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10 Surefire Ways To Be Unhappy in Life

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10 Surefire Ways To Be Unhappy in Life

For the original full-length article by Celestine: 10 Surefire Ways To Be Unhappy in Life

Are there times when you feel beaten up and let down by life? Are there times when you feel unhappy and it seems like nothing can cheer you up?

While most of us (I assume) want to lead a happy life, many of us often do things (whether subconsciously or consciously) that make us unhappy — myself included. We may think our times of unhappiness are the result of things not going our way, but the truth is we are the ones making ourselves unhappy.

Today’s guide is to bring your awareness to top 10 things you may be doing which are directly or indirectly making you unhappy (or less happy than you can be).

Review them carefully and ask yourself if you do them. Be conscious of such occurrences and learn to deal with them in the right manner.

1. Complain (Harp on bad things that happen)

Do you have a habit of complaining when things don’t go to plan?

Living in Singapore, I’m cultivated in a complaining culture here. People tend to complain as first reaction to things that don’t go to plan. It may be complaining to friends in daily banter, complaining to family, complaining to authorities, complaining to corporations as a consumer, and so on.

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However, the real problem in many people’s complaints has nothing to do with the weather, transport, or unreasonable costs. Sure there may be a basis behind the complaints, but my point is even if those “issues” people complain about get resolved, the complaining wouldn’t stop there. People would eventually find something else to complain about, because that’s just the way they are.

Tackle “complainism” through these steps:

  1. Be conscious of times when you complain. Awareness is the first step to solving any problem.
  2. Understand the source of negativity. Out of the 1000 incidents you experience in a week, why do you complain about this particular thing/person/situation? Is there a hidden grievance waiting for you to address?
  3. Fix the offending issue. What can you do about the unhappy situation? Less talk, more action, will solve the issue.
  4. Focus on positive, not negative, things. What you give attention to will create more of the same thing. So if you spend 5 minutes being frustrated at X thing, you’re going to create more frustration, like seeds that sprout into seedlings. On the other hand, if you spend the same time on things that make you happy, that bring you joy, you’re going to get more happiness and joy.

2. Avoid your problems

Have something you can’t handle? Hide from it! Eat your heart out! Drown yourself with other activities! Sleep it away! Work! Jump into the next relationship! Put it off to a later date! Whatever you do, don’t deal with the problem!

Avoiding your problems doesn’t make you happier because it doesn’t solve anything. It only perpetuates the problems.

Instead of avoiding them, acknowledge the presence of those problems first. Then, identify baby steps to address them, and take these steps. One step, however small, is progress when made in the right direction. Refer to point #5 for a list of helpful tips to handle problems.

3. Compare with others

Do you have a habit of comparing yourself with others?

“Wow, he/she is doing so well in his/her career. I wish I can have half the success he/she has.”

“Why am I not as rich as this person? It’s not fair that there are people born into riches but not me.”

“Why does this person have everything going for him/her while I don’t?”

“Why is it that others have no problem attracting people they love while I seem to attract the worst people?”

I think it’s pointless to compare because you are not other people, and other people are not you. Rather than feel discouraged by the things others have that you don’t have, think about the life you want to have. Use others as inspiration in your vision if you want, but remember this is your vision for yourself.

Once your vision is created, take the necessary steps to realize it. Check out my seven-part successful goal achievement series on ESPER where I share my personal framework on how to achieve goals with success.

4. Worry about things that have not happened yet

There’s a line between hypothesizing scenarios to plan for the future and overwhelming yourself with self-conjured events that have not even happened yet (and possibly will never happen). When you spend all that time worrying about the future, you aren’t living in the present.

Anticipate varying scenarios and plan for them where necessary, but don’t get carried away with the bad stuff. When planning, ask yourself: “What can I do such that [X negative scenario] does not occur?” vs. getting swirled up in fear. That’s the whole point of planning – to identify steps to achieve your desired results, not to psyche yourself out.

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5. Let your problems overwhelm you

Everyone faces problems. You are not being real if you think there are people who do not face difficulties. Even for people who have “made it” (whatever you define that to be), they do so because they have learned to handle their problems, not because they don’t face problems.

6. Do things you don’t love

You would think it’s obvious that if you want to happy, you should just do things that you love.

But a lot of people don’t do that. They stay on in jobs they don’t love. They do things they don’t enjoy. They hang out with people they don’t like (see next point #7). They put up with situations they hate. Naturally, they become unhappy.

From now on, stop doing things that make you unhappy. Start doing more things that make you happy. If you don’t like your job, make plans to switch jobs. If you don’t like to hang out with X, stop hanging out with him/her. If you don’t like to eat KFC, then stop eating KFC. Take ownership of your life and stop letting other things/people rule you.

7. Stay on in relationships that no longer serve you

Are you staying on in relationships that aren’t making you happy? If so, there’s a big problem.

There’s a big difference between adapting to develop a relationship and compromising yourself to the point where you become miserable. (By relationship, I’m referring to friendships, relationships with family members, love, etc, not just romantic relationships.) If you’re constantly upset/miserable/unhappy/discouraged/disappointed/angry/frustrated in a relationship, evaluate if this relationship is one you want to stay on.

8. Try to change other people

You can never change anyone. You can do things in hopes that they will change, but ultimately it is their choice on whether they want to change or not. Doing things with the expectation that others will change is to set yourself up for unhappiness.

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Even if people do change in response to your actions, it doesn’t solve the problem. While you may be happy initially, you will find something to nitpick on after a while.  That’s because the problem isn’t them – the problem is your desire to change them. In the end, you spend half your life trying to change others, leaving only one person unhappy – you.

Your desire to change others stems from an improvement you wish to see about yourself, in your life. So rather than change others, ask yourself: “What is the change I want to see about myself, about my life?” Then, work on that. You will find that as you work through the changes, the things that used to bother you about others will no longer be an issue.

9. Try to please others

Just like changing others will not bring you long-term happiness, trying to please others will never make you happy either.

If there is someone who is displeased with you, the immediate answer isn’t to change yourself. First, understand the source of displeasure. Is it something you agree with? If it is, then you may want to work on those issues – but only because you want to do it for yourself.

If you disagree with the feedback, then stand by your viewpoint! Don’t change yourself just because someone has different expectations on how you should be. You live for yourself, not for other people.

10. Attach yourself to goals/ outcomes /things /statuses /people

Nothing is permanent. By attaching yourself to something that has not happened yet, may or may not happen in the future, and will not persist even after it happens (because nothing is forever, except our spiritual bodies), you set yourself up for unhappiness.

Rather than fixate yourself on the external world and get into a mad frenzy when it changes against your wishes, focus on your underlying intentions instead. For example, don’t attach yourself to your partner, but the intention for a loving relationship. Don’t attach yourself to money, but the notion of abundance.

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When you do that, you will become a fuller person – One who lives in the present (not the past or future), one who lives for him/herself (not for other people), one who lives as him/herself (not as what others want you to be), and one who knows what he/she stands for (not defined by objects, status, or roles).

More by this author

Celestine Chua

Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

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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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