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How to Be Happy in Life (Despite Your Circumstances)

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How to Be Happy in Life (Despite Your Circumstances)

How to be happy despite your circumstances… What a loaded topic and like all big topic, it has to start with a big eye opening mind blowing statement and for happiness, it is this:

You choose to be happy.

Happiness isn’t found; it’s created, forged and chosen. You don’t attain happiness by having a perfect job, house and life. You choose to wake up and appreciate what you have and you choose to be happy by building a life that makes you happy.

Where Do You Start?

Obviously, we don’t all live our #BestLives. Sometimes circumstances out of our control and bring us down, make us hit rock bottom. Bankruptcy, divorce, discrimination, death, destruction and false accusations, need I go on? The world is a rather unpleasant and harsh place at times.

At that point you ask me, well how do I choose to be happy when the world is so seemingly cruel?

You look at what you have, where you want to go and make the next step forward.

Life is about one thing, perspective. Your perspective shapes your reality, so all you have to do is change your perspective on life.

Your life is a combination of loads of ideas planted in your head and you see the world through it. When we are born, we are a blank slate, just a white piece of paper. As children, our opinions and values are mostly boys are gross, transformers are the best, I love my mom.

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But as we grow, others embed us with their views, ideals and values and every week, a new value is planted and sprouts, blocking your view of who you are. That once white piece of paper is full of other peoples drawings. Eventually we are lost, no idea where your home is, blinded by all of these other peoples values and opinions that we have taken on as our own.

So we stumble through life, saying things we don’t really know why we say it or why we even believe it and we wonder why we are so unhappy. All we want to do is be at home, safe and happy, like when we were children, when life was less complicated, confusing and conflicted.

The only way to get home, to happiness, is to erase some of those ideals that no longer serve you so you can see a little clearer. Ideals planted like, we will never be good enough, based on an experience you had as a child. Or you once failed at a basketball game and you were public humiliated by the coach and now you are convinced you will never be good at basketball. These values and experiences, are hindering your happiness because they aren’t truth. They are just stories you think are truth.

Let’s take the basketball example, sure, you once sucked at basketball, that doesn’t mean you will always suck. With enough practice, you could be great if you actually tried and decided you were going to be instead of just saying you will always be bad at it.

So how do we make being happy easy? Life is only as difficult as you make it. So what can we do to start flipping your mindset?

1. Choose It

Happiness like all things, is created and chosen; so the first thing you need to do is commit to choosing happiness.

It isn’t the easiest path, you will have to let things go, not let things to get to you and you will have to fight the impulse to be negative, to be the victim.

Happiness is a life long commitment and like all good marriages, you have to put in continuous effort to uphold the value of your spouse.

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Happiness needs to be appreciated while you have it because it can be fleeting, the world isn’t always as kind as you are.

This article can help you to choose happiness easier: How to Always Choose Happiness Even During Tough Times

2. Show Gratitude for Your Life and Everything You’re Blessed with

You are incredibly blessed in your life. We all sit and decide that we suffer, we are victimized and we are failures but look around you:

You have running water, medical care on request, enough money to survive, loving people around you.

You have more than you are choosing to acknowledge because you are so caught up in what you don’t have, you are taking for granted all that you do have.

So take a moment and look around and every day, write down, think, say and show how much you appreciate at least one thing.

Gratitude can be addictive once you realize all you truly have, happiness will follow the sweet sound of gratitude.

Here’re more reasons to feel grateful: 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For

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3.  Change the Stories You Tell Yourself

We are a collection of our stories, the stories we tell other people (the times we were super cool) and the stories we tell ourselves (every failure or awkward interaction we have ever made).

We are what we say we are. If you tell someone you are an honest person, people will think you are an honest person. If you tell yourself you cannot do something, you will not be able to do it.

You Are Your Stories. What stories have you been telling about your life? The story of a failure? A loser? In recent society, it is popular to be the victim, to be the underdog because in the movies, the underdog wins in the end. But the underdog wins by getting over their complex and doing what is right and brave, and they write their own story.

So throw away the book you keep rereading about your awkward, embarrassing and devastating screw ups, those tales of loss, pain and heart ache, ditch them. I never endorse burning books but in this case, throw them on the pyre.

You aren’t a combination of your bad experience but you are acting like it, it is time to ask who you are underneath those experiences.

Who Are You? And who do you want to be now? Because the beauty of writing your own story is that you can choose it. You can say, hey, I am not a loser, I am a strong person. I don’t have anxiety anymore because I do everything I can to make sure I don’t feel anxious. I am a fit person, I go to the gym.

Find a story that would make you happy, then show up as the main character everyday.

Write your story and make sure its a happy one, which leads us to…

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4. Build the Life You Want

A reason you may not be happy is because you aren’t living the life you truly want. You are living in authentically and that is fine but, if you want to be happy, you have to live in alignment with your authentic values.

Decide who you want to be, what life you want to lead and then make a plan to go get it: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

Make a plan so you do something small every day to build towards that dream life and know that when you get there. You may feel happier by doing this but remember, life is a journey and you have to appreciate the climb, not just the view from the top.

The most important thing you will ever learn is this:

You will never be happy if you think something else will make you happy.

A new job won’t make you happy, neither will a new partner, house, holiday, object, pet. That’s not happiness, that’s a chemical reaction in your brain.

Happiness in long term is a choice to enjoy and appreciate those things, everyday, even when the going gets tough and you aren’t where you want to be, you didn’t get that job, well you still got one. You partners not appreciating you? Well, appreciate them first and encourage them to do the same.

Final Thoughts

Happiness is in your control. It’s a mental choice to see the positive in the negative. One thing I’ve learned in my life is that everything I was rejected, I was being redirected to where I was meant to be and when I suffered, it was so I could learn something to make me a better person.

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Struggle is growth and strength, struggle is where happiness is forged. No matter how difficult, painful or hard your circumstances are, there is always something to be grateful for and you deserve to be happy, if only you choose to be.

More About Happiness

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Jade Nyx

Qualified Life Coach

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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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