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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

Why Taking Things for Granted Can Take Away Your Joy

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Why Taking Things for Granted Can Take Away Your Joy

“When you take things for granted, the things you are granted get taken.” –Unknown

Don’t let life just pass you by. Open your eyes to what is around you. You are here, at this moment—alive. But are you taking things for granted? If you are, it’s time to change all that.

It’s like in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy is told at the end by Glenda the Good Witch that she had what it took all along. That’s like you. You have what it takes, now, inside you. Your journey anywhere starts within. Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving, and with it, you can find joy.

Yet, taking things for granted can take away that joy. You lose your power and purpose. You don’t stop to smell the roses anymore. You don’t even look at them. You let go of the little things, and the rest goes with it.

But when you experience gratitude and joy, you flourish. You find yourself. You know who you are. You let yourself breathe when you feel the weight of the world on you. You learn to let go and appreciate the good rather than hold onto things that no longer serve you. And all of this is within your reach.

Here are five reasons why taking things for granted can take away your joy.

1. Selfishness

When you lack gratitude, you may find yourself thinking only of yourself. Your actions may be more selfish. You may isolate yourself from those you love and care about because you only see your needs. This action makes you more self-serving and living for the ego’s fulfillment rather than feeling true selflessness and joy.

When you have others on your agenda, you are less alone and happier. You have support, understanding, and compassion because you are also giving it. What you give comes back to you, in some way. And that is enough.

If you partake in more selfless behavior and see those around you for what they’re worth, you will be more prone to giving a helping hand. Then, you too will know that you’re not alone.

You have more reasons to live for. You have more people to share things with. You have goals that may better serve the world.

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With empathy, you can touch lives. Your own life can be transformed by being kind and considerate of those around you. But you can’t do all that if you don’t look at what you have. You have to lead with empathy, not with ego, and you will stop taking things for granted in your life. Then, you can give joy and receive it too.

2. Negative Emotions

According to Psychology Today, lead gratitude researcher Robert Emmons has found that gratitude reduces depression and increases happiness.[1] It is directly related to your mental health and the joy you feel.

This means that on a psychological level, gratitude can boost your moods and improve your overall wellbeing. Dopamine and serotonin are released in the brain, making you feel joy. However, it doesn’t take the place of psychiatrist’s recommendations if you do need medication, but it does aid anyone who tries it towards having a better life.

It’s okay to feel negative from time to time. But when you are feeling that way most of the time, you find yourself joyless and directionless. You lose sight of who you are and what you’re about. Your aims become less about your needs and more about what others expect from you.

However, a simple act of appreciation can change the outcome of your life and emotional well-being. You have feelings for a reason—they are meant to show you what you need. And if you don’t listen to them, they become louder.

Maybe the lessons your emotions are trying to teach you is to stop chasing whatever comes your way and see what you have. Appreciate how far you have come.

Mental health declines when you don’t live with gratitude. You may fall into a depression or find yourself unhappy with what you have. You may be stressed, not living for the right things, or feeling overwhelmed. You may see only your problems.

But if you choose gratitude, you also choose joy. You let in the positive and fix your focus. Your gratitude is your natural mood booster. When you see what you have, you decide to stay. You decide to keep fighting for yourself. You have a healthier attitude and way of being. This helps you overall.

This can aid with depression. This can aid with anxiety, worry, stress, and anger. You can take a step back and go, “Okay, this is what is good.” That is all you need to do to turn the situation around.

Then, you have that good with you in your heart when you make decisions. You look up with more optimism and feel lighter. You don’t have to carry everything that you’ve been carrying. Sometimes, it feels good to set it down and see what’s most important.

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3. Insecurity May Brew

If you don’t see your worth, no one can help you with that. It’s up to you to see what you have. It’s up to you to know that you may have imperfections, but that it is not the definition of who you are.

Your flaws are just another feature. They are not meant to detract from you. Your strength derives from your uniqueness in life.

Follow the path that is your own. Don’t compete or compare. Just be yourself. Make a list of not only what you have, but also what you would want someone to say to you.

For example, use positive affirmations:

  • I am worthy.
  • I am imperfectly perfect.
  • I am full of wonder and joy.
  • I know who I am.

Add to the list, and you will find yourself more able to withstand anything. Find yourself naming your wins and not focusing on your weaknesses. You summon more strength that way.

You must not take for granted the journey you’ve been on. It’s because of you, not anything else, that you are still standing here. That has to count for something.

You can feel secure by knowing that you have a lot to offer. You can choose to please others or please yourself. In the end, you have to live with yourself. And if you can do that, you’ve won.

Then, your emotional well-being will no longer suffer. Appreciation creates authenticity. Do not be focused anymore on being someone you’re not. Listen to who you are and find some value in that. That is where you can find joy.

4. Resilience May Be Stifled

What have you achieved lately that you can be proud of? Do you see your power in doing so and that anything is possible?

Resilience may be stifled if you don’t see the good that you have to offer, the tools you have around you, the people you can count on, and the opportunities available to you.

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If you decide to keep going, find some reassurance in knowing that you can be imperfect and still follow your path and make a difference.

What decisions have you made lately where you were not afraid? Are you trusting or living in fear?

Greater Good Magazine at Berkeley explores the idea of gratitude through hard times as a “psychological immune system.”[2] Gratitude acts as a shield towards what we are going through, as we become more resilient over time.

Think about the ways you have succeeded in life already, what you have to give, and use that as a shield.

See what’s around you, and that can make you realize that despite struggle and hardship, you’ve got this. You can do this. You can master this. As the poem, Invictus by William Ernest Henley goes, “I am the captain of my soul.”

If you are struggling, remember that others would easily trade places with you. It doesn’t mean that the road you walk isn’t difficult. It just means that you should appreciate what you have before it’s too late.

Nothing can shake you if you know what you have. That is truly how you find some meaning in life, no matter what. That’s how you let in the joy.

5. You’re Less “in the Moment”

When was the last time you watched a sunrise or sunset? When was the last time you really felt the rain? When was the last time you smiled at a stranger? When was the last time you really felt somethingreally felt alive?

If it’s been a while, it’s time to tap into the moment. Make it count. Because right now is all you are promised, and you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. You only know what you can give right now.

If you take things for granted, you are less “in the moment.” You are less present. You miss out on the things that matter and the people, places, events, and things that are happening because you’re not appreciating them. You miss out on the joy from the simple things.

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When you’re taking things for granted, there are consequences—the memories that could have been made fade away, the people you could have held close leave your side, and the opportunities to be your bravest, best self go away. That’s because you must choose to be here.

This is about mindfulness. Psych Central discusses how gratitude is about being mindful, observing yourself without judgment in anything you go through, and learning to show yourself some grace.[3]

Gratitude is a meditation you can do each day starting with a simple gratitude list. What do you have right now that you can use? You can also ground yourself—focus on your five senses and notice the little things you were missing before.

Living in the moment brings you what you need. You see clearer if you take the time to feel each moment. You can find gratitude in each situation, even for just being here.

It doesn’t mean it will be easy. It just means that you were here, and people will know it by how you lived your life. It doesn’t solve everything, but it’s a start.

So, stop looking away from the sunrise and sunset. Stop walking so quickly past the scenic views. Stop ignoring those who love and depend on you. It’s all happening, right now. That’s the reason gratitude works. It keeps us sane. In all the world’s madness, we know who we are because we experience that joy. That joy is yours too.

Final Thoughts

You can have joy today. Just find gratitude rather than take things for granted. Then, you will have what you need. That’s when life happens—that’s when you wake up and feel at your best because you know what you have and what it took to get here.

The world will keep spinning. But if you stop and take a look around now and then, you will see all you have.

More to Remind You to Be Grateful

Featured photo credit: Lina Trochez via unsplash.com

Reference

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Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

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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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