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We Can Be Healthier And Make Ourselves Better Lovers By Feeling Awe, Study Finds

We Can Be Healthier And Make Ourselves Better Lovers By Feeling Awe, Study Finds
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Those who dare to be in awe (usually against society’s advice) tend to find happiness, enjoyment, exhilaration, love and beauty more often than most.

Allowing themselves to feel instead of judging, dreading or scrutinizing, these curious individuals often enjoy excellent health and better relationships in addition to their open heart.

If we already know that positive thoughts lead to a positive life, doesn’t it make sense that the feeling of awe would produce emotion positive enough to alter one’s perception of the world almost entirely? This easily translates into relationships – think of a time your partner did something to make you admire them! You probably felt lucky to be with them which reignited your love for each other. What if you could feel that way again? What would your relationship be like? Powerful feelings influence both sides of the relationship; when in awe of your partner, you can’t get enough of them!

Can you imagine what it would be like to see beauty everywhere you go, appreciating the world around you? How happy would you be every day? Right now, there may have been merely several times in life you were truly in awe but the memory still remains and if you aren’t used to this feeling, you were probably taught to beware of it in order to avoid disappointment. However, allowing very few things in life to move you doesn’t exactly translate into frequent happiness.

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By now, you are realizing why being in awe produces positive emotion. Wrapped in the feeling of awe, one feels like an entirely new person – happier, healthier and even more loving. The heart is suddenly open. Feeling awe and enjoying excellent health are interconnected, as proven by research.

Science Says…

Science has found a correlation between the feeling of being in awe leading to better health and vice versa. A study completed at the University of Toronto to examine the effect of positive emotion on health measured the levels of the interleukin-6 molecule (IL-6) in its participants. Known for causing inflammation while showing low levels when positive emotion is involved, participants filled out questionnaires describing the frequency of specific emotions felt within one month to prove that awe had predicted the exact levels of IL-6 shown in the results.

Good health and awe are based on positive emotion which influences one’s entire being in immensely rewarding ways. The feeling of awe is associated with an outgoing character which is a trait of positive individuals. Those with negative mindsets tend to be less sociable, probably agreeing with the general view of society that awe is reserved only for the most exceptional of circumstances. However, if allowing yourself to be in awe of the beauty you see every day makes you even healthier and happier (not to mention that good health results in great looks), why should you refrain from being in awe?

Science Also Says…

The feeling of awe also manifests in a low level of cytokines – proteins crucial to the immune system because of their reaction to illness. Research done at UC Berkeley, in which the participants reported on the range of positive emotions felt in a single day, showed that those who’d experienced being in awe measured the lowest levels of cytokines.

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Once again, it was assumed that awe influenced the low level of cytokines just as much as good health had an impact on positive emotions. Awe seems to be one of the most powerful positive emotions, quickly improving one’s health in various ways.

When in Awe of the World Around You…

When in awe, one feels helpful, their open heart suddenly attuned to the needs of others. Similarly, feeling awe helps cure depression, redirecting attention from one’s complex thoughts to their growing curiosity about the wonders of the world.

Dr. Paul Piff of UC Irvine claims that the power of redirecting focus is one of the strongest benefits feeling awe can bring, stating it “attunes us to things bigger than ourselves.” In addition, he suggested that reliving a feeling of awe from the past can add to one’s present capacity for kindness and compassion. Dacher Keltner of UC Berkeley measured the academic improvement of inner city high school students who were taken on a rafting trip; in addition to achieving improvements, the students developed increased curiosity about the world.

Another experiment of Dr. Piff’s, in which a group of students gazed up at the eucalyptus trees while another faced a building, demonstrated that the first group displayed a larger capacity for generosity and humbleness in the next phase of the experiment.

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Web developer Polett Villalta stated her experiences of deep scuba diving, including an instance of touching the bottom of the ocean and witnessing a striking visual of colorful coral and darting fish, continuously allows her to improve her life. She has been paralyzed from the chest down ever since an accident during childhood. Describing her first deep scuba diving experience, she said: “It’s like nothing else matters.”

Elizabeth Bernstein of the The Wall Street Journal wrote: “I have been diving with Ms. Villalta, and to see her transcend her physical limitations and submerge underwater is awe-inspiring.”

And What About Love?

Can you imagine what happens when one feels in awe of their romantic partner?

Being in awe of another humbles even the most confident of individuals. Since being in awe increases one’s sense of generosity, considering your partner worthy of awe could cause you to be more appreciative and adoring of them, wanting to do your best in the relationship. If being in awe increases the feeling of trust, it can direct your attention to your partner instead of your own needs in a relationship. In addition, increased feelings of generosity and appreciation in a relationship understandably serve as motivators for being a giving lover.

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In other words, feeling awe can even help increase the overall feeling of love for one’s partner.

Featured photo credit: Man Celebrating Freedom In nature With Glacier/Dan Cooper via stokpic.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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