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10 Unexpected Things That Make You A Better Person

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10 Unexpected Things That Make You A Better Person

There is little incentive to develop yourself when life is nothing but puppy dogs, rainbows, and gum drops. It is the hard times (not the good ones) that show us what we’re really made of. Here is a small sample of unexpected things that make you a better person.

1. You are a member of the broken-hearts club.

Just because one relationship ended doesn’t mean you are doomed to be lonely forever. It is never wise to place the full weight of our happiness and well-being on the shoulders of another person. You might feel incapable of loving another person right now, but the feeling will pass. Being single will teach you to be more self-reliant and independent. Enjoy the alone time and get your inner-house in order before you invite anyone else to it.

2. You seriously dropped the ball in your relationship.

May I confess something kind of personal? A few years ago, when I was a young and stupid college kid, I cheated on a past partner. I can remember precisely what it sounded like when she cried. I felt so bad about this that I ended up sending her apology letters every now and then for YEARS after the fact. My failure taught me a hard lesson in how selfish actions can hurt other people. Am I happy it happened? Hell, no. But I know it won’t be a repeated mistake, because I never want to make a person feel that way ever again. If you screwed up in some way:

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1) Admit it.
2) Apologize.
3) Explain yourself.
4) Ask for forgiveness.
5) Move on.

Will the other person forgive you? It’s hard to say. But if you perform the above steps, there is little more you can do. Swallow the bitter pill and get on with your life.

3. You lost all faith in (insert God/Goddess/deity here).

First: I know the feeling. I went to a Christian college only to discover I was an atheist in my third year there. This realization came about during a bout of depression, where I stayed awake into the middle of the night, praying as hard as I could. The problem? I couldn’t shake the feeling that no one was listening to me on the other end. I felt alone in the dark, as if I was talking to myself. Losing my faith really sucked at first, but I came out with a stronger sense of independence and personal responsibility. You can also look forward to an improved ability to relate with Christians, atheists, and every religion in between.

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4. You feel so very alone in the world.

Do not wait for someone to fix you (unless you want to be waiting forever). You are the CEO of your life. Feeling alone in the world isn’t fun for anybody. But when you take control of your life, you will discover you’re more powerful than you ever imagined.

5. You faced a harsh rejection.

You applied for a job posting that sounded like it was written for you (only to receive a cold rejection e-mail the day after the interview). You asked out a person who you felt was a perfect match (only to be told “sorry, I just don’t see you that way”). You turned in a paper you felt was worthy of an “A” (only to receive a slap-in-the-face in the form of a “C” and snarky written remark from your jerk professor). The specifics notwithstanding, nothing makes you feel inadequate like rejection. But there is a glimmer of hope here: the more rejection you face, the less it will sting. I feel qualified to say this as a freelance writer and theater actor. The harsh reality of my life? I have been rejected for more writing gigs and acting roles than I’d like to admit. But it is what it is and I refuse to let it drag me down. Being turned down for a job used to make me feel insufficient, but today I don’t even flinch. Do likewise.

6. You realized most people don’t give a crap about you.

It’s harsh but it’s true. Most people are only interested in what you can do for them. The sooner you can learn this, the more you can focus on the people who truly appreciate you for who you are.

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7. You are struggling with no end in sight.

I’m not going to pretend to know how you feel or what you’re going through because I don’t, so I’ll spare you the hokey feel-good pep talk. But let me say this: if you’re going through something that makes you feel sad, angry, stressed, or lost… I’m sorry to hear it. That could be a mental or physical ailment, an unfortunate accident, a lost job, or just about anything. But no matter what you are going through, don’t give up hope. Channel your energy into helping other people facing the same struggle that you are. Helping others will make you feel happy and productive (plus you’ll learn that you are far from alone in the world).

8. You learned happiness isn’t a tangible thing.

“If only I had a better job/relationship/friends/body/car, then I would be happy!” Sound familiar? I hate to break it to you, but none of these things are going to make you feel any better. Do they offer temporary gratification? Sure. But life-long happiness? Probably not. Happiness is not a destination you can arrive to. It is a journey (as well as a choice) and just like any other journey, it has its highs-and-lows.

9. You feel like crying your eyes out.

Do it and without a single iota of shame. When is the last time you had a good cry? If you just paused for 10 seconds while deliberating, that means it has been far too long. Holding in your emotions will make them intensify, creating mental monsters that will be much harder to deal with later. Letting your tears come out without objection will help you relieve stress and drop the baggage that’s holding you back.

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10. You don’t know who you are anymore.

Coming to terms with the fact that your concept of self is shallow can be a shattering experience. Waking up to discover the petty, little words you use to describe yourself lack any true meaning can be a harsh slap-in-the-face. But realizing where you live, work, and worship is but a mere drop in the ocean of who you are opens the door for limitless self discovery and personal transformation. In other words: the real fun starts now. If you want to be a better person who strives to be the best human being they can be, consider this your invitation. Are you in?

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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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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