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If You Learn To Enjoy Life Without These 11 Things, Nothing Will Be Too Difficult

If You Learn To Enjoy Life Without These 11 Things, Nothing Will Be Too Difficult

Happiness is hard sometimes. We chase after goals or desires, then when we have them, they don’t bring us happiness. So, we chase after new goals or desires, the cycle continues, and we remain unhappy.

Buddhists like to say that desire leads to unhappiness, and there is wisdom in that. Instead, here are 11 things which we may think are important, but truly don’t need to be happy.

1. Following the news

“Ignorance is bliss” is wrong, but that does not mean there is not too much information out there. Our society is so saturated by news about every inane thing that we lose track of the world and people around us. And while Washington intrigue may be fascinating, it does not affect you as much as you may think it does.

The fact is that news has plenty of negative effects on our bodies and way of thinking. Cut it off, and learn to enjoy life around you.

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2. The Internet

If the “information” we obtain by news consumption overstimulates our brains, what does the information we obtain through the internet do? Online communication hinders regular communication, as this Pearls Before Swine strip points out. And no one you meet online can mean as much to you as your close friends and family, who you can see face to face.

3. Gambling

Gambling is fun. But as it becomes more accepted in our society, people overlook its downsides. It takes away money from the poor and desperate, and can even get them addicted with dreams of easy wealth.

Gambling is not good for either your relationships or your wallet. And this can include not just the lottery or a trip to Vegas, but even the rise in fantasy sports.

4. Insincere hobbies

Everyone needs a hobby. But all too often, people pick hobbies which are socially acceptable as opposed to the hobbies they actually enjoy and are interested in. Woodworking and mountain biking are fine things to do, but not everyone is cut out for those sorts of things.

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Don’t choose hobbies just so that you can brag about your accomplishments to your peers. You won’t enjoy yourself that way. Do something in your free time that will keep your brain working and that you truly enjoy doing.

5. An expensive vacation

My favorite vacation as a child was not to Disneyworld or some resort, but to visit my grandmother or my uncles and cousins. All too often, families try to buy some expensive vacation which they hope will provide nice memories, but that is nowhere near as good as the simple bonds between family and friends.

6. A big house

All too often, a big house just means a place that you have to spend more time cleaning and maintaining than you would like. Americans have the biggest houses in the world by far, but that has not made us feel any better or happier.

The house can be a trap in more ways than one. People start adding extras, like a two-car garage, and then taking out car title loans to fill it. But remember, more loans means more debt and a smaller paycheck at the end of every month. What would you rather enjoy, a good life or a big house?

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7. Entertainment

Entertainment should be, well, entertaining. But people look to entertainment to escape the drudgery of their lives, which means they put more money into entertainment than their own lives.

But the most entertaining thing in this world is humans themselves. Learning about them can be far more interesting than any novel or movie.

8. Expensive dates

When we go out with others, we often try to impress them by taking them somewhere flashy or expensive. That often goes nowhere, just like those aforementioned expensive vacations. The best dates, just like the best vacations, are those taken where you can remember your date better than wherever you went to.

9. A gym membership

Exercise is critical in ensuring that we are happy and healthy. But that does not mean we need a gym membership, or worse, a home exercise set. Regular jogs and calisthenics can ensure you remain in good health. These activities are also cheaper and will not disappoint you as much as a jogging machine collecting dust in your garage.

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10. The latest technology

We have forgotten that technology is not an end. It is a means to an end in the pursuit of a better life. This means that we should not rush to get the latest technology just because. Only get it if you truly believe that it can solve your problems or improve your life in some manner.

11. The approval of other people

Almost everything which has been listed above ties into this one thing. We want other people to like us, so we buy expensive gadgets or vacations so that they will like us for our gadgets as opposed to who we are. But other people want us to like them, so they buy their own gadgets, which leads to a “keeping up with the Jones” situation.

Remember: there is no person in the world so despised as the one who tries to make everyone like him. Be yourself. That is the best thing you can do to be happy.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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