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5 Valuable Life Lessons Travel Has Taught Me

5 Valuable Life Lessons Travel Has Taught Me

We see and hear quotes every day stating that travel is the greatest teacher. We meet and know people who have ventured over to other countries and returned with exciting stories, all telling us that going to another country has opened their eyes.

I never really understood it until I, myself, went venturing out into the big wide world. Upon my return, everyone who I knew told me that I had changed. Not in a bad way, but they all said I had grown so much from when they last saw me and I had changed for the better.

Everybody changes throughout their journey, and everybody grows at their own pace. We just don’t seem to really notice it until we take a moment and reflect on who we are now, compared to the person we were last year or the year before.

I have only been to 18 countries (and counting, I plan to do more!) and I know there are many other people in the world who have been to a lot more than I have; but I want to take a moment and reflect on the top five things I have learnt from my travels so far:

1. Every Single Person Is Beautiful in Their Own, Individual, Way.

Throughout your travels, you meet so many interesting people along the way. I did find, however, that I met a lot more people when I traveled alone than when I went with friends. I think this is because when you are alone, you have to step outside of your comfort zone and make friends with whomever you can. Otherwise, you will have a pretty boring time. What is the point of going overseas if to not meet a person from that country?

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You meet all sorts of characters. Funny, serious, classy, rude, obnoxious, shy, friendly; you name it, you will meet them. What I did find was, once I got to know them on a deeper level, we were all very similar. We all had our fears and insecurities, we all had our dreams and desires, and we all wanted the same thing. I realized that every human being I had met on this planet, thus far, all wanted to feel valued and wanted. We all want to feel like we are appreciated in some way.

Once I realized this, I learnt to look past the flaws and the walls people had built for themselves and learnt to see the beauty within them. I learnt that every single person deep down really did have a big heart. Some just didn’t know how to show it as well as others.

Our journeys and past experiences create the person we are now. Some people have experienced such turmoil and just haven’t come to terms and healed from it. We are all messed up in some kind of way. No one is perfect, but we are all so beautiful in our own individuality. We just express it differently.

2. You Really Don’t Need Much to Survive

When you are jumping from one country to the next, you really don’t want to be carrying a great deal with you. I’ve learnt to ditch the five thousand outfits, the several pairs of shoes, all the gadgets, and whatever else I was used to having so accessible.

I’ve actually become a pro at packing and am renowned for packing my bags within an hour of leaving for the airport. All I really need is clean underwear, a few outfit changes, bikinis, some toiletries, hairbrush, a jacket (in case it gets cold), running shoes, thongs/flipflop/jandals (depending which country you are from), nice shoes (in case I go out somewhere that I need to be dressed up at), my phone, camera (must take photos of EVERYTHING), house keys and passport.

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I have realized that we really don’t need much with us. Especially when you are too busy watching sunsets, going on adventures, tasting exotic food, and experiencing new and exciting moments.

3. The Little Things Can Sometimes Be the Most Priceless

When we are at home in our comfortable surroundings, sometimes we forget to appreciate the little things like watching the sun rise or set, noticing the people around us and the emotions they are feeling, having a proper bathroom and toilet, the warmth of our own bed, I really could go on . . .

After experiencing some amazing sunrises and sunsets all over the world, when I am back home I always try to take a moment to watch the sun rise or set and just enjoy the beauty. You don’t need to be overseas to see a sun set or rise, it’s there every day wherever you are. Just admiring the world and something so natural for even a minute can elevate your mood.

One of my favorite past times when I am overseas is people watching. I love sitting at a cafe or restaurant and just watching those around me. Even at airports you see so many people saying good bye, and the farewells are filled with tears. It is one of those places filled with emotion. People are jetting off somewhere full of excitement, saying a sad goodbye to a dear one or coming back from a business trip tired and flustered. Sometimes, when we are at home, we forget to notice others around us.  The world is a beautiful place and there are so many emotions around us.

How about when you get home and finally get into your warm, cozy bed? How good does it feel after sleeping on several different, sometimes uncomfortable beds? And hooray, a proper bathroom! If you ever find yourself in a third world country, a toilet with toilet paper is a blessing we definitely take for granted.

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4. We Never Remember What People Do for Us, We Remember How They Made Us Feel

When you travel, you meet so many people. You form many friendships, some for a short period of time, some that can last a lifetime. You learn that people will come and go in your life. The ones that leave an imprint are the ones who made you feel either really good or really bad.

Along my journey, I have met some people who I will forever hold dear in my heart. They are those genuine souls who I know will be my friends for life. The people who you had the best days with, and who were there through some bad days. The ones who you laughed with until your bellies hurt, and the ones who held your hair up because you had too much to drink.

You also remember those who you only had a brief encounter with but who had such a beautiful aura about them. It’s nice to know there are genuine people out there, and it’s a blessing to meet them. On the other hand, the ones that gave us bad vibes or made us feel uncomfortable in any kind of way are also people we remember.

From learning this, I try to my best to consciously be aware of how I can make another feel. For I know this is how they will always remember me. As an old saying goes, it’s not where you go, it’s who you meet along the way.

5. You Will Be Much Happier If You Appreciate What You Have

After experiencing a few different cultures, the one thing I noticed the most was that the people from third world countries seemed to smile at you more. They didn’t have much, yet they were always smiling when you walked by. They appreciated what they did have and they were genuinely happy.

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I also found that the majority of those in third world countries were the most generous. They knew what it was like to have nothing, so they never wanted to see somebody else go without. If they only had a banana to eat, they would split it and offer you the other half.

Sometimes we get so stuck in our ways of society and the rat race we find ourselves in that we forget to stop and appreciate just how much we really have. If we have a roof over our head, a bed to sleep in, and can eat every day, we are richer than millions of other people in the world. We get so caught up in what we want and what we don’t have that we forget to notice what we do have, which really is a lot. We really are blessed.

There is a practice that the Law of Attraction has taught me, and that is to take five minutes of your day to count your blessings. Every morning, and before I go to sleep, I take a moment and say thanks for the fact I woke up and I am still alive and healthy. I give thanks for my family and friends. I thank the universe that I have a roof over my head and I have all the necessities I need. I also reflect on how far I have come as a person and let that feeling of gratitude rush over me. Since starting this practice, I really must say my life has changed for the better. Something has shifted and I highly recommend you try it for yourself; I would love to hear how it affects you.

These are the top five lessons I have learnt through my travels. What are your top five?

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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)

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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