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20 Photos From The Past That Will Make You Glad You Live In The Present

20 Photos From The Past That Will Make You Glad You Live In The Present

People complain about a lot of things these days, and, sometimes, they have a valid point. Of course, there’s also the flip side to this, where people take issue with such minor annoyances that entire memes have been created to poke fun at their ridiculousness (i.e. “first world problems”). As always, history shows us why we should be thankful to live in the time that we do…

1. William Tecumseh Sherman Burns Atlanta, 1864.

general-sherman

    Back during the Civil War, folks didn’t know whether or not they’d still have a proper country to live in by the end of the conflict. If you lived in the South, where most of the fighting took place, you were in danger of having your entire city burned to the ground.

    2. Civil War Soldiers Bury Their Comrades Outside Fredricksburg, Virginia, 1864.

    burial

      There was many casualties during the Civil War, indeed, so many that our losses during World War II pale in comparison. Thanks to an archaic form of battlefield strategy (where regiments would line up and fire at each other) used at a time when rifles were becoming more common, many more men lost their lives than was necessary.

      3. Shady Figures Line An Alleyway in New York City, Late 19th Century.

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        No, this isn’t an image from the Great Depression. America’s “Gilded Age,” which occurred in the late 19th century, is relatively forgotten nowadays, but many important parallels can be made between that era and the one we live in now. That being said, our quality of life is much higher in the present.

        4. A Coal Worker Relaxes, New York City, Late 19th Century.

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          The Gilded Age was rife with cases of worker abuse. Coal miners were victimized frequently, leading to many strikes and the formation of unions during this era. If you complain about the minimum wage in the present, just know that it was a heck of a lot worse a little over a century ago.

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          5. Children In A Classroom, New York City, Late 19th Century.

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            In college we complained about the cramp rows, tiny desks, and terrible seats all of the time, but our plight is nothing compared to what these kids (and teachers) had to deal with.

            6. Italian Immigrant’s Home, New York City, Late 19th Century.

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              Being half-Italian, I’ve heard just about every story in regard to how treacherous of a journey it was to immigrate to the United States. And, even when you got through Ellis Island, you often lived like this for your first several years in the country. All things considered, today’s immigrants are a lot better off than our ancestors were.

              7. A Hotel, New York City, Late 19th Century.

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                Even the worst hotels I’ve been in seem like five star establishments compared to this place.

                8. Woman And Daughter Making Lace, New York City, 1910.

                making-lace

                  When things got bad back then, people often turned to making things in their own home and selling them out on the street. I doubt that’s something most people would think of doing these days.

                  9. Wall-Street Executive, 1913.

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                  wall-street-fat-cat

                    Wall Street used to take advantage of normal people back in the day, too. At least nowadays we are slightly more educated and have more ways of defending ourselves against their tomfoolery.

                    10. Kids Hold an American Flag During World War I, 1918.

                    autochrome lumiere 1

                      We’re not used to looking at the “distant” past in color, but if you search hard enough you’ll find that lots of these “autochrome” images exist. Back in 1918, these kids would have had to deal not only with their fathers going off to war, but economic hardship and the Spanish Flu. We have it pretty good compared to them.

                      11. Out For A Swim, United States, ~1915-1918.

                      autochrome lumiere 9

                        Aren’t you glad we no longer have to wear those frocks into the water? Yeah, me too.

                        12. Moonshine Distillery, United States, 1922.

                        Moonshine-Still

                          Prohibition must have been tough. I’m no alcoholic, but I can appreciate a little something now and then. These guys worked under the cover of darkness to provide Americans with the alcohol they so desperately wanted.

                          13. An X-Ray Machine, United States, ~1920

                          Machine-XRay-Old

                            Yeah, that thing looks about as likely to make the patient melt as it does properly image his bone fracture. I’ll take modern medicine, thank you very much. The year on this one was rather unclear, but based on the source of the image this is probably from the 1920s.

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                            14. A Poor Family During the Great Depression, Central Ohio, 1938.

                            poor-family

                              Poverty is still something that needs to be vanquished in the present, though at the very least we should be thankful that the poor no longer live like this family had to.

                              15. The Dust Bowl, Oklahoma, 1936.

                              dust-bowl

                                Along with the Great Depression, Americans in the ’30s had to deal with this little thing called “The Dust Bowl.” Lots of crops were lost due to the lack of rain, and many established farming families had to move west. Drought is still an issue today, though improved irrigation and aqueduct techniques have alleviated this somewhat.

                                16. Women On A Lunch Break, Iowa, 1943

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                                  During World War II, everyone had to work hard to ensure our victory. This included women, who often took on the roles of men who went off to fight in Europe or the Pacific. Back in 1943, victory was nowhere near a surefire thing, and the stress caused by knowing that must have been very great indeed.

                                  17. Duck And Cover, United States, ~1950s.

                                  Bomb Drill

                                    What are these kids doing, you ask? Why, they’re hiding under they’re desks to protect themselves from a nuclear bomb blast. Ludicrous, you say? Well sure, but the government made all schools perform these drills anyways. This is one of the many reasons to be glad that the Cold War is over.

                                    18. Pro-Vietnam War Demonstration, New York City, 1970.

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                                    Construction workersclash with police during apro-Vietnam Wardem

                                      Yes, there were pro-Vietnam War demonstrations, although they weren’t as popular as those of the “anti” variety. Even today, when many are divided in regard to waging war in the Middle East, we at least maintain enough composure to not create chaos on the streets every chance we get.

                                      19. Subway Graffiti, New York City, 1984.

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                                        I’ve ridden the subway a few times, and I’ve never seen anything like this. Thanks anti-graffiti government regulations!

                                        20. Civilians Topple Soviet Statue In Moscow, 1991

                                        RUSSIA COUP ANNIVERSARY

                                          It can be hard to believe that just 23 years ago, we were still trying to rid ourselves of the last vestiges of Soviet Communism. Of course, we have plenty of problems today, but at least that’s one big thing we no longer have to worry about!

                                          There you have it folks, we’ve reached the ’90s. I’d keep going, but then I’d have to blame everything represented in the photos on us and not a previous generation, so I think I’ll pass.

                                          Featured photo credit: World War II nurses/OnCall Team via flickr.com

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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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