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Published on August 13, 2018

16 Bogus Myths About People Skills that Popular People Already Know

16 Bogus Myths About People Skills that Popular People Already Know

Being likable, saying yes to everything, always being in a good mood… Our society is governed by rules about what’s acceptable and advisable.

How do you live up to these expectations while being a loving parent, a loyal employee and a socially active friend?

Differentiate the really important people skills from false standards.

All around us we see popular folks who are successful, have great communication skills and are always surrounded by friends. You can quickly become one of them.

Start by knowing these myths about people skills that are very alive in today’s society, but essentially not true.

1. You have to be friends with everyone?

This is a common and ridiculous myth that causes many people unnecessary stress.

So let’s get this straight. No, you don’t have to be friends with everyone.

Not everyone has to like you. And you don’t have to like everybody.

Once you truly accept that this myth is a lie, you’ll feel oh-so-relieved.

Think of it as a personal preference similar to liking or disliking certain food. There isn’t a single food in the world that every single person loves. Even if it’s the greatest steak or a heavenly honey cake, some people just don’t like meat or cakes.

Now, would you analyze what’s wrong with the heavenly cake just because someone said they didn’t like cakes?

Probably not.

So why do we do it to ourselves?

Instead of criticizing yourself, remember:

If you are trying to be liked and approved of by everyone, you risk losing your uniqueness.

You might not even want to be liked by certain types of people. At the end of the day, being loved by yourself is what truly matters.

2. You have to cling to your point of view?

Some people believe that clinging to the same rules and beliefs makes them look genuine and confident. But in most cases, flexibility is a much more important people skill that many popular people share and appreciate.

Talented communicators know how to shift gears when the context demands it, while still staying true to their personality. They can respond accordingly to what the current situation requires, even if they have to bend their principles a little or keep their thoughts to themselves.

In addition, people appreciate an open mind, as opposed to someone who stubbornly sticks to their truth. Even if you have firm beliefs, leave a window for your interlocutor’s point of view and feedback that could reinforce – or shake – your own opinions.

Being known as an open-minded person also makes you more approachable and easier to work with.

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3. You have to be hard-working to succeed?

We are not going to deny that hard work is key to achieving greatness. Indeed, it’s very unlikely that success and popularity will just fall in your lap one day.

However, today there’s a generally accepted notion that success is not about working harder.

It’s about working smarter.

In fact, one study showed that some of the most productive people have a very balanced work/rest ratio. Namely, they work intensively for 52 minutes and then fully rest for 17 minutes. The same study concluded that the top 10% most productive people were not even working 8 hour days.

If you do feel that you have to work 8 hours or more on some days, make sure you don’t overdo overtime. Studies show that overtime is generally unproductive, as humans are not able to focus for prolonged periods of time.[1]

Better have a rest, spend time with your family or friends and come back to work recharged and inspired.

4. You can find time for everything?

If you truly want to do something, you can always find time for it.

Well, not really.

Finding time for something is linked to setting priorities. If you want to take up something new, you’ll have to say goodbye to something else you’re doing. Otherwise, you’ll be juggling several things and not going “all in” on any of them.

Jason Fried, CEO of Project management software Basecamp has often stressed the difference between time and attention, naming attention his most valuable asset:[2]

“If I’m too busy to take something on, I shouldn’t say “I don’t have the time.” In fact, I often do have the time. What I don’t have – and what I can’t squeeze in – is more attention.”

And remember, not everyone deserves your attention. Before setting out for a new project, hobby or friendship, evaluate if it’s worth to invest yourself in it.

5. You always have to be in a good mood and positive?

It’s true that positive thinking is a powerful force that can even have a positive impact on your health.[3]

However, nobody can be genuinely cheerful 365 days a year. There will be days when you’ve really had enough of everything, and you might want to curl up and be alone, or even cry yourself to sleep.

Then that’s exactly what you should do.

If you’re having a bad day, don’t go out to show it off – unless you are sure that being with other people will lift your spirits. Try to show your happy face to people but don’t hide and pretend if you’re simply not in a good mood.

However, it’s a different story if your bad mood continues for weeks. In that case, you should look for a friend – or a specialist – to share your thoughts and feelings with.

6. You have to be an extrovert to be successful?

We live in a vibrant and competitive time, where communication seems to be the key to success. Because of this trend, there’s a common misconception that only the outgoing and daring people can achieve real success.

This is indeed a myth because introverted people have many other strengths that can help them become successful and popular.

Look:

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Introverts are thoughtful, interested in self-knowledge and have excellent observation ability.

Their skills like patience, ability to maintain in-depth focus and attention to detail help them reach higher productivity.

To prove this, there are numerous successful introverts in various professions and areas, from Albert Einstein to Bill Gates, JK Rowling, Steven Spielberg, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Hillary Clinton.

7. You have to say yes to everything?

From childhood, we are taught to be polite and agree to do stuff just to please other people.

But in today’s hectic age, when time is often worth more than money, learning to say “no” is a mighty skill.

If you try to please too many people too often, you have probably noticed that this tendency is stress inducing and sometimes halts your personal and professional development.

Popular people already know that being able to say “no” doesn’t mean that you’re rude or rejecting suggestions just for the sake of it. On the contrary – it shows you have an opinion, a cause, or a plan.

As Steve Jobs famously said:

“It’s only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

The art is in finding the right balance between constantly pleasing others and being a negative person who never agrees to help others.

Try to ask yourself if this task, meeting, event or activity will be beneficial to yourself or contribute to a cause you believe in?

If it won’t, just say the magic two-letter word.

No.

And you will discover how liberating it feels.

8. You should be the leader of your group?

Every group – either a workplace or a pack of friends – has many important roles besides the leader. There’s the Organizer, the Party Animal, the Mom, the Joker and many other social roles.[4] Not everyone has to be a leader of the group.

Instead of focusing on how to be a leader, work on improving your team-building skills or embrace your own unique position in the gang.

However, if you feel like your standing in the group should be raised, follow these tips to become a natural leader:

  • Take the initiative of planning and serve as a mediator between friends with different interests. If you are in charge of the plan or activity, your friends or colleagues will naturally look at you for support and guidance.
  • Invite your friends over to your house. In your own environment, you’ll naturally be a host, a guide, and a leader.
  • Suggest a common activity that you know well – thus you’ll be able to guide your group through it.
  • Help resolve issues between friends and colleagues and foster positivity.

In any case, remember that you don’t necessarily have to be a leader to be a valued member of the group.

9. You have to “know how to talk”?

People are used to words because they are the most effective means of communication.

Well…not really.

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Many studies agree that body language often dominates verbal communication.[5] In fact, we are communicating with people all the time, even when we’re not speaking.

Being mindful of what our voice, gestures, expressions, and appearance are communicating can significantly enhance or harm our people skills.[6]

10. You always have to be available?

If you’re a person of many responsibilities at work and home, you probably feel that you have to be reachable 24/7.

However, too many people counting on you can be tiring and annoying.

If your colleagues don’t take any decisions before consulting you, or if your kids call you every time they cannot find something around the house, you have to draw that line in the sand.

First, tell your colleagues that you are not available after working hours or ask them to send text messages instead of calling.

Keep your phone on in case something important comes up, but refrain from constantly being available on social media and messaging platforms. You will discover that blocking social media sites for a while can be very rewarding and soothing for your nerves.[7]

11. You have to agree with everything that senior or authoritative people say?

Since childhood, we’ve been told to listen to elders, do what the teachers say and not question the opinion of scholars and authorities.

As adults, we have to decide for ourselves.

Surely, you should be appreciative towards advice given by someone who has unique experience or knowledge about a particular topic. However, you shouldn’t take any external opinion as a universal truth.

In fact, Albert Einstein was notorious for disregarding any authority and was frequently punished for it in his youth. But it was this contempt for authority that made him challenge many existing beliefs and come up with groundbreaking discoveries.

He famously said:

“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”

12. You should go with the flow?

“Going with the flow” can be a good strategy in some situations.

But it probably won’t get you far.

Successful people are not afraid to take up more responsibility and change the course of events.

As Sigmund Freud said:

“Most people do not really want freedom because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”

If you want to succeed, take up the reins of your life. Leave going with the flow for weekend parties and holidays.

13. You should keep your problems to yourself?

Nobody likes a person who always complains and only speaks about their problems. But keeping all your troubles inside can be equally harmful.

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Not to your public image, but to your mental and physical health.

Several studies have confirmed that suppressing negative emotions can lead to heart diseases and certain types of cancer.[8]

If anger, depression, and anxiety are building up inside you for a prolonged period of time, make sure to find someone to talk to, as well as switch to a healthier lifestyle.

Even if your sources of worry and stress are more mundane, talking to someone can help you to release tension and look at the problem from a different perspective.

14. You should be spontaneous and fun?

People are created differently. Some of us are great at improvising and entertaining while others are planners, organizers, and thinkers. A healthy group of friends or colleagues will embrace both and many more character types.

It’s true that a great sense of humor is a valuable people skill.

However, sometimes understanding jokes is even more important than making them. And it’s definitely better not to make jokes at all than try to force them.

When you are with your friends or colleagues, just relax, observe the people around you and their reactions. And follow these tips for leading more effectively with humor.

15. You should be patient all the time?

Sure, patience is an admirable quality – it’s even listed among the seven Christian virtues. However, there is a point where patience can get confused with submissiveness, procrastination or even laziness.

If you are waiting for things to happen, instead of working (or even fighting) towards your goal, you are losing an opportunity, not being patient.

If you are in a relationship that doesn’t work and “patiently” waiting for something to change, you are misleading yourself and evading a decision.

If you are stuck at work that isn’t rewarding and promise yourself to “do something about it next year,” you are not being patient. You are procrastinating and depriving yourself of happiness.

16. You should be modest?

Humility is another heavenly virtue often misunderstood. When do you cross the line between being politely modest and overly humble and sheepish?

If you keep telling people that you or the work you do are “nothing special”, they will most probably believe you. But how do you find the midway between bragging and underestimating yourself?

First of all, you have to keep in mind who’s your interlocutor. For example, you probably shouldn’t discuss your promotion with someone who just lost their job.

Second, when someone asks about your achievements don’t make them sound like “nothing special” – not even if you’re joking. Explain why what you do is important, but don’t make all the evening conversations about it.

Take advantage of the people skills you already have

Before you start striving to develop certain people skills, take a deeper look at yourself.

You definitely already have precious character traits that differentiate you from the people around you.

So stop thinking about what you SHOULD be. Instead, make the most of who you ARE.

And forget bogus myths that make you feel like you aren’t living up to some imagined standards.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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Ieva Baranova

Ieva helps tech startups access big markets and is a passionate advocate of alternative work formats.

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Last Updated on May 20, 2019

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

We sometimes hear people talk about the importance of living in the moment. We might hear about the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly racing?

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then we’ll look at some of the obstacles, and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

Why Live in the Moment?

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

Living in the moment has innumerable benefits. Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

Better Health

By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being.[1]

Improve Your Relationships

Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally he’s a million miles away?

Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and makes relationships with them extremely difficult.

How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with him because we can make a much deeper connection with him.

By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

Greater Self-Control

You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind, and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier.[2]

Why Do We Worry?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

We sometimes worry when we don’t know how to deal with a problem. For example, have you ever received a letter from the IRS telling you that you owe more money than you thought, and don’t have the funds to pay it? This is enough to scare anyone who is not familiar with taxes.

How to Live in the Moment

Step 1: Overcome Worrying

In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

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Learn How to Live in the Moment

By living in the moment, you calm your mind, and are able to see more clearly.

The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. So we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, living in the moment will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions.

Learn to Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

People with higher educations tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, and outside influences.

Racing Mind

Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell) will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind, and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down. And an agitated mind wants to go to another place and time.

Unpleasant Situations and Troublesome Past

None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

By doing whatever we can to avoid them, and we can avoid them by taking our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

Some people resort to doing things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as eating, alcohol or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind, and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

A Wandering Mind

From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. So it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. As noted above, one thought starts an endless chain of thoughts. The reason is that one thought reminds us of something else, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function, or until we get distracted with something else.

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Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities.[3]

Outside Influences

Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The news media draw our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future.[4]

Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

Understand Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful IS to live in the moment.

When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment. When you are mindful, you are fully in touch with reality because the present moment is where reality is taking place.

You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

This may be counter-intuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then much of our understanding will come from simply observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

You’d be surprised to find out just how much your emotions and past experiences influence your judgments. What many of us do, including intellectuals, is make a quick judgment about a person or situation, then add the reasoning afterwards. That is not logic, but rather rationalization.

When you are mindful, you reserve judgment until you have more information. Notice how I said “more information,” and not “complete information.” It is impossible to have complete information about something because there are infinite numbers of factors affecting it. So the best thing to do is be as objective as possible, and always be open to new information.

Viewing the world in this manner can be a challenge, and takes some practice to overcome years of habitual thinking. But it can make our lives infinitely more fulfilling, as we’ll be able to make much better decisions that will result in real happiness and inner peace.

So if you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your busy life to help you live in the moment, that is, reality.

You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you, and suit your lifestyle.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath, and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

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You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to give your mind a rest from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: How to Practice Mindful Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts

Also, there are many good books on the market that explain the concepts and techniques in greater detail. Some examples are

Mindful Breathing

While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Mindful Walking

Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting, or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

Instead of getting on your cell phone, or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking for training yourself to live in the moment?

Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing. But instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable, and can really help your mind settle down.

Mindful Eating

Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. So what many of us do is try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss.[5]

So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

  • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
  • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself. Ask yourself, “Is this what my body and mind need to be healthy, and perform at an optimal level?” “Is it sufficient, or too much?” By asking yourself these questions, you will be more inclined to make better choices in the future.
  • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

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Mindful Activities

Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander, or get distracted. When it does, then just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

Notice some of the specific movements, or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

Bonus Suggestion

Here is one activity that is not generally considered a mindful activity. It is physical training. For those of you who already workout, it may be easy to see how physical training requires you to live in the moment.

Here’s how it works:

In order to perform an exercise to get the desired benefit, you need to use a proper technique. In order to use the proper technique, you need to pay close attention to how you are doing the exercise. In other words, you need to be fully present in the moment.

Another aspect of training that helps you live in the moment is tuning into what is happening in your body. First, during exercising, you need to pay close attention to how your body feels. Are you exercising hard enough, or not enough?

There are times to go easy, such as during warm-up exercises; and times to push yourself hard, such as when you’re warmed up and want to stimulate growth.

Second, when you’re not in the gym training, you need to pay close attention to the signals your body is sending you. What nutrients and how much do you need to consume to support your training? How much rest do you need?

By tuning in to your body, you force yourself to be in the moment. So, physical training done properly is just about as effective as meditation, or any mindful activity, for developing mindfulness. It’s also great for your health.

Final Thoughts

Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time. And this will add up to greater peace and happiness.

Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning; but I can assure you, it will get easier fairly quickly.

The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying; and when you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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