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10 Ways To Clean Your Life Before The Refreshing Spring Season

10 Ways To Clean Your Life Before The Refreshing Spring Season

“Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!” – Robert Orben

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’” – Robin Williams

Spring is a time for pruning, cleaning and getting rid of the dreariness of winter. Time to clean your life before the refreshing spring season gets into full swing. Follow these 10 ways to really get the benefits of new hope, love and adventure.

1. Declutter your space.

Imagine spending a whole year of your life looking for things. According to Harper’s Index, this is the time that Americans waste because they have not learned the art of decluttering at regular intervals. It becomes even more difficult when your partner is a hoarder.

Here are my top five tips for managing clutter, so you are not overwhelmed when you have to face a major decluttering:

  1. Use the ‘One in, two out’ rule. For every new thing you acquire, make sure that you trash or donate two objects you are no longer using. No problem here as regards clothes, as Americans are using a mere 20% of what is in their closets.
  2. Show no mercy with anything that is damaged or broken. It will never come in handy and it never did!
  3. Donate all the presents you never really liked, or even used, to the charity shop.
  4. Keep everything that you love and that you use very often. Anything else will have to go.
  5. Tidy bills and mail into labeled box files and keep them in the room where you actually deal with them.

Once you have that under control, you will save time, energy, and feel much less burdened.

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“Clutter is stuck energy. The word clutter derives from the Middle English word ‘clotter,’ which means to coagulate – and that’s about as stuck as you can get.” – Karen Kingston

2. Get up early.

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Ben Franklin

Being an early riser is a great way to get your spring renewal process off the ground. There are several advantages to it:

  • You are much more energetic in the morning.
  • You will be in a better mood.
  • You are making more time for the best part of the day.
  • You will be able to think more clearly.
  • You can enjoy a more relaxed schedule.

3. Close toxic relationships.

If you feel that your partner is domineering and not allowing you space to grow as a person, this could be a sign that you are in a toxic relationship. It may be time to close, especially if you are miserable or uncomfortable. As the lack of support becomes more and more evident, it means that you are being deprived of energy, love and growth.

4. Find a passion.

Ask yourself this question: “How many of my friends tell me that I am great fun to be with and that they always feel better when they are with me?” Now if you answer that this never or rarely happens, it most likely means that you have not got a passion.

When you have a passion, the enthusiasm for it is infectious. You talk about it, and you tell your friends about your latest successes. This could be as banal as breaking your previous record in the marathon or getting your poem accepted for publication.

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Spring is the ideal time to start looking for a passion that will get you out of a rut, which represents dullness, boredom and a lack of inspiration.

5. Time to forgive yourself.

Why do you hate yourself so much? Why do you criticize yourself for all those screwups you made?  Anger, hurt and resentment are the results of this relentless self-criticism, which goes on night and day. The secret is to learn how to let the resentment go. It is when you no longer feel anger and pain that you have learned to forgive yourself. Lots of studies on forgiveness have revealed its healing effects and health benefits.

6. Get rid of grudges.

Think of the grudge you have against your boss, your partner or a friend who let you down. What are the feelings that are swilling round in your head? Here are a few:

  • Spite
  • Hurt
  • Anger
  • Malice
  • Envy
  • Frustration
  • Unworthiness
  • Loathing.

That list makes the acronym SHAMEFUL. Now that is a toxic cocktail! You may even be talking about it, too, and spreading the pollution via friends and close acquaintances.

Now here’s the thing. This negative cesspit is destroying you and not the person who hurt you. Even the malicious rumors you want to spread about that person are water off a duck’s back. In the meantime, you are the one who is drained, poisoned and exhausted. Time for closure. Let it go.

7. Time for new opportunities.

“Closed mouths don’t get fed.” – Kenneth Zakee

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Tried that new recipe yet? Have you thought about taking up a new sport? Is your holiday destination always the same country or continent? How about changing your home environment? Get out of the rut before it collapses on top of you.

A great idea is to brainstorm with a friend and also to let them know what you are going to try. This also means that you have to report back to them, so it makes you accountable.

What is the bottom line? You want to rediscover new growth, joy, curiosity, and a sense of wonder. That is what spring is all about, isn’t it?

8. Create your own challenge.

Setting up a challenge is a great way to get rid of toxic things in your life and to replace them with something that is going to do you a lot of good. You can set the number of days to 15, 30, or whatever you like. You will be healthier, wiser, better humoured, and much more relaxed. Here are some ideas:

  • Decide social media time; once a day for a set period of time.
  • Cut out swearing – use neutral words if you can.
  • Turn off your cellphone after dinner.
  • Start walking every day if you are a couch potato.
  • Limit your exposure to bad news – stick to one news bulletin a day.
  • Phone a good friend every day.
  • Do one act of kindness every day for someone less fortunate than yourself.

Set yourself some goals. Think: “By the beginning of summer I will have lost X lbs and will be much fitter.” “By the end of June, I will have my social media addiction totally under control.”

9. Manage your time better.

Spring is all about things growing quickly and energetically in a short space of time. Can you match that? If not, look for better ways to manage your time:

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  • Change your lunch break so that you can work better when there are fewer coworkers making noise.
  • Consider changing your timetable, if you can. Discover what works best for you. Maybe an earlier start?
  • Discover your peak time when you work best. Reserve that for the most challenging tasks.
  • Prepare your morning stuff the night before. It makes the early morning exit a breeze.
  • Make a list of doable, daily tasks and review them at the end of the day.

10. Motivate yourself daily.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last, well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

The secret of maintaining motivation is to be able to generate positive and upbeat thoughts about what you have achieved, every hour and every day. If you can do that, you will be able to shoot down the negative thoughts before they take over. Have a great spring!

“Yesterday ended last night. Today is a brand-new day. And it’s yours.” – Zig Ziglar

Featured photo credit: Springtime flowers/Bea via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

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!

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.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
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.

Culturally Conditioned

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

6. Detach

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.

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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

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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