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10 TV Shows that Teach You Invaluable Lessons about Life

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10 TV Shows that Teach You Invaluable Lessons about Life

Most of my childhood consisted of watching sitcoms and eating ice cream. In fact, during times of trouble, I often hear the voice of James Avery (Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) before my own father’s, and my first memory of Ted Danson was behind a bar, not a police desk.

While the wisdom of the ‘80s and ‘90s lives on in our hearts, there is still a wealth of great life advice in more recent TV shows. Here are 10 shows that teach you invaluable lessons about life. Included are quotes that sum up a great philosophy learned from each television series.

1. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

“You can stand anything for 10 seconds… Then you just start on a new 10 seconds.”

Netflix’s favorite Indiana Mole Woman a.k.a. Kimmy (portrayed by Ellie Kemper) survived 15 years of imprisonment by the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm — yes, John Hamm) with her unending optimism and reliance on this quote. Kimmy retains her sanity by breaking down her daily struggles underground into manageable, ten-second bits. No matter if you’re turning a crank-operated generator or stuck on a horrible blind date, just take it “ten seconds at a time.”

2. Arrested Development

“She thinks I’m too critical. That’s another fault of hers.”

Lucille Bluth always tells it like it is. Any Arrested Development fan knows that she is no stranger to giving advice. Mother Bluth is brutally honest and knows she’s awesome – and so should you. Lucille has never once apologized for being herself. Put another olive in your martini, while perfecting your winky face, and celebrate you.

3. Friends

“She’s your lobster.”

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Besides the obvious lessons that we all need a solid group of friends in our life who accept us for you we are, one of the most touching lines in Friends is about find your lobster (a.k.a. the one you are meant to be with). So if you are still single at 30, don’t give up because your true love is out there. Note: After ten seasons, there are bound to be more examples, but so many episodes over the years means lots of content to go through. At least you can binge watch this on Netflix.

4. Grey’s Anatomy

“Just put one foot in front of the other. Just get through the day.”

Granted, this is probably the most generic piece of life advice there is, but that doesn’t make it any less true. No matter what kind of day you’re having, good or bad, tomorrow is a new one. Of course, these words seem to carry more weight when coming from a (TV) doctor.

5. Doctor Who

“There’s a considerable difference between courage and reckless stupidity.”

By all means, be brave. But before taking that stance whether physically or verbally—think it through!!

Bonus: “You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!”

Read! Never stop learning no matter how old or smart you get. Learning from other people’s mistakes, wisdom and experiences will be one of the best things you do for your life.

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6. Parks and Recreation

“Never half-ass two things, whole ass one thing.”

Ron Swanson is not only master of meat and mustache, but also the wisest individual in all of Pawnee, Indiana. This particular quoted gem is at the foundation of his character. When Ron starts something, he finishes it; moreover, he puts all his energy into completing a given task. Even though taking on multiple responsibilities will make you seem more valuable to those around you, for most people the quality of the work is diminished – unless you’re Leslie Knope.

Ron Swanson is proof that there is still a point to be made for quality over quantity. As is a common saying in sports, “Go hard or go home.”

Bonus: “Treat yo’ self.”

This is less of a quote and more of a holiday frame of mind. On October 13, 2011, Parks and Rec aired an episode in which Donna and Tom spent the day “treating themselves” with lots of clothes, jewelry and food. Let’s face it, the stress work is unavoidable and sometimes you need a pick me up to get you through the day. Everyone “treats themselves” differently; some take days off, others buy things. Whatever you do, the point is to realize there are more important things in life than your job and to relax once in a while.

7. Smallville

“Clark, you’re so focused on what’s ahead that you’re starting to cut out the parts of your past that made you who you are.”

Martha Kent, adopted mother of Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman, is another example of the important role supporting (non-super-powered) characters play in any superhero TV show or movie. Characters like Alfred in Batman and Uncle Ben Parker Spider-man serve as the connection to the “normal” world for their respective heroes.

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In addition to keeping them grounded, these individuals act as a support system. They are often the people the heroes treasure the most and are fighting to protect. The mere presence of Martha, Chloe and others like them are proof we are nothing without our friends and family.

In regards to the quote itself, planning for the future is a great practice, but it often results in tunnel-vision. Imagine the life of almost every famous actor, athlete or musician: humble beginnings, a brush with fame, followed by a whirlwind of drugs and overindulgence in the finer things, ending with rehab and a reality show. I don’t think Martha was referring to the price of fame, but rather to the larger point of holding fast to one’s foundational beliefs.

When we are given a new challenge, our first instinct is to “rise to the occasion.” Oftentimes, our core values are twisted to justify certain actions in order to meet a particular end, especially if it is through questionable means. Martha reminds us never to forget where we came from and be true to ourselves, because everyone has battles to fight – not just superheroes.

8. New Girl

“You can run away from your problems, but you’re just going to find new ones that pop up.”

Living is not for the weak.  The fact is life is hard and, more often than not, things will not go your way. Problems are daily, mostly unavoidable occurrences that need to be resolved. Unfortunately, running away from issues doesn’t make them go away. If anything, it makes them worse.  You can catch New Girl on FOX.

9. Game of Thrones

“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.”

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

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No one is perfect. We all have are flaws and downfalls, but it’s what we do with those flaws and our attitude towards them that will make us into who we are. Tyrion is my favorite character; not just because of his witty comments, but also because he owns who he is. So if you are trying to be someone else, stop it. Just be yourself and embrace your flaws and use them to your advantage.

10. The IT Crowd

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

Obviously, this isn’t the best advice … or is it? Restarting your computer will fix 99% of day-to-day computing issues and save you hours of time in the process. Seriously, when in doubt, restart.

You might recognize Chris O’Dowd from his roles in Bridesmaids and Dinner for Shmucks, but his breakout role was as Roy Trenneman on the BBC series The IT Crowd, a workplace comedy focused around the IT department at Reynholm Industries.

Featured photo credit: Global Panorama via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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