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The Epitome Of A Doomed Society Lies In A Web Of Convenience

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The Epitome Of A Doomed Society Lies In A Web Of Convenience

Let’s be honest — we’ve become accustomed to the ease we find in our lives nowadays.

We find it in the drive-thru lane of our local fast food restaurant as we hurry to get home, only to grab the kids and hustle them off to their activities. Eating in the car instead of at the dining room table becomes the norm.

The latest in technology takes the worry out of forgetting anything and makes that part of our lives obsolete. Even the latest gadgetry in the newest refrigerator commercial tells us about “what’s in the fridge,” where we are told exactly what’s there in order to ensure that we don’t grab more milk and eggs when we don’t need them.

These are just a few examples, but the list is endless.

If you look at your typical day, how many tasks are aided by convenience? We all have things like smartphones, WiFi, and GPS now at our fingertips — no matter where we are in the world.

I love those same conveniences. But have we allowed ourselves to rely so much on these easy ways that by doing so we are hindering our own ability to deal with life as it comes?

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Have we forgotten what it was like not too long ago for previous generations whose greatest conveniences included milk delivered daily? Back then, the best way we heard about what was going on around us and around the world was on the nightly news program.

As I look at the faces of our children, who’ve had their own tablets and headphones since before they were four years old, I wonder if having these modern-day conveniences actually does more harm than good in the long run.

For example, are these conveniences adding more problems in other areas, like obesity? Are our children learning nothing about how to prepare for life as it will be, not as we wish it would be? Are there lessons they should be learning now that we are neglecting to teach them? Is doing so a disservice to them and setting them up for a failure that is destined to find them?

Has our level of “laziness” increased due to our willingness to pay for just about anything, as long as we have to exert the least amount of effort to effectively still get what we want? Does assigning blame for this new entanglement actually change anything, and whose responsibility is it to actually do something about it?

And my biggest question of all: am I the only one who sees this as a problem in our society?

Why hasn’t anyone else raised their own eyebrow to not just start the conversation but seek to find a solution?

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Here is my take on this issue:

Convenience is meant to make things a little easier, but we have taken it too far. We have allowed ourselves and our children to not just grab hold of the things that make our lives easier, but have built our lives around those conveniences.

Our addiction to effortless attention and the sense of entitlement the majority of society seems to carry with them throughout their lives is hindering the real progress we need to have to sustain our most valued morals and ethical behavior.

Now, don’t get me wrong — running through the drive thru will not undermine everything we have in one night. But look at what’s happened just in your own family: do you sit together at the dinner table and share a meal, or is everyone headed in different directions to the extent that even texting one another while in the same house has become normal?

None of us has the ability to change the world, but we can each impact our part of the world as we once again take ownership of what we value. Nothing in this life ever comes easy, and although technology has made advancements in improving our lives for the better, it is still our responsibility to use those technological advances in the best way possible instead of requiring them to do everything for us. Growing up, I remember watching The Jetsons and thinking that we were so far away from that kind of living. But now, I’m not so sure.

Where do we go from here? How do we fix this epidemic and create a different outcome?

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Here are a few ideas. Feel free to add your own.

Challenge yourself.

Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. In fact, some of the most important things come from the hardest moments. Don’t always take the easy road. In turn, you teach yourself more than you know and you also inspire others around you.

Don’t complain.

Life is tough and there are going to be some things we just cannot undo or fix. Figure out a way to make the best of your situation and even if the result is not ideal, your attitude will remind you what is really important.

Go back to the basics.

When something is done for us, we forget how to do simple things, like tie our shoes. Progress and innovation can inhibit our willingness to do even the simplest of tasks just because we don’t have to anymore.

Determine your priorities.

If a family dinner once a week matters to you, then make the time to include it as a part of your schedule. Don’t allow yourself (or others) to make excuses just because it is easy to do. If there is a conflict, reschedule. Never cancel.

Appreciate your loved ones.

It’s easy to take people for granted (we all do it from time to time) and yet should something happen, we would do anything for a few simple moments together. Talk to one another instead of sending texts or emojis. Nothing warms the heart and creates a moment more than a few shared words with the people you love most.

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Keep your values, morals, and ethics intact.

Nowadays, it is easy to get caught up in superficial things like title and status. Regardless of how far you climb that ladder at work or how many privileges are afforded to you, remember what got you there to begin with and mentor others when given the chance. Never forget who you are by allowing a few dollars thrown your way to change the kind of legacy you want to leave behind.

Follow through with your intentions.

Too often, people over-commit and then don’t want to face the realization that they will need to disappoint someone by choosing one thing over another. Say “yes” only to the things and people who you truly want to give your effort and time to — don’t cheat others with a half-assed performance because it’s convenient. Either be all in or get out.

Step away from the devices.

Don’t bring them to the dinner table, leave them inside while you relax by the pool, and allow the calls to go to voice mail. “Getting off the grid” is easier than we think it is — we just have to give ourselves permission to do it. If we don’t have WiFi at our fingertips at every second of every single day, that would still not be the worst day ever. Be conscious with your choice to turn it off at night, when out with friends, or spending time with your significant other. It is noticed more than you think it is, no matter who is around you.

Play.

Have fun. Remember what it was like to be a kid and do things that most of us have forgotten to do: run in the sprinklers, jump on a swing, blow bubbles. Laugh out loud, smile more, giggle. Shoot hoops and ride bikes. Color with sidewalk chalk or crayons. Dance and sing when your “jam” comes on. Adding fun things like these to your week increases your happiness and naturally gives you more energy when you have to do “grown-up” stuff.

Try new things.

We get into ruts very easily and neglect our human curiosity about being an adventurer of what else is out there. Get excited about starting a new part of your story with an exploration of sorts that includes going outside your comfort zone or just learning something new. You may not fall in love with this new thing right away, but maybe it will point you towards something that expands your horizons in ways you never imagined.

Our lives can be changed, but only if we decide to change them. This kind of change will intimidate some and inspire others. You know which side of the fence you sit on and what you do next determines if you choose to stay trapped or you decide to live more intently.

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We don’t have to live this way. We can still fix this. Ultimately, that choice is yours as much as it is mine. The big question isn’t so much about your choice, but how committed you are to it. That’s what counts. The time to start is now.

Featured photo credit: Michael Podger/Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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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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