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18 Ways Your Thinking Is Destroying Your Happiness

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18 Ways Your Thinking Is Destroying Your Happiness

Do you destroy your happiness, without even realizing it? Let’s review 18 ways you might be doing that, and claim your best life today!

1. You distress about what’s ahead of you and forget about how far you’ve already come.

That’s the recipe for feeling discouraged. This bad habit dramatically increases your chances of giving up on your dream. If you instead focus a little more on the things you have achieved so far—the pounds you lost (or gained!), the things you learned, the money you made—then you’ll have a more holistic view of where you are and you won’t feel overwhelmed or powerless when looking ahead.

2. You think you need others to support you because you are afraid to be on your own.

This is such a big trap, and at the same time it’s so easy to miss because of denial.

That’s how people stay in abusive, or even ‘good enough’, relationships. That’s how other people depend on other people for money—whether that is family, or even an employer (vs. following their dream to start a business).

The truth is you have the power to go anywhere you want in life. But before you do that you first need to realize that you are actually depriving yourself of the opportunity to make it happen. Yup, that’s exactly what you do. You don’t even give yourself a chance to try. What if you did?

3. You think you’ll be happy later, when you have reached that goal.

You’ll be happy when you get fit, right? When you get that body you want, then you’ll be so happy. In the meantime, it’s normal to be miserable since your body is so unfit!

That’s exactly how we think with goals, all sorts of goals. Even though we know that money or a perfect body are not a prerequisite for happiness, we keep obsessing about it.

I hate that way of thinking—I call it The Happiness Paradox Trap. You see, even when you get fit, or make more money, or find love, you’ll then set new goals and you will have new excuses to be miserable!

But who said you can’t be both happy now and later? Why wait for some artificial goal to materialize to be happy? I believe that if you remind yourself enough that, yes, you can be happy now, you will indeed fall into this Happiness Paradox Trap less.

4. You see happiness as something exterior rather than as something interior.

You think it’s normal for others to be happy because they have better credentials, or make more money, or have a lovely spouse. Yet, we all know people who don’t have all that and are still happy.

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I understand that feeling miserable is a habit that we were taught in a young age. Buuut … it’s an irrational habit. Happiness is something interior, not something exterior. It’s a feeling and you can feel it anytime. Next time you tell yourself that you need something first to be happy: think again. Is what you’re saying rational?

5. You don’t take care of yourself.

You know you should exercise more, but don’t. You know you should be less hard on yourself, but are not. As a result, you feel guilty.

I understand that to an extent, the reason you don’t do what you think you should do, is that you don’t really know how to go about it and succeed. Hint: try a unconventional five-minute exercise program and you’ll know exactly what to do if the exercise example resonated with you.

Stop depriving yourself of happiness, and get rid of the guilt you feel because you know you should do X but don’t. If you find the right process that fits your needs, then I know you can make this happen! And no, you don’t need more motivation to do it and keep going.

6. You play the victim role.

You don’t need to be in a co-dependent relationship to play the victim role. Say you “can’t” do this or that? You are playing the victim role.

Here’s what you might not know though: You might actually get benefits by playing the victim.

For example, if you’re overweight and feel a victim because of that, you might secretly feel proud for going against what those evil magazines want you to do. Or, if you are overwhelmed, you might get to brag to others about how much you need to do.

Now that’s alright. Unless of course you want to stop being overwhelmed or overweight.

The first step is to ask yourself: “What advantages do I get from my current situation?” Be honest, and list at least seven! You just might get surprised …

7. You don’t see the meaning of jealousy.

Feeling jealous or envious? It’s because that other person either has something you don’t have or is doing something that you want to do, too! Jealousy just demonstrates—right in your face—the desires you are not pursuing yet!

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It’s not about the other person, it’s about you. The best way to stop feeling jealous? Take action towards where you want to go.

8. You look for what is bad rather than what is good.

What you focus on, grows. It’s the confirmation bias at play. If you want to create more good stuff in your life, then focus on that, and think less about the bad.

9. You are very frugal with helping others.

I recently read Give and Take, by Adam Grant. It’s a fantastic book that demonstrates how “givers”—people who generously help others—rise to the top more than “takers”, or people who feel they need to take others down in order for themselves to rise.

Apart from success, helping others has been scientifically proven to increase happiness.

Two birds with one stone…

10. You think people won’t like you.

Sometimes we are self-conscious and don’t expect much for ourselves. My world changed when I heard Byron Katie, spiritual teacher, say:

“When I walk into a room, I know that everyone in it loves me. I just don’t expect them to realize it yet.”

Now that’s a feeling good, friend-making recipe!

11. You rationalize your bad behavior.

Behavioral Economics Professor Dan Ariely has proven that most of us are liars. Yet, even though we lie, and lying is bad, we don’t think of ourselves as bad people. We are good people who … lie. Huh, how does this work?

It’s called rationalization or cognitive dissonance. The more we do it, the more we’ll keep doing bad things, and the more we won’t achieve the type of lasting happiness we’re after.

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12. You blame it all on yourself.

You are your only resource. Treat yourself like gold. Don’t blame it all on yourself, just to be on the safe side. Try to detach yourself from the situation and then re-think whether it’s all your fault or not.

13. You are a (past-focused) realist.

You think that being a realist make you objective, but are you really a “realist” or are you a “past-focused realist”?

Here’s the deal: Everything you experience today is the result of what happened yesterday, last week, last month, etc. Yet the future is the result of today plus the past.

For example, if you say, “I’m broke,” that might be true. But if you’re not considering that you are job hunting at the same time, then you’re a “past-focused realist”.

A true realist would say, “I’m broke but all this might change in an instant as I’m job hunting!”

See the difference?

14. You want to fix everything right NOW.

You cannot just do five minutes of exercise today. You need to do 30 minutes of exercise at least to get results, right?

You feel you need to get to the end goal, right now! Well, if you did, then what’s left to do for tomorrow?

Seriously, if you could just have everything today, what would you do tomorrow?

15. You don’t practice gratitude.

Think of one thing in your life that you’re so happy having. Did that? Feel better already? Follow the Stanford Professor BJ Fogg’s Method to make practicing gratitude a habit.

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16. You feel you need to prove yourself.

I’ve definitely fallen into this trap. So here’s my question: “What is it that you’re lacking that you feel you need to prove?”

Answering this honestly will open the pathway to happiness, and get you further away from feelings of unworthiness.

17. You look for others to save you.

You think you don’t know enough about X and need someone else to help you. That might be true, but sometimes it’s only an excuse not to get your hands dirty.

It’s rarely because you’re lazy. It’s mostly because you feel incompetent. Here’s another example: You wait for someone to give you advice on what to do, when you’re the person who should give advice to yourself!

The problem here lies in the attitude of, “I’m not good enough to do this”, “I don’t know enough”, etc.

But what if you do know enough, and yes, you are good enough?

18. You’re afraid to let go of good enough in order to get to great.

Sometimes it’s just easy to settle for “good”. But what if it’s great that you really crave? You know good is the enemy of great, right? Watch Marie Forleo explain why she walked away from a million dollars, and get inspired to leave what’s good behind in order to get to great.

So what will you do today or this week to destroy your happiness less and enjoy life more?

More by this author

Maria Brilaki

Maria helps people create habits that stick not just for a month or two but for years and decades.

How to Find Workout Motivation When You Hate Exercise 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More How to Think Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy 7 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be a Happier Person 10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More

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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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