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How To Spread Love In Your City in the New Year

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How To Spread Love In Your City in the New Year

In the age of technological progress happening at the speed of Google Fiber, the world is more connected than ever, but we can feel completely disconnected from our closest neighbors, friends, and the people we walk by every day. Here are some practical and small ways that you can spread love in your city, not just over the holidays, but throughout the new year and beyond. We are all humans, we are all people, and we all deserve some love, comfort, and happiness in our lives. You don’t have to donate billions to charity to make a difference in someone’s life! Everyone can make a difference and contribute to another person’s happiness.

1. Fully Listening to People

There is a difference between hearing someone and really listening. Really listening to someone can be very powerful, and can show someone how much you care about them and their feelings. We all want to be heard and understood. How can you listen better?

According to Harriet Cabelly, a social worker and positive psychology coach, you first need to understand the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is simple, listening involves the whole self – attentiveness, interest, and concern showing through. Stay present during the full conversation, ask questions, acknowledge the person’s feeling, it’s all part of truly listening to someone. Go forth and really listen to people, you may just find that you don’t know some people as well as you thought.

2. Smile

Smiles and laughs can be contagious. Spread positivity by radiating it! Smile at those harried people in line at Starbucks, as you’re walking down the street, and at your coworkers. A smile and kind hello can mean a lot to people, and can make someone feel good. When someone smiles at you, you feel as though you’ve been noticed, and a simple smile and “hi!” can make someone’s day a little brighter. This free and easy way to spread love will make you also feel better!

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Charles Darwin first posed the idea that emotional responses influence our feelings in 1872.

“The free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it,” he wrote.

The idea that when we frown, we feel pain more intensely and when we smile, our brains believe us to be happier has been explored by psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales, who performed a study based on whether botox, since it inhibits facial expressions, also inhibits our feelings.

So, smile!

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3. Help Strangers

In a world full of 7 billion people, it is easy to get caught up in our own world. I life in New York City, and basically the entire city, teaming with millions, are strangers. But every day, I am awarded a beautiful sense of community when I give a homeless person a sandwich, or see someone helping an infirm person across the street, or giving the embarrassed person in front of you that extra quarter they’re missing. Little things like this give us a sense of connectedness, and helping strangers in small ways is a fantastic way to help people and spread love across the world. Help people without thought of compensation or reward, do it because you can and should.

4. Pay It Forward

Paying It Forward can happen in many different ways, but a way that it’s happening these days that makes the news is at Starbucks! Paying it forward refers to someone purchasing the coffee or order of the person behind them in line. At one Florida store, the pay it forward chain lasted 11 hours! It started at 7 am at the St Petersburg location and lasted an amazing 378 people! What could be the record for the longest pay it forward chain at a Starbucks in Newington, CT, where starting at 8 am on Christmas Eve in 2013, and lasted over 1000 customers. These small acts of kindness are said to inspire and influence people to continue performing acts of kindness, not just to the customers behind them in line, but to others in their lives.

Make sure to pay things forward in life, in general. When I was young, just starting in my career, I was given amazing training and mentorship by another employee, and have tried to pay it forward to new people throughout my career, hoping to assist people and help them gain not only understanding of their current job, but also of what it means to be part of a team and mentor others.

5. Offer Acknowledgement and Recognition

We have all felt what it’s like to do something and not get recognized. While you should not be doing good or kind things for acknowledgement or recognition, it is always appreciated when someone does recognize it. Mostly I refer to work situations. Recognize and give credit to your colleagues and employees. The people who work hard, achieve things in the workplace, and try to be great employees. Just like with children, most people want to be genuinely recognized and acknowledged for doing well at work and in life. When you tell someone “good job!” you’re showing them that you noticed and appreciated them and their hard work. As simplistic as it seems, many people every year leave good jobs simply because they feel unappreciated.

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In 2013, Forbes published an article stating that 2 million Americans quit their jobs voluntarily every month, and that according to a study done by Accenture, 43% of people quitting their jobs cite “lack of recognition” as the reason. This is a huge percentage and something that is so easily remedied. Appreciate your people! Just because you pay someone to do a job doesn’t mean that person doesn’t deserve recognition when they do it well. In a world where great employee retention is a huge part of success, you should not be losing anyone to them feeling unappreciated for their work.

6. Be Grateful

It’s not just for Thanksgiving! Spread love and positivity by expressing your gratitude in life. I like to tell my partner “We are so lucky. We’ve worked hard and we have a wonderful life. Look at all the things we have to be grateful for: each other, our families, our jobs, our friends.” Sometimes we all need a reminder that the little things and disappointments in life are not what’s important, and that we have a lot to be thankful for. Tell your friends you appreciate them, thank your boss for being a great role model and helping you, tell your parents you love them. Spread the love!

7. Use Good Manners

This one may seem silly at first, but how many times has someone bumped into you and you apologized? Or you saw someone wave or say hello at work and you were too busy or distracted to respond? Good manners are noticed and easy to do. Look people in the eye when you talk to them, call people by their names, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. The golden rule of life is to treat people as you wish to be treated. So wave to your neighbor, say hello, excuse me, please, and thank you. It seems simple and it is, but good manners make a difference to people and a difference in how people treat each other. Manners are an indication of kindness and respect for others, and this is a great way to spread the love.

8. Small Acts of Random Kindness

Put change in a meter that’s about to run out. Hold the door open for the person behind you. Hold the elevator. For goodness sake, use your turn signal! Donate your loose change to a local charity. Random acts of kindness can turn someone’s day around, and will cost you little to no time or money. Why wouldn’t you want to do small things that can help people? If you think of most people as inherently good, you should also want to do good things for people in the world.

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9. Do Pro Bono Work For a Great Cause

You can use your professional skills and do short term or long term work for your favorite local or global charity through CatchAFire.org, which connects people with the right skills to the nonprofit organizations that could use your help. Right now there are projects waiting for volunteers from everything from needing Marketing Strategies to Storytelling help, to Grantwriting to Website Construction. If you have great skills, some time, and a love of volunteering, these projects could be a great way to volunteer in a new and interesting way!

10. Donate Anything!

Donations are not all about money. You can donate anything these days, from clothes and shoes and purses to books and tools. Instead of throwing away anything, try to donate it to someone who could use it first. Homeless shelters often desperately need socks and hygiene items, women’s shelters always need things for the kids and teens like books and toys, animal shelters need pet toys, bed, and leashes, and Goodwill and Salvation Army will take almost anything. There are even services who will take your old kitchen appliances like refrigerators and microwaves! Why throw away something that works or still has life in it, when it can go to people who need it?

11. Visit An Animal Shelter

Spend time with man’s best friend and man’s animal that tolerates them by going to a shelter and walking some dogs or cuddling with the homeless cats! Animal shelters have more animals than humans, and often need people to help play with and take care of the animals. This would be a great date, or a fun day with your best friend. And you never know, maybe you’ll even find your next furry companion!

12. Love Yourself and Be Happy

This may sound trite, but the best way to spread happiness and love is by radiating it. Show the world love by loving yourself first. Spread positivity by first being positive. You being happy and appreciative and grateful makes it easy to spread that happiness and gratefulness to others. Be the best version of yourself by being thankful for what you have, by having a good work ethic and a strong will. Learn new skills and maybe you’ll want to teach others. You as a person are the best advertisement for happiness when you’re passing it out to other people.

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Featured photo credit: Virginia Is For Lovers by Jon Cornwell 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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