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People Who Aren’t Serious About Life Understand Life Better

People Who Aren’t Serious About Life Understand Life Better
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Life is a serious business! Or is it? Life is beautiful, amazing, majestic, short, and we only get one. Just because someone doesn’t take their lives overly seriously does not mean that they are without motivation or ambition. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care about things. People who have learned not to take life–or themselves–seriously tend to live happier, longer lives, tend to get sick less, and seem more fearless.

It’s easy to fall into taking life too seriously. You have an important job and all of a sudden the everyday crises and problems take over your thoughts. Or maybe your baby has colic and all you can focus on is the constant crying and lack of sleep. It happens to everyone at some point. I make a concerted effort every day to see the positive things in my life, appreciate them, and be happy and grateful for the people I have in my life.

What’s happening is that you’re focusing on the smaller stuff and not on the big picture. People who aren’t so serious about life are usually more big-picture types of people. It is easier to shake off the little things when you can see a larger picture in your mind. If I have a bad day at work, I never take that mood home with me. If I do, I’ll talk to my significant other about it, brood over it, and now it has ruined my whole evening. Instead, I think, “Okay. Today sucked. I’m going to enjoy dinner with my guy and go in ready to kick butt tomorrow!”

We should hold children up as an example of how not to take life so seriously. Kids are experts on getting over being told no and running off and enjoying the next thing in life. Let’s all strive to enjoy life the way kids enjoy bubbles. Here are eight ways those who don’t take themselves seriously understand life better.

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1. Learn that you cannot control life or others, you can only control yourself and your reactions

Stop focusing on things that are fully out of your control. There is no point. You cannot control or change them, so stop wasting your precious time on those things, and focus more on enjoying life. People who don’t take life so seriously understand that if you something is out of their control, they shouldn’t be wasting neurons stressing about it. Instead, they are out there experiencing new things, going on adventures, and having fun.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff

We’ve all heard it a million times. But just like with the things you can’t control, stop focusing on the small things. Think about it this way: does it really matter in the long run if your kid wears mismatched sneakers or doesn’t zip his jacket when he’s only running the 15 feet to the car? It is so easy to let little things become important, to let them become much bigger than they really are. Whether that is because the kid chooses this to go to war over, and now you have to deal with a whole thing about it, or because you’re so used to saying it that you insist on it over and over. Think about it. Instead of arguing with your kid and both of you winding up in a bad mood when you’re just trying to go run errands, pick your battles and remember that those tiny things aren’t going to matter in the grand scheme of things, and you and your kid can just enjoy the moment.

Same with adult things. Does it really matter in the long run that your partner forgot to wash the dishes or vacuum, or that your boss wants you to stay 30 minutes late to finish up that project? Try to look at the bigger picture and stop stressing out and worrying about small things. Hey, maybe that project will earn you praise from your supervisor, and an eventual promotion. Maybe your partner just had a really bad day or simply forgot the chores. Is it worth a fight?

3. Smell the roses; watch the sunset

Just like not worrying about negative little things, you should also try to focus on happy smaller things. Did you see a gorgeous sunset on your way home from work? Did your kid light up when you walked in the house? Did your favorite TV show start right as you were sitting down to watch something? Those little things should make you happy. Take a moment and recognize that they are positive things, and it will help lighten your mood. Lightening your mood will make you feel better and less serious. People who don’t take life too seriously take time to be silly, enjoy the small things, and appreciate them.

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4. Spend quality time with the people you love

It’s so easy to get caught up in work, errands, and the little things in everyday life that we sometimes take the people in our lives for granted. They’re there, they will continue to be there, and you’re busy! But no one ever laid on their deathbed and wished they had worked longer hours. They wish they had appreciated their loved ones and spent more time enjoying life and love, and less time assuming that they would still be there when they got home from work.

Spend real quality time. Don’t just make your kids do their homework and read more. Take them places, listen to them, watch them learn. Appreciate your partner and all they do for you and the family, spend time talking to your partner and going on date nights. Sometimes we get so focused on our careers or our specific individual life goals that we forget to appreciate the path to getting there and the people we chose to travel that path with.

The people who have learned not to take life so seriously are the ones who put more focus on the important things in life–their relationships with the people the love.

5. See the glass as half full and spread positivity

Learning to not just see the silver lining, but to appreciate it and let it give you hope is ideal. There is an old saying, “This too shall pass.” And so it will. People who don’t take life too seriously have learned not to dwell on negative things, but to seek out positive things and look forward to more. They try to spread that to others, and are optimistic about the future.

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6. Learn not to let the negative things take over your whole day/week/life

There are always going to be negative things: bad days, bad moods, bad bosses, bad food. But you can choose to let go of the anger at something you cannot change, and not let it invade the rest of your life. It’s easy to get mad at something at work and take it home, rant about it, brood about it. Maybe unfairly take it out on your partner. It’s happened to me. I was blunt and said, “I know I’m the only other person here, but it is not fair to take your bad mood out on me. I know I’m not the one you’re upset at, but you’re acting like I am.” And my partner was surprised, and didn’t realize he was treating me that way because his bad mood and bad attitude was all he could focus on. I’ve been there, too. It takes a conscious effort to say to yourself, “I am not going to let this one thing ruin my whole day or my whole week. I have learned what I can from the experience, and I am going to move forward and not let it happen again.”

7. Smile more

It’s true that actually making yourself smile can lead you to feeling happier. Here is how Scientific American explained it. Smile more, laugh more, engage more. Take the time to laugh at a good joke, or smile just because you see something pretty or weird. Appreciate the little things in life! There is a series of small potholes in the sidewalk near my house, and the way they are make them look like a frowning face. Every time I walk over them, I smile. It’s funny and weird and cute.

8. Be confident

As we get older, we learn to be more comfortable and confident with who we are, at least that’s what everyone older says! But why wait? People who don’t take life as seriously tend to care less about what strangers think of them, tend to be more silly, and tend to be more confident. I’m a very confident person. I know what I’m good and bad at, I am proud of myself and my accomplishments, and I dance at parties like no one is watching. Something we learn as we have grown up is that they aren’t watching. Most people are so concerned with themselves and how they look that they are not watching you. And even if they were, who cares? You don’t know them, why would their opinions matter anyway?

Be confident. And if you aren’t confident, fake it ’til you make it. It truly works. Look people in the eyes, keep your head up and shoulders back. Ask questions, be engaged in conversations. Don’t cross your arms when you’re talking to people. Body language has a lot to do with confidence and perception. If you do these things long enough, they will become a habit and a part of you, until the confidence is ingrained.

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You can make a choice to be happier, worry less, spend time with the people you love, and take life less seriously. You only get one life, and it is a terminal disease…enjoy the time and what you have!

Featured photo credit: Syda Productions via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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