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10 Signs You’re Genuinely Happy (Though You Don’t Realize It)

10 Signs You’re Genuinely Happy (Though You Don’t Realize It)

The world is chasing after lavish parties, dreamy vacations, expensive weddings, weekend getaways and high-tech gadget acquisition. In wanting to be a part of the in-crowd, it’s easy to spend a lot on luxury items and the hullabaloo around them. However, in spite of the extravaganza and buzz, there may still be a part of you that doesn’t feel genuinely happy. Is this the way things are, or do you just overthink it at times?

No, don’t sulk over the lines above, they are not there to tell you what you should or should not be doing. Instead they are intended to help us understand why we think that we are not genuinely happy. Maybe your life is becoming more complicated, but there are signs that you can still be genuinely happy thanks to the simple and free (almost!) things in life.

And if you need a reminder, here is my list of the happiness-inducing simple things in life for the keeps, for the weeks and for the eternal times to be.

1. You learn something new every day.

    You may not realize this, but with everything that you learn, good or bad, you imbibe something new. Even though you might feel it’s just a part of your routine or something you had to do, learning new things can make you happy and strong. It might be something that you had been stockpiling away for a long time but never had the time to actually do. It could be something you have yearned for, not yet heard of, or something unique. It could be simple things like swimming, driving, or learning a form of dance, or something major and unfortunate like a heartbreak or passing away of a loved one.

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    2. You take a vacation all by yourself.

      Remember the time your dad taught you how to ride a bike? Well, you actually learned the skill when you figured it out all by yourself, when your dad let go his hands on your back or the handles. Similarly, you learn and experience things best when you are all by yourself. Once you take a vacation alone, you tend to find all the routes and figure out the maps by yourself. You decide on whether to laze by the beach or to take the train or the taxi. This definitely makes you genuinely happy from within. Most importantly, you learn to be fiercely independent, mindful, and enjoy your own company.

      3. You spend time with nature.

        You would never realize how much sheer happiness this one can bring you. Whether it’s the rainy season and the leaves are all drippy droopy, or the early morning when the dew drops glisten in the rays of sunlight; the sunset that gives you the endearing hope of rising again or the twilight that gives way to darkness. Nature is symbolic of life and takes away all the worries and tensions that we have in this world for a while.

        4. You love your body.

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          Remember the time you were excited to wear your favorite black dress for a date and couldn’t fit into it? Or the time you were trying to fit into your old jeans and got stuck? While you don’t want to be as skinny as a supermodel, start working on those love handles now. If you don’t get much time to exercise, you need to make the time to walk, jog, do yoga or swim in the mornings, evenings or weekends. Try to feast more on fruits, veggies and salads, but do allow yourself little treats at times. You will slowly start feeling more fresh, active and beautiful. You’ll feel happy to love and take care of your body.

          5. You start cooking.

            Studies have proven that food cooked by you own hands is more healthy, tasty and beneficial to your body than that from a restaurant or takeout. Now you may not like the taste of it initially, or find the time for it, but start slow, maybe on weekends. It’s also amazing how much you learn about different cultures just by tasting (or cooking) their cuisine. In fact you can experiment a lot when you cook by yourself and can win over your friends, your partner or your boss. Definitely an underrated pleasure and a sign of genuine happiness.

            6. You do something that scares you.

              Well, it doesn’t sound like a pleasure, at least not in the beginning, but then once you overcome your fears, you may well start slowly enjoying  something that scares you, even if you don’t realize it’s happening. I find it hard too, but past experiences have made me realize the reasons why was I was scared in the first place. It could be anything ranging from watching a horror movie, moving out of home, or traveling on a flight for the first time, to bungee jumping, scuba diving or a wild life safari. Studies have shown that the kind of hormones that get released when you have an adrenaline rush give you pleasure and are responsible for your happiness.

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              7.  You learn a language.

                Odd though it may seem, this is something simple that can make you very happy, and it rates very high on my personal list. Not only do you learn how to twist your tongue and develop a new accent, it is actually very useful and can take you places. Studies have proven that your brain starts functioning faster, you start feeling accomplished, and you inwardly get very happy once you start learning a new language. You could land a new job, make some friends, or maybe even make a new life altogether. And the amount of pleasure? Infinite.

                8. You shop till you drop.

                  Now this doesn’t necessarily mean clothes, shoes, accessories or expensive gadgets. It has been tested and proven that shopping is the best mood lifter when people are down. Shop for some cheap junk jewelry at flea markets, the groceries, art, or maybe just some books or music. It’s not just the amount of money spent on the shopping that matters, it’s the sheer pleasure, the achievement of finding a bargain, or the memories you recall when you use those things that matter and actually make you glad.

                  9. You listen to, enjoy and dance to music.

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                    OK, maybe you had a break up or a fight with your partner or just a terrible day at work. How can listening to some dumb songs or tunes make you feel better, you say? Well, it can for sure. Just turn on the radio or load you favorite playlist and hum along. Of course it isn’t going to solve any of your problems, but it can lighten your spirits and make you forget things for a while. In fact starting your day with some music is definitely going to give you the right attitude to face your problems. A spring in your step for the day and you are ready! You never realized the power of music before and how much it could make you happy, did you?

                    10. You laugh out loud a lot!

                      Remember the time when you laughed till your stomach hurt? That is a sign of a simple thing making you happy, a big one indeed. This is the oldest trick in the book and you already know about it, so what’s the big deal? But how many of us laugh about things whole-heartedly every day with all the stress and tension going on? Barely a few. The easiest thing is call up an old friend and you are guaranteed to laugh remembering the old times. Also, most importantly, don’t just laugh, laugh it off. Those funny times, those awkward times, those not so pleasant times, and the perceived problems that you are facing right now. Whenever you do so it not only increases your blood circulation and immune system, you feel better and happy.

                      Happiness is a state of mind, as a wise person once said. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the list above proves the statement to be true. Life is filled with simple pleasures, the little satisfying effects you never really anticipate, but always take great pleasure in. With very few exceptions, I believe these simple pleasures hold universal appeal. They are the gifts of life that we each subconsciously celebrate in our own unique way, though it’s easy to forget what we have.

                      Featured photo credit: Genuine Happiness in Nature via wallpapersus.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)

                      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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