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8 Important Lessons Everyone Should Keep Learning For Better Life

8 Important Lessons Everyone Should Keep Learning For Better Life

While we all face challenges in life, we are arguably our own worst enemies when it comes to conceiving and pursuing goals. This is because we tend to create boundaries and excuses that limit our ambitions, either due to a fear of failure or a lack of self-belief.

These self-imposed restrictions can be difficult to lift, unless you commit to learning from your mistakes and heeding the meaning of pivotal life lessons. With this approach, you can gradually coach your mind, change your outlook and practice skills that free your mind from inhibitions.

8 Important Life Lessons that we must continually learn for a better life

With this in mind, what are the key lessons that we must continue to learn if we are to enjoy a more fulfilling life? Here are eight of the most important:

1. You are never too old to learn new things

This is arguably the most important life lessons, as we often tell ourselves that we are too old or jaded to accept new challenges. This is a debilitating misconception, however, and one that has been contradicted by a host of famous people throughout history. World renowned fashion designer Vera Lang did not create a garment until she was 39, for example, while the now-deceased Hollywood actor Alan Rickman didn’t land an adult film role until he was 28.

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The lesson here is simple, as quite simply it is never too late to accept exciting challenges and learn new skills for the better.

2. You can turn mistakes into Positive Learning Experiences

On a similar note, we have already touched on the fact that there is a tendency to avoid difficult challenges because of an innate fear of failure. It was Theodore Roosevelt who opined that “the only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” This reaffirms that we must take risks and push ourselves if we are to achieve life goals.

It also underlines the importance of embracing our mistakes, turning them into positive learning exercises and using them to shape our future efforts.

3. You can leave the past and move on

Our innermost fears and insecurities are often linked to our pasts, which subconsciously alter our outlooks and change the ways in which we think about the future. Just as you can learn from mistakes and glean positives from failure, you can also heed lessons from past experiences before leaving them behind and moving on with your life. Of course, this is far easier said than done, but the process of altering your mind-set for the better begins with accepting the things that have happened in the past and leveraging them as a springboard for a brighter future. Arguably one of the most important life lessons that you will ever learn, this prevents failures and hardship from hindering your development over time.

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4. You can alter your Outlook through the use of Colour

As we can see, our mood and outlook are extremely important in shaping how we think about specific events. They also dictate our feelings from day to day, meaning that those who are already prone to bouts of anxiety or insecurity can suffer from regular fluctuations in mood and attitude. With this in mind, it is important that you tailor your surroundings to drive positive sentiment and create an environment in which you are comfortable and happy.

One way to achieve this is through the use of colour, as alternative shades solicit different moods and emotions. As individuals, there are also cultural, psychological and physical factors that influence how we perceive colours, so understanding these can help us to create living and working environments that bring the best out of our psyches.

5. You can always make a difference in someone’s Life

When you encounter difficult times or find yourself weighed down with insecurity, it is easy to believe that nobody truly cares for you. This is simply not true, however, as we all have friends and loved ones who care a great deal about us and believe in the unique value that we offer as individuals.

It is important to appreciate this, and maintain a sense of perspective when evaluating our lives. After all, we have an unconscious ability to impact on the lives of those who love us, as they tend to share our sadness and sense of loss. If we are able to recognise our own importance and seek out the positives in this, we can make a huge difference in the lives of our friends and family members.

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6. You are not going to be liked by everyone

Conversely, it is important to recognise that you are not going to have such a positive impact on everyone. In fact, there are some people who will dislike you throughout the course of your life, and this can be extremely distressing for those with insecurities or low-esteem who are desperately keen to please everyone.

You must learn that is OK not to be liked by everyone, however, and that this is an inescapable fact of life. This is a life lesson that can be exceptionally difficult to absorb, but the key is to focus on the individuals who are close to you and learn to appreciate their opinions ahead of others. After all, these people know you better than anyone and offer a far greater gauge of your popularity.

7. You must take responsibility for your own life

This is a tricky one, as blame culture can take hold when we experience hardship or negative events in our lives. This causes us to blame other people and external circumstances for the issues that we have encountered, which just so happens one of the main character traits of those who struggle to cope with the demands of everyday life.

This was evident in the wake of the great recession, when the world’s leading banks were blamed for irresponsible lending. Customers also borrowed more than they could afford to repay, however, and many struggled to take responsibility for their own finances during this time. This is the key to a happy and successful existence, as it creates a more proactive mind-set and enables you to assume greater control over the course that your life will take.

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8. You can do anything that your mind is able to conceive

If there is one trait that distinguishes positive people, it is an ability to think positively. More specifically, they understand that they are capable of achieving anything that their mind is able to conceive, so long as they are willing to showcase determination, work-ethic and a forward-thinking outlook.

Take the example of Nick Vujicic, for example, who was born with no arms and legs and yet has gone on to become a globally-renowned evangelist and source of inspiration for millions of people across the world. He has achieved this through the power of faith and positive thinking, which has enabled him to absorb his experiences and leverage them for good.

With this type of outlook, you can eliminate the inhibitions and limitations that often close your mind to new and exciting opportunities.

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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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