“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” – E. F. Schumacker
In an age where we seem to pride ourselves in being intensely busy and remaining connected through technology 24/7, it is easy to forget that it’s the simple things in life that make us happy.
Sometimes we need to find ways to restore this simplicity in our lives. Here are 7 ways to make your life a lot simpler and happier.
1. Call the person, avoid texting
Texting has become a common form of communication, to the point where we have actually forgotten the original purpose of the phone: to actually call a person and speak to them directly. Yes, people, there is actually another person on the other side of that mobile device.
Through texting, It’s very easy for what you want to say to actually be lost in translation. It’s very easy for misunderstandings to happen. And it’s definitely a lot harder to sort out any relationship problems or business issue you may be having. Aside from being incredibly time consuming, the sense of emotion is removed and you can’t actually tell how the person is feeling.Advertising
Would it not be a lot easier if you just picked up the phone and called? One would think so. You could instantly let it be known how you feel. Nothing is lost in translation. The emotion is not removed. There are no misunderstandings. It’s quicker, less time consuming (as you won’t be dwelling on the problem through back and forth messages) and more importantly you will be happier in knowing that you are sorting out the problem.
2. Openly vent your emotions; don’t keep them bottled up
Are you the type of person who has the tendency to hide their emotions? You keep everything inside. When you are angry, you don’t let it be known that you are angry. When you are unhappy with someone, you don’t let that person know. When something someone does irritates you, you don’t tell them.
The problem with this is that it can cause huge stress in your life. It makes you unhappy. Eventually, all these emotions come out, all at once. It’s not pretty. It’s not healthy, both psychologically and physically.
Rather find ways to channel these emotions constructively. Chat with a friend. Find a safe place. e.g. your room where you can openly let these emotions out. Doing this will in the long run surely make you healthier and a lot happier as a person.
3. Create your own memories; avoid the comparison game
How often do you find yourself, scrolling through Facebook, reading post after post of people doing amazing things? You see people travelling the world. Going on hikes. Relaxing with friends. Going out to lunch in beautiful restaurants. Inside you feel a little jealous and you think to yourself. “Why am I not doing these amazing things.?”
Well exactly, why aren’t you? Go out and create your own memories, instead of spending your days reading what others are doing. Visit the places you wanted to visit. Read that book you wanted to read. Climb that mountain. Jump in the dam naked.
Do all those things you want to do and more importantly, stop comparing yourself to others. Avoid the comparison game at all cost. This will not make you happier. What will make you happier is creating your own memories.
4. Maintain open forms of communication; don’t assume
Have you ever guessed what your loved ones or the people you care about are thinking, and been totally wrong? Have you assumed they like something, when in fact this was not the case? Maybe you thought they liked going to a specific restaurant because you have always taken them there, but never actually asked if they enjoyed it?
Assuming and guessing what people think can create complications down the line. Through maintaining open forms of communication and simply asking your loved one’s questions directly, you avoid miscommunication and ensure a healthier and happier relationship.Advertising
5. Actions speak louder than words; don’t panic
We often find ourselves not comforting our loved ones in times of need because we feel we don’t know how to comfort them. We panic about what to do. And what makes it worse is that sometimes your loved ones don’t even want to talk. What do you do?
Sometimes all that is needed is for you to be there. As simple as that. They don’t need words. They don’t want to chat. They just want your touch. They just need a hug. Such a simple action can speak one thousand words.
6. Try something new, don’t hesitate
Do you find yourself hesitating over what to do next? Maybe you are scared of trying something new? Maybe you are scared of what people think? There’s an age old saying:
“It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”
This means that it’s better to act decisively and apologise for it later than seek someone’s approval to act and possibly risk delay. So if you want to do something do it. Do what makes you happy. Don’t be scared to try something. Don’t be hesitant. You might just find that through trying that something, that you absolutely love it. That it made you a lot happier as a person.
And if it didn’t, well that’s fine. You will survive. Move on to the next thing, knowing that you have eliminated one other thing that doesn’t make you happy.
7. Actively work on your future; stop worrying
We often overcomplicate things, by worrying unnecessarily about the future, instead of actively working on it now. Rather spend time on those things you can control right now and stop worrying about the things you cannot control.
For example, if you want to start your own business, take simple small steps towards achieving that dream that will make you happier.
There is no guarantee as to exactly how the future will turn out, but through focusing on those small things we can control right now, we are on the right track towards a future that will surely be a lot brighter and happier.Advertising
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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