“I’m just living the dream.” Chaz Reinhold (Will Ferrell), The Wedding Crashers
Maybe your dream isn’t to be a 40-year-old wedding crasher who still lives with their mom, but I think it’s safe to say that each one of us has a shadow of an unfulfilled wish, dream or desire. In fear of being ridiculed or vulnerable, we might keep this dream tucked in the deepest part of our junk drawer, but it’s always there, ready to surface if one day the right circumstances fall into place.
Do you ever find yourself saying, “If only I knew then what I know now, I would do things so much differently.”
Do you ever look in at your life and wonder where you could have swerved wildly left to lead you down a different, more thrilling path?
As we approach the end of 2013, it’s a good time to evaluate a few important questions:
- Did you accomplish everything you set out to do this year?
- What would truly make your life meaningful and fulfilled?
- Are your current experiences in line with your desires?
- If you could do anything, what would it be?
Ponder these questions with uncensored thoughts and formulate some new intentions.
I think it’s important to realize that sometimes changing your life from bleak and mundane just means taking away the blur that is clouding your life. See 15 Ways to Lead a New Life you Love.Advertising
With a new year approaching, there is no better time to follow your dreams, no matter how big or small. Check out these things that people who live their dreams don’t do so that you can be one step closer to ‘living the dream’.
1. They don’t follow someone else’s dream.
This might seem like common sense, but many of us follow the dreams set up for us by our parents, partners or friends. You might be a people pleaser, or you might be afraid of letting your loved ones down. Are you lacking when it comes to trusting that you know what’s best for you?
People following their dreams know what they want, and they stand up to others who try to push expectations onto them.
2. They don’t make excuses.
How often do you find yourself coming up with a rainbow of reasons why you can’t achieve your goals or live the life you’ve been dreaming of? Do you even tell yourself elaborate stories about why things didn’t work out?
Where do you find yourself making excuses in your life?
Does it serve you? If not, let it go and simply vow to try each day to be better.
3. They don’t compromise their values or principles.
Compromising is a huge part of our everyday life – compromise, compromise, compromise.Advertising
You will be asked to make many compromises in many facets of your life, relationships, kids, friends and family, and what you’re willing to compromise can in fact play a huge role in your future – but never compromise your values.
People living a life true to themselves are not riddled with guilt, regret or doubts about their choices, they stand firm and move forward with decisions that align with their intentions, goals and dreams.
4. They don’t believe the glass is half empty.
Negativity will only build walls around you. A positive attitude is everything. The glass is always half full. With this attitude, opportunities and abundance will naturally flow into your life. Put your energy on what you want, rather than what you don’t want.
Your thoughts are single-handedly the most important weapon you have in achieving your dreams. Your thoughts are like energy, driving your life. People living the dream are always positive and this naturally manifests positive energy and positive results.
If you think you are beaten you are; if you think you dare not, you don’t; if you want to win but think you can’t; it’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose you’re lost; for out of the world we find success begins with a fellow’s will; it’s all in a state of mind.
Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger and faster man, but sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can. ~ Author Unknown
5. They don’t focus on materialism.
If your dream starts with wanting to make a lot of money so that you can be happy, you might want to re-evaluate your priorities. Of course you can achieve great wealth, but chances are you won’t be any happier once this golden paycheck arrives.
People who are living the dream know that money can’t buy happiness, and they also understand that a life of status, wealth, fame and popularity is a very fragile house of cards.
If wealth comes as a result of living your dream – bonus. But people who live their dreams know it’s not the initial driving factor.
6. They don’t believe things are impossible, they don’t lose faith and they don’t quit halfway.
Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe. ~ Gail Devers
Our mind is a powerful weapon. It’s normal to have self-doubt or feel like something is out of reach, but those who achieve big things see through this doubt and persevere long after others would have quit. Have a solid faith in your intentions.
Nothing is impossible. You might have to work really hard and sacrifice a lot, but chances are that just by trying, you will open up doors of new opportunities that you never thought possible.
7. They don’t let themselves go.
Follow your dreams, work hard, practice and persevere. Make sure you eat a variety of foods, get plenty of exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle.~ Sasha Cohen
Staying physically fit and eating a balanced diet is the key to feeling good and without feeling good your dreams may not amount to much. Exercising also produces energy which will help you keep persevering.
8. They don’t get stuck in a safe space.
Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. ~ Anais Nin
You need to get out of your comfort zone and take some chances. If your dream is to learn to surf, you need to lose the fear holding you back and just do it.
People following their dreams thrive on new experiences. They are living their life, not being a spectator to the lives of others.
9. They don’t procrastinate or believe in shortcuts.
Why wait until January 1st to start making changes? Start today. People who live their dreams don’t just talk about it, they take steps every day to bring their desires into reality.
There is no such thing as a shortcut. If you want to be physically fit, you have to do the work; quick fad diets are not the answer, and this goes for any dream. Put in the work and you will reap great personal rewards.
10. They don’t seek a destination.
People living a life dreams are made of realize that living is about moment to moment experiences; they love the journey and don’t obsess over the destination.Advertising
Last Updated on January 15, 2019
How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward
Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?
In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
Step right up, don’t be shy!
Table of Contents
Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers
The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:
Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers
Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers. Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!
A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.
Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary
Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.
When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.
We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.
I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.
The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.
Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness
Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.
1. Broadens Your Network
After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.
2. Improves Your Communication Skills
I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.
Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.
3. Continually Learning
So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.
Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.
4. Increases Self Confidence
Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.
Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.
So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?
How to Talk to Strangers
Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
1. Say Hello
Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.
Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.
Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.
2. Ask About Them
Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.
You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.
As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.
3. Just Do It
One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.
When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.
Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.
4. Don’t Take It Personal
One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.
When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.
5. Get a Chuckle If Possible
I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.
One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.
A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.
Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.
7. Share Your Stories
Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.
To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.
So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.
8. Give a Compliment
Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.
When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.
9. Relax Your Body Language
If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.
When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.
If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice
Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.
After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.
The Bottom Line
As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!
There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.
Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.
More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- 12 Tactics to Negotiate Better and Not Be a Pushover
- 7 Most Important Communication Techniques to Master in the Workplace
- How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way
- How to Handle Rejection and Overcome the Fear of Being Rejected
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com
|||^||Dev Psychobiol.: Adrenocortical responses to strangers in preschoolers: relations with parenting, temperament, and psychopathology.|
|||^||Psychology Today: Cortisol: Why the “Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1|