“Man has a dream, and that’s the start. He follows his dream with mind and heart. And when it becomes a reality, it’s a dream come true for you and me” – Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”
Dreamers can drive you crazy sometimes with their perky dispositions, their endless energy, and their glass half-full attitude. If you have someone in your life—a friend, a family member, or a spouse—who always seems to have their head in the clouds, convincing them to put pragmatism before pink, fluffy positivity can seem as possible as moving a mountain with telekinesis. The truth is that some of the world’s most celebrated individuals—from inventors like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell to leaders of change like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi—were dreamers and they devoted their lives to achieving those dreams, whether inventing electric light or establishing world peace. Despite their quirks, dreamers make our world a brighter, more convenient, and much more entertaining place. Here are fifteen things to keep in mind if your loved one is a dreamer.
1. They have endless imagination
If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, you’ve probably ridden the Carousel of Progress, which first debuted at the New York World’s Fare in 1964. Celebrating some of the greatest inventions of the late 19th and 20th centuries like electric light, the phonograph, in-door plumbing, and television; the ride takes us on a journey through the 20th century with an American family, watching as technology transforms their lives. In addition to showcasing the work of inventors like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, the Carousel of Progress encapsulates Walt Disney’s belief in the immortality of the American Dream. Beyond being a fantasy land where animals talk and you can get your picture taken with a gigantic mouse, Disney World is a celebration of imagination. A simple sketch of a talking mouse and an idea in a man’s brain turned into a global enterprise that has brought joy to millions all over the world. Encourage imagination in your loved ones, especially your children—Their crayon drawings might give us the world’s next Mickey Mouse.
2. They don’t do well with deadlines
Dreamers are very often creative visionaries—painters, sculptors, or poets. They move when the muses motivate them, not according to a fixed schedule. It took Michelangelo four years to paint the now-famous frescos in the Sistine Chapel, and when Pope Julius (who’d commissioned the work) asked when Michelangelo would finish, the artist replied, “When I can.” The wait was well worth it of course, because the frescos have held up reasonably well over the centuries. Maybe Michelangelo found painting in a cramped position on a scaffold extremely uncomfortable? Maybe he just liked pushing the Pope’s buttons. Whatever the reason, remember that bringing a dream to fruition takes time. If your friend’s business is taking a while to get off the ground, or your cousin seems like he’s never going to finish his Ph.D., think of the Sistine Chapel.Advertising
3. They’re not the most economical people on the planet
Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632 to 1675) was another dreamer who didn’t do well with deadlines, much to the irritation of his family. Extremely meticulous and detail-oriented, Vermeer produced only two or three paintings a year, which made supporting his wife and eleven children a bit of a challenge. Vermeer died in debt in 1675 at the age of 43 but remains a celebrated artist, famous for works like “The Girl with a Pearl Earring,” which inspired a historical novel by Tracy Chevalier and a film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. You might do well to remind the dreamer in your life that dreams alone won’t pay the bills, but dreamers usually aren’t in it for the money.
4. They sometimes have tunnel vision
Returning to Michelangelo, he first rejected the Sistine Chapel commission, insisting that he was a sculptor and not a painter. Had he not eventually accepted the job we might never have had the pleasure of viewing his beautifully-painted frescos, and the Sistine Chapel’s attraction might have been less prominent. Sometimes dreamers become so focused on a single project or talent that they don’t realize how much further they can cultivate their skills. Maybe your brother is struggling to land that dream writing job, but also happens to be a wiz in the kitchen. Your insistence that he should consider working in the culinary arts probably goes in one ear and out the other, but don’t give up. When he eventually listens, he might be the next Gordon Ramsey.
5. They’re relentlessly positive
Thomas Edison is famously credited for having once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That was the kind of ruthless endurance and belief in finding a solution that gave us the electric lightbulb. Remember when you were a kid learning to ride a bicycle? Whenever you lost your balance, fell, and scraped your knees, you got back on the bike and tried again until you could race up and down the sidewalks without even holding onto the handlebars. This is the dreamer’s approach to everything. As exhausting as this energetic go-getter attitude might seem it gets the job done—and dreamers believe whole-heartedly in what they’re setting out to achieve. Even when it seems like they’re going to fail encourage them, because when you mock a dreamer’s dreams you mock the dreamer.
6. They can be a bit absent-minded
Maybe the dreamer in your life is constantly misplacing her keys or her cellphone? Maybe they’re always late or forget your birthday. They can’t help it! When dreamers are looking up, building castles in the air and losing their head in the clouds, they sometimes forget to pay attention to what’s going on in the “real world.” If you’re the pragmatic one in the relationship, it’s okay now and then to grab hold of their ankles and pull them down to earth whenever they’re flying too high.Advertising
7. They’re a bit eccentric
Is your little dreamer a bit like “The Big Bang Theory’s” Sheldon Cooper? Does he insist on sitting in the same spot, having his hot beverages heated to precisely the correct temperature, or following a strict meal and bathroom schedule? It sounds OCD (and it totally is), but the truth is that dreamers who are often creative geniuses do this for a reason. When they can fall back on routine it frees their minds up to focus on whatever personal project they’re completing, whether it’s a book, a scientific experiment, or a self-driving car. Just humor them and accept that it’s their way of creating balance to ground them when their head space gets too chaotic.
8. They’re goal-oriented
While we’ve talked about the fact that dreamers always seem to have their head in the clouds, this is because they’re always looking up and ahead. Dreamers know what they want in life because they’re great at visualizing. If they want to be a corporate giant on Wall Street, they picture it in their minds. If they want to live in a mansion, they’ve already decorated it in their minds. Observing the way the dreamers in your life plan their futures can teach you a lot about the value of setting goals in a self-motivated life.
9. They know how to make sacrifices
Maybe things can be a bit rough financially sometimes, especially when a dream is just trying its wings. Building from the ground up is never easy, but dreamers have faith that today’s sacrifices will pay off tomorrow, or perhaps the next day. Their rosy-eyed optimism keeps them fueled while they’re living in a studio apartment, surviving on Ramen Noodles and peanut butter and scrounging between the couch cushions for quarters to do their laundry with (I’m looking at you, anyone who’s ever been in grad school). That’s what living the dream really looks like, man. When you get frustrated with a dreamer because they can’t pay the bills, or they haven’t had the money to visit in 3 years, remember that they’re doing the best they can.
10. They’re healthier
As we’ve talked about, dreamers are optimists, and studies have shown that optimists are not only psychologically happier, but physically healthier, recovering more quickly from illnesses and surgery. So don’t gripe about your dreamer’s cheery disposition; put on a happy face and smile with them. You just might add a few years to your life.Advertising
11. They can be unrealistic
Of course, the caveat in all of this is that sometimes dreamers get carried away. They sometimes think that once they start climbing the ladder of success, that it’s just a straight-to-the-top trajectory, but the truth is there’s no such thing as a completely happy ending. Remember what happened to Icarus when he flew too close to the sun? The downside to flying high on the wings of hope is that when things don’t work out, the higher you’ve flown, the harder you fall. This is when you need to step in, help them up, and remind a dreamer that nothing worth having comes without risk or pain.
12. They know they can be a burden sometimes
While dreamers know how to make sacrifices for themselves, they also recognize that others—parents, friends, spouses—make sacrifices for them as well, very often involving money. When they cling tenaciously to a dream that seems destined not to come true, applying for job after job, making move after move with no success, they’re not clueless. They’re frustrated and afraid they won’t make it work. They know how much love, support, and financial investment you’ve put into helping them, and they fear letting you down almost as much as, if not more than they fear letting themselves down. From their perspective, the best way they can pay you back is to prove to you that they can do it.
13. They let you stand on their shoulders
Sir Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Whenever I come across this quotation I think of my immigrant grandparents. My grandparents and great grandparents came to America from Italy not for themselves, but for their children and their children’s children. Both my brother and I, as well as our parents, are fortunate enough to have earned graduate degrees. When my brother and I graduated our father reminded us never to forget our roots. The dreams we’re living today would be impossible without the hands of the bricklayers, tailors, and seamstresses in our family who molded and stitched together a path for future generations.
14. They’re always on the move
According to Neal Samudre, one of the best things about being in a relationship with a dreamer is that they take you on a life-long adventure. Dreamers aren’t content to sit still and let life pass them by. They’re always looking for the next big adventure, whether a white-water rafting vacation or a cross-country move to a city where you won’t know a soul but each other. Without them, you might never have challenged yourself to experience these things, and as scary as it is, the upshot is that you never have to do it alone. The dreamer is in the driver’s seat too in these situations, so you can just enjoy the ride.Advertising
15. They’ll always believe in you
A dreamer will be your biggest fan and loudest cheerleader because they know the simple joy of shaping their dreams and the thrill of seeing them come to fruition. They want you to share in that joy and experience that same self-satisfaction, so they’re the perfect ones to have in your corner when you decide to chase your own dreams. If you’ve been there for a dreamer, sometimes the best way you can let them thank you is to let them return the favor.
Featured photo credit: Sky and Clouds via pixabay.com
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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