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Published on September 30, 2020

4 Simple Ways to Make a Difference And Make This World Better

4 Simple Ways to Make a Difference And Make This World Better
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Once upon a time, you woke up and decided to become the hero of your own tale. You decided that what you have to say matters. You decided what you had to give could make a difference. And you decided that you could make this world better. There would be a happy ending.

That hero is in all of us.

Sometimes, you may forget how much you have to offer. Even the smallest good deed has a ripple effect. When you give, you develop a better perspective, peace of mind, and appreciation for life. You stop focusing on all your problems when you go out and help others. You take on tasks that others may not feel like doing. You show kindness in places that need it. You don’t overlook anyone or anything around you. There is always something you can do to help.

The key is to start where you are. And once you start helping others, you’ll want to do it again and again. There’s a study in 2012 where researchers found that upon reflecting ways one had helped another, it motivated them to want to help more people.[1] So, helping others is a little addicting. Enjoy it.

The good news is that it’s good for your health and reduces stress increasing life-expectancy, making you feel good and happier each day. If you’re a better you, there’s no telling what the world will benefit from you. And sometimes, that good comes right back to you.

1. Volunteer

Volunteering is not just a way to help others and make a difference—it serves your soul. You just feel better when you do good for others. You have a chance to uplift your community and walk into a situation shedding light on solutions. You give hope, and when that happens, you also feel better about yourself. The world can be a little better because you walked through it.

Find a cause. Find an organization. Find an interest. Take it upon yourself to seek out opportunities to make a difference. You can both volunteer and advocate for issues touched upon by an opportunity. You can become invested. The tools are right on your fingertips—a quick search online will lead you to many things. Doing good was never this easy!

Here are just a “few” places you can search for volunteer opportunities:

For a continued search of volunteer opportunities, try searching on Idealist.

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There are many other sites to search for opportunities as well. Check out your local organizations and find some that need you.

You could also start your organization, drive, or event. There are always people looking for involvement, so you can find help. Shop around a little, get some ideas that will motivate you. This is your time!

2. Find Your Calling

Your calling is what captivates you. Whether it’s through helping others or achieving something, your goals give you a better life. And your life touches the world making it better, too.

Try these 15 Ways to Find Your Calling in Life for a Meaningful Life.

There’s nothing that you can’t do and achieve. But many people get stuck somewhere in life. Along the way, wrong values, priorities, or even people can disrupt your life’s calling. It’s easy to get distracted and lose your way.

Your calling is made up of living your principals and taking action on your plans. It’s something everyone has, but not everyone rises to the occasion. You may have a goal in mind that you set to achieve.

So, how do you find your calling? Well, what’s something that you can’t live without doing? It’s like eating, breathing air—just natural. It’s what you most want, even if others tell you not to go for it.

When you find your calling, you start contributing. And that contribution affects everything. A fire that started in you can fan flames in those around you. You get others inspired. You wake up each morning ready to go, and you know you can do it because, after all, you’re the hero of your tale.

A calling can be a job, a kindness, a status, an achievement, an investment, a gift, an action, a perspective—anything that gives you satisfaction.

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You then find that you’re not alone. You step out of your comfort zone, out of your little bubble to help others. You find out that you do matter. What you do for the world matters, even if it’s little. It all matters.

Don’t feel defeated because you didn’t invent the next great thing or don’t have absolute celebrity status or influence. If you did a kind deed today as part of your calling, you are moving mountains. And that shifts the world.

3. Altruism

Your best self is when you let go of the self—you are selfless.

According to Psychology Today, selflessness takes sacrifice.[2] There may be a cost for being kind, but altruism is what changes the world. Altruism is an attitude. It an assertion of value and goals to make the world and the people around you better. It’s assisting others when they most need it.

It’s fulfilling in and of itself because you are not looking for a reward. The reward is knowing that how you treat people will leave a smile on their faces and make a difference. But sometimes, you do not get to see the benefits of what you start.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” —Greek Proverb

You may not know where to start. Just start by planting a seed. A seed of kindness that can grow over time, whether you are there to see it or not. A giant tree will come of it—a great experience, a great connection, a great solution.

A small seed of kindness becomes a tree that offers everyone shade. You may not get the shade in your lifetime, but you will be happy knowing you were the planter. That’s the beauty of altruism.

You don’t need to wait to start being altruistic. You just have to be kind. Kindness, love, compassion, support, understanding—these are the tools that an altruistic person uses, and they all come from within.

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You don’t need formal training to become altruistic. You just have to put someone or something greater than yourself before your interests. You have to move towards things that light up the world when there is so much dark.

The next time you pass that stranger, say hello. When you ask someone how they’re doing, add ”How are you, REALLY?” When you stand in line and pay for someone’s groceries or just a coffee, say “Just pay it forward” with a wink.

When you choose to be kind to one person, you turn their day around, and they WILL pay it forward. That’s how powerful altruism is—it gets everyone wanting to spread the good feeling that you gave them. Kindness is contagious—in a good way!

4. Share Your Story

Your part to play in this world isn’t insignificant. You take up space—you are allowed to have a say. Your story may be the only thing that helps someone else through similar struggles. Your pain may be someone’s point of reference for how to survive. Your passions may be the only thing that saves a life.

Yes, save a life. Sharing your story may save a life. That’s because, at the end of the day, people need hope. Hope is the reason behind great acts of kindness and good in this world. Hope can be given through the hardships you have faced.

What have you gone through that impacted you in any way? What lessons did you learn? How did you get through it? What was healing like? What have you accomplished since then?

Look to your story; you have everything you need to change the world. Your story itself will make the world a better place. You can share it however you want—a blog, an article, a video, an interview, a book, a speech, or just something you share between you and another person.

However you want to do it is up to you. It will take vulnerability and courage, but it is worthwhile because on the other side, you’ll find people who can relate and you need to know your reasons for holding on. Your resilience can be a motivator. In that way, you become a mentor.

Lives will change just because they look up to you. That’s an incredible power! And it’s yours to use anytime. Just open up—don’t worry about being perfect. Welcome flaws. Welcome failures. They are all tools for learning and growing.

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If you want to make a difference, start by seeing the value in your own story. Start by using what you’ve been through to change the world. When you do, you’ll find others following your footsteps. You may be the leader.

What’s more motivating in using our negative experiences for a positive impact? If you can’t change the past, use it. Don’t ruminate on it. Don’t live in it. Just let it be part of how you help others. This will help you heal.

As you teach others the lessons of your life, you reteach yourself. This is how to save yourself and others and serve as a reminder that we are all in this together. So, what’s holding you back?

Final Thoughts

In a way, just by BEING you, you are already doing good. As Wayne Dyer says, “you’re a human being, not a human doing.”

Just having been here, that is felt by someone. That is held onto by someone. You are making some sort of impact with your choices, your character.

Why not focus that energy into a cause you love, finding a calling, being altruistic, or sharing your story? You CAN make a difference. The world is waiting for you to shine. Let go and live through love.

More on How You Can Make a Difference

Featured photo credit: KAL VISUALS via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] GoodNet: 7 Scientific Facts About the Benefit of Doing Good
[2] Psychology Today: Altruism

More by this author

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)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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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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