waste of time.”
Price gives as an example our scrolling through social media, which we assume is “fun,” but which she says can “make us feel bad about . . . everything.”
Even our best English language dictionaries have trouble defining the term “fun”: According to them, fun is “amusement or enjoyment, or lighthearted pleasure,” and refers to what children experience “in the play area.”
Fun seems to be, Price observes, “frivolous and optional.”
When she was working on a project, collecting stories about having “fun” from people all over the globe, they would “tell you about some of the most joyful and treasured memories of their lives.” That means that FUN is not simply “lighthearted pleasure, it’s not just for kids and it’s definitely not frivolous.”
Price suggests on the contrary that fun is “the secret [to] feeling alive.”
Clearly the term deserves a new, “more precise” definition!
Fun is a feeling, she asserts, not an activity, although when asked to describe “fun,” most people still list “dancing” or “skiing,” or “pickleball.”
Some “serendipity” (or downright chance) is involved in the word, since activities or events we expect to be fun often disappoint us, while those we don’t expect to enjoy can become “ridiculously fun.” Sound familiar?
Price says that it’s easy to identify someone who is having fun, because they look as if “they’re being illuminated from within.” True fun “produces [a] visceral sense of lightness and joy.” People can radiate fun.
From her interviews with dozens of people from diverse cultures, Price says that “three factors are consistently present” when we experience fun, yielding a much more accurate definition than what the OED or Webster’s tells us.
These three terms are “playfulness,” “connection” and “flow.” Where these experiences overlap (see the venn diagram, courtesy of Price), is the space of “true fun.”
“Playfulness,” she says, is not playing games or make-believe but “having a lighthearted attitude, of doing things for the sake of doing them and not caring too much about the outcome. Letting go of perfectionism.” Playfulness means not being defensive and “not taking ourselves too seriously.”
“Connection” refers to “the feeling of having a special, shared experience.” It is possible to be alone when this happens (and so to feel connected to oneself and/or to an activity), but most often, another person is involved—“even for introverts.”
“Flow” is a state where we’re so intensively engaged and focused on what we’re doing that “we can even lose track of time.” (e.g. “in the zone” as a musician or athlete).
Price argues that “it’s possible to be in flow and not [to] have fun, like if you’re arguing. But you cannot have fun if you’re not in flow,” she says.
Each of these three factors is enjoyable on its own. “But when we experience all three at once, something magical happens: we have fun.” And that “doesn’t just feel good, it is good for us.”
(i) Price says that fun is so beneficial that it “is not just the result of human thriving, it’s its cause.” For instance, fun is “energizing,” so that when people talk about such moments, “they glow: It’s like a fire has been lit inside of them and the energy and the warmth they give off is contagious.”
Whereas “so much of life drains us . . . fun fills us up.”
(ii) Fun requires us to be “present,” or in-the-moment, but doesn’t require meditation, yoga, etc. Apart from being present, there’s no other way that fun can arise.
(iii) Fun also unites us in a “really polarized world.” When we have fun with others, “we don’t see them as having different ethnicities or religions from ours. We connect with them as human beings.” She adds that such a connection is the first step whereby we can begin to solve the world’s problems.
(iv) “Fun also makes us healthier.” Isolation and loneliness can cause hormonal changes in our brains and bodies that increase the risk of disease. But when we have fun, we become “relaxed and more socially connected,” both of which are health-giving. So, Price argues, “having fun is a health intervention.”
(v) Finally, fun is “joyful.” While we read books or listen to favourite music, the truth is that “when we are in a moment of having fun, we are happy.” Price says this: The “secret of long-term happiness may be simply to have more everyday moments of fun.”
In order to have “more fun,” she says, we should do all we can to increase our everyday moments of playfulness, connection and flow.
Here are some ways:
(i) Reduce distractions in order to increase flow. Distractions disrupt flow. The chief source of distraction in 2022 is our smartphones. (Act accordingly!)
(ii) Increase connection by interacting more with other human beings in real life. This is easier and less scary than we (huddled over our phones) tend to fear.
Interaction starts by making eye contact with someone. “Say ‘Hello,’” Price advises. If that goes well, introduce yourself. From there, ask an interesting question (e.g. “What’s one thing that delighted you today?”)
(iii) Increase playfulness “by finding opportunities to rebel.” This doesn’t mean becoming a total iconoclast, but to show “playful deviance,” to “break the rules of responsible adulthood” and “give yourself permission to get a kick out of your own life.”
(iv) Finally, Price recommends that having fun should be a “priority.” Try to reproduce the circumstances (including other people’s presence) that have created fun for you in the past. Make some time in your schedule to have fun. “Treat fun as if it’s important, because it is,” she enthuses.
Fun brings “more creativity, more productivity, more resilience,” Price says. Fun can make us, as she claims, a better spouse, parent and friend.
Fun, she concludes, for anyone still puzzled by it, is “a distillation of life’s energy. And the more often we experience it, the more we will feel that we are actually alive.”
And now it’s your turn: do you agree with Price’s definition of fun and why it matters?
Please write in; I’d be delighted to hear from you!
|STORYTELLERS’ CORNER . . . .|
STORYTELLERS’ CORNER: Words, storis, riddles and articles on speaking, listening, writing and editing . . .
The case of “tuna fish” with American Etymologist, Bryan Garner
In his recent blog on modern English usage, American Etymologist Bryan Garner observed that the term ” ‘tuna fish’ is redundant (see last month’s issue that differentiates between “redundancy” and “tautology’) because “tuna” is always a fish. The issue surrounding whether to write “tuna” or “tuna fish,” he says, arose around 1914.
Garner cites three more recent examples of this use, including this one in Sports Illustrated (“Letter from the Publisher, July 9, 1984):
“If he had his way, he would rid the world of ‘tuna fish.’ What else can a tuna be? asks Anderson.”
But the term “tuna fish . . . denotes a useful nuance,” Garner observes. ” ‘Tuna fish‘ is the type of processed, canned fish that is commonly served in sandwiches, whereas tuna typically refers to fresher types, such as those found in seafood restaurants and sushi bars.
How’s that for a fishy example for this month’s usage tip?
Do you have an, idea, problem or joke involving any aspect of language or communications? Please share it with me; I’d be delighted to use it in an upcoming issue.
Special thanks this month to the very gifted business coach and facilitator, Deanna Litz, of “Powerful Nature Coaching & Consulting Inc.” In previous years, Deanna has coached me through Praxis’ startSMART, staySMART and digiSMART programs, and through her excellent private coaching program, as I pivoted in 2021 toward teaching English as a second language (ESL/EFL).
Deanna and her husband, Saskatchewan Polytechnic facilitator, Rick Cumbers, own and operate “Lazy Hounds Farm,” located in Marysburg, SK (near Humboldt), where, for over 110 years, Deanna and generations of her family before have been stewarding the land.
Why is this relevant? Because in a recent delivery, Deanna shared with me some of their farm’s tantalizingly flavourful tomatoes, succulent peppers and zesty garlic!
In fact, Deanna and Rick grow free-range, naturally grown fruit, vegetables and herbs, raised by earth- and bee-friendly methods, for humans (and when the wildlife and the couple’s three lazy hounds don’t beat them to the harvest).
You may already have eaten Deanna and Rick’s beautiful fruit, vegetables and spices without even knowing it.
Their food has been enjoyed by folk from all walks of life, from Saskatchewan’s premier to those needing a helping hand. Deanna and Rick supply produce for some of Saskatoon’s finest restaurants, caterers, regular folk, foodies and local food banks. Their produce will spoil you for mass-produced, grocery store crops!
To learn more about “Lazy Hounds Farm,” purchase some of this year’s bountiful pumpkin and garlic crops (still available), or to tap into 2023’s harvest, please email Deanna at this address:
Delivery to/within Saskatoon regularly and readily occurs.
Special thanks also go out this month to Lisa Focardi, Community Development Worker at Saskatoon’s Open Door Society (ODS). An Italian-Canadian immigrant, Lisa capably organizes (amongst many programs) the volunteer-led conversation circles, throughout the calendar year.
At Lisa’ s invitation, I offered an introductory presentation on “brain health” last week, pitched at a beginner level of English, and found newcomers from Europe and Asia all very interested in the topic.
Lisa’s organizational efforts and generosity with others makes sharing conversation skills with newcomers a great pleasure. Thank you, Lisa!
Are you a native speaker or are you otherwise fluent in English? Do you have 60-90 minutes (each week) to share your skills with others? Please drop me a line and I will connect you with Lisa, who is always glad to have more volunteers on board.
There are always new businesses, non-profits and entrepreneurial programs to promote.
Please write me to share your success stories!
I’m excited for what’s ahead in our entrepreneurial community.
But for now, this is a wrap for mid-November!
Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.
Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now help newcomers to Canada land better jobs and economic immigrants to secure contracts by improving their English skills; I help SMEs close more sales by communicating more effectively; and I help major companies tell their legacy stories.
After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!
Please visit my website for more information (www.storytellingcommunications.ca).
Published by www.storytellingcommunications.ca–Storytelling Communications – Copyright © 2022.