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10 Signs Your Traveling Experiences Have Made You a Better Person

10 Signs Your Traveling Experiences Have Made You a Better Person
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You’ve returned from travel and are settling into your usual routine. It’s your familiar routine all right, but you’re suddenly observing things you never noticed before. It’s like seeing with new eyes. Travel experiences change you, sometimes in big ways but often, in subtle steps that will surprise you. That’s a good sign. Welcome these changes in outlook and attitude as you unveil a noticeably improved you!

10. You take photos to keep memories and share with people close to you; not to show off.

Travel is exciting, especially when it’s your first time. That’s usually when you go overboard with minute-by-minute image announcements to exhibit on social media. As you gain traveling experiences, your photos turn into meaningful slices of your personal life shared with people who know you well. You’ll intuitively select the shots you take or choose to be part of, and you won’t feel compelled to share them with everyone out there. You know it’s not a contest of been-there, done-that.

9. You keep a sense of curiosity and wonder.

The excitement settles down somewhat for frequent travelers. Unfortunately, some turn blase or even jaded. You can join the others who hold on to curiosity and wonder and who keep seeing new things. You’ll regularly go “Oh. Wow!” (jaw drop then huge smile). You’ll have an eye for observing little details—in a magnificent architecture, a famous painting, a spectacular view, the slope of a ski lift, even the crank of a zip line. Your traveling experiences bring new discoveries that fuel your curiosity for life.

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8. You easily strike a conversation, not just during your traveling experiences.

Travel brings out parts of your personality that are not apparent in your “normal habitat.” Maybe it’s because you’re more relaxed on holidays or you’re free from real or perceived social norms. You find yourself enthusiastically sharing childhood stories with strangers. You feel a kinship with the tour group you spent three days with. You make lasting connections. Your relaxed social manner spills over on your return home where your renewed interest in people allows you to easily make friends.

7. You respect culture and history.

At first, reading up on your destination may only be about required malaria shots or acceptable tipping amounts. Soon, you’ll enjoy researching cuisine, sites that are off the beaten track, local customs, and little known facts. You become mindful of and respect other people’s way-of-life. Gone are the days when you unconsciously blurt out jokes or risk gestures that could offend the locals. You gain deeper historical perspectives. You learn to appreciate your own country’s culture and understand how interconnected nations are. Traveling experiences bring out the diplomat in you.

6. You are open; there’s little room for prejudice.

People who expose themselves to various cultures embrace the differences among peoples and countries. I’ve met travelers, mostly Europeans, who avoid mixing with their compatriots not because of dislike but because they purposely want to learn about other nationalities. The more traveling experiences you add up, the more comfortable you become mingling across cultures, and the less likely you’ll tolerate ethnic jokes or negative remarks about race, religion, or gender. You’re a citizen of the world.

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5. You have a reverence for nature and the environment.

When you’ve visited a nature reserve, a natural heritage site, or any pristine piece of land or ocean, you become committed to protecting all sites. It’s no coincidence that divers, surfers, and mountain climbers are among the most environmentally concerned group on the planet. That’s because they’ve experienced the wondrous beauty of nature but have also seen the damage inflicted by humans. They regularly organize clean ups of the beaches, ocean floors, and mountain sides. Your traveling experiences change you to live the words “Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints” … always.

4. You become deeply grateful.

A couple of peak moments in my life happened during travels: on an autumn walk through the German Black Forest and while gazing at a blue summer sky from Beijing’s Great Wall. To this day, the immense feeling of gratitude from the privilege of bearing witness to natural beauty and human achievement remains intense. I remember my eyes misting up and my lips releasing a sigh of gratitude for being alive in that moment. Walking through natural sites, scaling man-made wonders, and observing animals in their natural habitat make you grateful for their presence on the planet. You learn to truly appreciate life in general.

3. You don’t sweat the small stuff.

“I wonder how I ever in my life was self-destructive because I thought my life was bad. … I really had no idea what suffering or pain is.”

—Angelina Jolie, shortly after her life-changing experience in war-torn Cambodia while filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Travel reveals how people in other places live, sometimes with few resources, limited freedoms, or everyday risks. Like Angelina Jolie, you realize that in the bigger scheme of things, your reasons for feeling discontented with life are often petty, You value life more and vow to never again let unimportant things get to you.

2. You stop being an indifferent bystander.

Your take-away from travel can be powerfully profound. It spontaneously moves you to act like the divers, surfers and mountain climbers who clean up their beloved oceans and mountains. It shows up in your choices as a consumer. You stop patronizing companies with poor environmental records, don’t watch animal shows, select synthetic versus genuine alligator/animal skin, and shun products coming from endangered species. You contribute some amount in support of animal rights, speak up against human trafficking, and do your share to avert global warming. In your own sphere of influence, you become an activist for positive change. It’s a scaled-down—but very real—version of Angelina Jolie’s global efforts to help refugees.

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1. You totally get what “travel essentials” mean.

No more packing extra sets of clothes, a dozen pairs of socks, and a complete first aid kit. It’s not that you’ve become reckless. It’s because you’ve learned to trust that what you have is enough and things will work out. You understand that surprises are part of the adventure and you’ve learned to let go. So what do you do when your connecting flight is delayed, you’re stuck overnight in the airport, and your destination hotel is about to give away your room? You get comfortable and turn to page 1 of the thriller novel you couldn’t find time to read. You observe, explore, and take interesting photos. You get ready to swap travel stories with the person next to you. You’ve got your travel essentials covered.

  • a good novel;
  • a camera;
  • an open mind;
  • a sense of humor; and
  • making the best of what comes your way.

What if your precious laptop is in your luggage that got rerouted to another destination? You thank God you’ve got most of your files in an external hard drive in your carry-on bag and pray there’s a decent business center somewhere. Then you sigh, turn philosophical, and immerse yourself in the real-life, first-hand experience of your present moment.

Long after you’ve put away your luggage, your traveling experiences stay with you in pictures, in journals, and in your psyche. They contribute to turn you into the best version of who you are, so you can navigate the biggest adventure that is your life.

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Featured photo credit: Simon via pixabay.com

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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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