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10 Simple Daily Practices That Can Help You See A Bigger World

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10 Simple Daily Practices That Can Help You See A Bigger World

Have you ever just sat, got out of your own thoughts, and observed the world around you—the world for what it actually is and what it has to offer? This world is so big, so vast, and so replete with marvels that one can continue to be amazed every day. However, the world is only as big as you allow your perception to define it. It is only as big as you make conscious efforts to come out of our shells and observe.

We humans go through so much daily and have to do so many things that we forget to look around us, to just sit down and view nature as it is, and observe what is going on in our surroundings. Here are 10 simple daily practices that are fun, practical, and useful and help you see a bigger world.

1. Look up from your smartphones, take off your headphones

Our use of technology immensely limits our awareness of life around us. Engaged with the glowing screens in front of us, instead of the people and the environment around us, we often fail to notice what is going on in our surroundings and miss out simple joys of life. A whole new world exists beyond that glowing screen, but it requires from us to look around and experience all that it has to offer. The effects of the changing seasons, the aesthetics of a venue you are dining at, and a talented street performer beneath the park bridge are just some of the few things that you may find when you start observing. Similarly, while travelling in a vehicle or walking, you can observe better and listen to interesting conversations and sounds around you if you do not have your ears plugged. Therefore, one of the most important daily practices for seeing the bigger world is to limit your use of headphones and smartphones when you step outside.

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2. Don’t take the same path to or from school/work

On your walk or drive to or from school/work, take a different path each day. You’ll be amazed at how much you discover when you do so! It is very easy to follow the same path daily, but what’s the point in that? You will see different patterns, different people, different architecture, different street art etc. when you keep changing your path and observe keenly on your way.

3. Close your eyes and listen to your surroundings

Stop and listen to the sounds of the natural environment around you–the chirping, whistling and singing of the birds, the buzzing of bees, rustling of tree leaves, and the various sounds of the city, all may bring new information to you. Train your ears to listen for new things and notice different sounds.

4. Observe and talk to people around you

From jogging in the park to the line in the café, there are countless opportunities to meet new people and talk to them, but we have to be looking around and observing them in order to notice and take advantage of the opportunity. Observing and talking to people is another of the simple daily practices that can help you see the bigger world and expand your worldview as people share their experiences with you.

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5. Challenge yourself to pay attention to new things

Keeping a look out for new things is easier said than done. You cannot just plan that you will start observing the world more from today and expect that it happens too. Instead you might be able to produce better results when you challenge yourself to do so. For example, you can assign yourself a scavenger hunt, i.e. select something for you to look for during your walk or anytime you are out during the day. This could be anything, security cameras, orange flowers, people with headphones or anything. You can also challenge yourself to take a photo of a unique thing every day or with different challenges each day for keeping it interesting.

6. Sit in a public place and journal

Take out a few minutes to sit in a public place, such as a bus station, a park, a shopping mall, etc. Observe the people around and record details about them, such as how they are dressed, the expressions they are wearing on their faces, etc. Note the details and write about whatever comes to your mind or about the way the scene made you feel. This will also help you find out new things around you that you never noticed before.

7. Consume entertainment actively

While watching a movie or listening to a song, we are often tempted to zone out. But thinking about what the director of a movie was trying to get at when he/she added a particular aspect in the story or what the song’s lyrics actually mean may be another of the important simple daily practices to make you see the bigger world and practice observation.

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8. Get lost—explore the streets and alleys you have never been to before

When you have free time, get outside and explore places you have never been to before. You may discover a new café or restaurant, different new street performers, another breed of dogs that you never knew about, or a new way back to home. You become so mindful of your surroundings when you explore new streets and alleys.

9. Analyse what you see or read, and ask questions

When you observe your surroundings or read something, stop and question your thoughts. Start asking as much questions as you can, which will help you think critically. This also helps in boosting your skills of deduction and observation in general, while also expanding your knowledge about the world.

10. Make connections between what you see and the knowledge you have

For seeing a bigger world, your daily practices also need to include connecting your previous knowledge to what you see or observe. For example, you see a child having trouble in reading. You know this could be related to vision problems or it may be dyslexia so you look for symptoms of both and make a deduction on the basis of the ones that are found more prominently in the child. In this way you will be able to learn more and enhance your knowledge in general.

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Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Mehwish A. Wahid

Writer and Researcher

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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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