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10 Things You Should Avoid On The Road To Pursuing Happiness

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10 Things You Should Avoid On The Road To Pursuing Happiness

We all define happiness differently, because we all live our own lives and we experience our own set of situations. However, there are certain facts about happiness that we can all relate to, no matter how differently we live our lives and no matter what we have experienced. Here’s a secret. Happiness is not about doing anything special, but more about choosing what not to do. Here are 10 things you should avoid on the road to pursuing happiness.

1. Too many expectations

Sure, we all have expectations. We wish that everything will always work the way we plan them to be. But the truth is, things will not always be the way we expect them to be. We can’t expect everyone to want to do things as we do. Each person’s experience and way of dealing with things is unique, so to expect others to do things the way we do is unfair to them. When we have too many expectations, we are not going to be able to work with others, because it will often cause conflict with others, and that will only give us more trouble than a peace of mind. If we can put our expectations aside, allow things to be what they are, and become what they need to be, we will be so much happier.

2. Comparing ourselves with others

We all know people who often evaluate their happiness by comparing themselves with others. They compare their income, their possessions, their status, their intelligence, their appearances, their success and so on. Jealousy is the thief of joy.

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The truth is, there is no end to the comparison game. No matter who we compare ourselves to, there will always be someone out there who are better at doing what we did. Comparison puts our focus on the wrong thing and person. When we constantly compare ourselves to others, we are actually wasting our time and energy focusing on other peoples’ lives, rather than our own. Understand that we were not born to live other peoples’ lives. We can learn to enjoy what we are, rather than regretting what we aren’t.

3. Toxic people

Negative people are good at telling us what we are not capable of becoming, while influencing us to believe that what they say is true. They will not only drag our energy down, but also crush our dream by constantly reminding us of how impossible it is to get to where we want to be. Surrounding ourselves with these people will sabotage our happiness.

We can always choose who we want to spend our time with. We can spend our time with positive people who talks about ideas, who are willing to exchange information and who can provide us with useful knowledge. By choosing who we spend our time with wisely, we can gain so much wisdom which we can use to improve ourselves. Self-improvement plays a crucial part of our happiness, as we will find a better life’s purpose through the process.

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4. Holding grudges

People often carry on grudges while having moral battles with the one who has done them wrong, casting themselves as the righteous and the other person in the wrong. What they don’t realize is that they waste too much energy on it, and eventually put themselves into a darker side of the situation. Whatever damage that the person causes cannot be undone, therefore holding on to it is only going to gradually damage you. One of the keys to true happiness is forgiveness. Letting go is the key to true healing, and that is where true happiness eventually emerges.

5. Self importance

Self importance is a product of fear. People who believe in self importance are afraid of losing their ego over anything else. They view themselves as an extremely important person, and expect everyone around them to put them as a priority in any situation. These behaviors will eventually damage their relationship with the people around them, and leads to an isolated life, since people will try to stay away from them. If we all learn to have gratitude towards the people around us, we will learn that what and who we are today are somewhat influenced by them. We will learn to appreciate the people and things we have, and live a much happier life.

6. Suppressing emotions

Holding back on our emotions might lead to depression. We might think that showing our emotions would make us vulnerable, but the truth is, a truly strong person is able to show all their emotions because they are not afraid to acknowledge that they are only human, and that is is absolutely okay to feel. When we are open to our emotions, and are honest about them, we are setting ourselves free from the heavy emotional burden that are otherwise buried inside of us. A truly happy person allows themselves to feel every emotion and appreciate being alive. We have to experience all emotions in order for us to appreciate happiness.

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7. Worrying too much over the future

There are many other ways to secure our future than to be worrying over it. It is so important to value each moment of our lives since we only live once. To worry over the future takes away our precious moments, because we are too distracted to enjoy living the here and now. We can set goals and be productive to secure our future. Enjoying the here and now contributes so much to our happiness as it ensures that we don’t miss out on our little happy moments that accumulated to a fulfilling life.

8. Putting others down

Some people think that putting others down will boost themselves up. There is a saying that blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make your’s shine any brighter. People criticize and put others down so they can have the feeling of superiority, so they can hide their own insecurities. Judging others don’t define who they are, it only defines who we really are. Strong people don’t put others down, instead they lift them up. Instead of putting people down, we should inspire somebody, improve somebody else’s life for the better, and make someone smile.

9. Blaming

To blame our faults on someone else is a fairly convenient way to get away from trouble. But what we don’t know, is that when we put the responsibility on someone else, we are actually putting ourselves at risk of not having the control over our situation. We become the victim of our circumstances, since we are not able to manage our situation because we are not in control.

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We also lose the opportunity to learn from our problem and grow from it. When we stop blaming others, we begin to discover who we truly are. We will find peace within ourselves when we realize that our happiness are entirely our own responsibility. When we learn to overcome our problems with courage, we will find ourselves in a much peaceful, fulfilling and happier life.

10. Rushing

It is important to know that we are the ones who create the time pressure for ourselves. It might seem like we are often running out of time, but the truth is, if we manage our time efficiently, there is always enough time in the day. What we can do is to set priority to things that matter more over things that are less important to us. We can’t have all the time in the world, and we can’t do everything we want to do at the same time. But we can manage our time, set priorities, and try to get the other things done when we have the time and opportunity to do them.

Rushing over things is not only bad for our health, but often cause us more chaos than decent accomplishment towards our plan. Once we stop rushing through life, we will be amazed at how much more life we have time for. A healthy and well-balanced life is crucial in our pursue of happiness.

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Crystie Lim

Life Coach

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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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