“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 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|