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10 Most Important Things You Should Do To Simplify Your Life

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10 Most Important Things You Should Do To Simplify Your Life

There seems to be a general consensus these days that we live in a world where consumption is at an all time high. More seems to be better and somehow reflects our place in society. Success is measured by more money, a big house full of countless gadgets, cars, phones, and even by how many friends we have.

So what happened? Is the world more happy now than it was when we led more simple lives? Has the introduction of consumerism really increased our mental well-being?

The answer is NO. Everyone knows the benefits of having a good clear out – throwing out unnecessary and unwanted items can not only free up literal space around us but also frees us of much-needed space in our minds. Living a more simplified life can improve how we think, feel and move around in the world. Here are 10 ways to simplify your life while creating space for happiness and well-being.

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1. Abandon Your Negative Thoughts

As humans, we spend a lot of our time caught up in negative thoughts that brings nothing good into our lives. While we should deal with negative emotions and not shy away from them, negative thoughts are much more dangerous as they can grow rapidly and cause unhappiness and do nothing to improve our quality of life. Negative thoughts such as bitterness, resentment, jealousy and hate do absolutely nothing for us except ultimately make us miserable.

We have great control of our thoughts so choose to cut down the amount of negative thoughts and feelings you have. Learn to forgive and choose to think and see the positives in life.

2. Reduce The Amount of Screen Time

We spend so much time either staring at a computer screen or the TV. With binge-watching shows the latest addiction, we can often end up spending hours of our day with square eyes especially if, like most people, we use a computer for work as well. While TV, watching endless YouTube videos or playing computer games can be a nice form of escapism, too much can have a negative impact on your outlook and attitude. You don’t realise the amount of time you’re robbing yourself of that could be spent doing more beneficial and productive activities.

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3. Use Fewer Empty Words

This isn’t to say stop talking! However, note the types of words you utter. Are they positive? Honest? Meaningful? Or are they purely coming out of your mouth in the form of gossip, hate or jealousy? Take note of what you say – we’re not perfect and most of us have a tendency to indulge in words we know we shouldn’t use. Eliminate the empty words that bring no real meaning to what you think or want to say. Quality is always better than quantity.

4. Cut Down On Social Media

Social media is so present in our lives that there’s rarely anyone who doesn’t have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter profile. But despite there being positive aspects to social media, being constantly bombarded with ‘friend’s’ lives can take its toll on us. Sometimes when life isn’t quite going our way we compare ourselves to others but we often forget that we’re basically looking at people’s highlight reels. We never really get to see the full picture and this can cause us to feel dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Simplify your life by cutting down on social media – not only for your own sanity but to stop the endless checking every five minutes. Getting those notifications may make us feel important but it’s fleeting and empty importance that doesn’t actually add anything to our lives. You can gain a whole lot more time by having a break once in a while.

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5. De-Clutter Your Possessions

The amount of material possessions we own can have a detrimental effect on our lives. They distract you from the people in your lives and allows you to ignore the world around you and even your values. Being surrounded by stuff and having the need for the latest gadgets can often be a sign that we are focusing our happiness in the wrong way. In reality, they take away our energy and attention (and not to mention our money) that could be directed in more beneficial ways. Having less things creates more appreciation for the things we do have and cultivates a happier mindset.

6. Eliminate Your Debt

Money creates so many problems for a lot of us. Our relationship with money defines how we end up in debt, rich or poor and many of us don’t have a healthy relationship with it. If you’re in debt, start to make steps to get yourself out of it. Set up a monthly payment plan no matter how little it is. Any actions towards reducing debt, despite how small, will bring a sense of financial freedom for the next day, month or year.

7. Eat Fewer Unhealthy Foods

It’s really important to be aware of what we put into our bodies. Make a conscious effort to eliminate constant bad foods from your diet. Foods high in refined sugar, salt, trans fats, artificial flavourings, and refined grains can be toxic for us if we eat them on a regular basis. Leading a healthy life can rapidly bring down the amount of illnesses we encounter especially as we enter old age. Cutting down on bad foods will not only help you feel much better and give you more energy but it will also simplify your life in the long run.

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8. Reduce The Number Of Goals You Set Yourself

In the effort to make ourselves better people and improve ourselves we often set goals – which is great – but having too many goals can prevent us from achieving them because our focus is spread too thinly. By only having one or two important goals, your focus can be more concentrated and your success rate higher. Once you’ve accomplished your goal then start the next one – this will stop any stress and give you a sense of order and a greater sense of accomplishment once it’s done because you know you put 100% attention and effort into it.

9. Stop Multitasking and Eliminate The Need To Be Busy

Like setting too many goals, multitasking in everyday life can cause unwanted stress and anxiety. Don’t take on too much and feel that being busy means you’re leading a full life. By being busy and taking on too much, we rob ourselves of our present moment and it’s really important to be aware of our present moment to be happy. Multitasking can also lead to burn-out if we’re running around trying to do too many things at once. Simplify your life by completing one thing at a time and maybe actually sit and relax in the moments in between. This way of doing things will do wonders for your physical and mental well-being.

10. Release Yourself From Time Commitments

We often hold on to the concept of time – time is running out, the hours and days seem to pass far too quickly. We live our lives around time commitments and everything needs to be done by this or that time. Try to let go of the need to complete tasks, activities or goals in a specific time limit. Not only does this free your mind from the pressure but allows you to do things at your own pace – a pace that’ll make you feel more happy.

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Remember, findings small ways to simplify your life can make a huge difference to your mindset and outlook on life. Simplification means freeing up more time to appreciate and live in the present moment that will lead to a more free and happy mind.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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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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