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5 Keys To A Better Love Life

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5 Keys To A Better Love Life

    I recently asked 5 of the most successful couples I know for their best advice on how to create a fantastic love life. They laughed at first. They thought I was asking about sex. I assured them I wasn’t. I wanted to know what they’d done to keep their love alive for 100+ combined years of life together.

    What came next surprised, inspired, and frustrated me all at once. These ideas were so simple, so straightforward. Why weren’t more couples putting them to use in their own relationships? Richard, happily “living in sin” with Debbie for 39 years, said it best. “Most people just don’t seem to care enough to put a bit of effort into their relationship every day.”

    If you really do care then you’ll have what it takes to put the following concepts to use and reap the benefits. In spite of all the complexity that love serves up, these keys will make short work of adding joy to your relationship.

    1. Ask For Praise

    Expecting your partner to notice things without prompting is often very unfair and can lead to resentment. Keep the beast away by speaking up and bringing attention to things you’d like your partner to notice. If you’ve done something you’d like your partner to take notice of, say something! Got your hair did? Say something! Fixed the dining room table so it doesn’t teeter? Say something!

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    You did this instinctively when you were a child. Remember running up to a parent or guardian and asking them to look at a picture you’d colored or cape you’d made out of an expensive tablecloth? For most of us, the response was one of amazement (if a bit contrived) and vocal appreciation for our obvious talents.

    You’re not so very different now. You still love to be praised when you’ve done well. Even if it’s something you should have done earlier in the week or missed a detail on. How to get that praise? Ask for it and agree to give it when your partner asks you for some appreciation. You know not to crush a child’s spirit by ignoring their efforts to impress you. Are you as smart about your partner?

    2. In Everything, Give Thanks

    Say “Thank You” and make an effort to regularly demonstrate your genuine gratefulness for all your partner does for you. There are going to be times when this will seem an impossible chore. Perhaps you’ll be furious with your partner over something or other and they’ll point out something they did, hoping for praise. How will you respond? Will you offer your praise and thanks then deal with your anger separately? Or will you close up like a shell and torture your partner with inconsolable silence?

    You care about making your relationship work so I expect you’ll swallow your momentary pride and say thank you. After all, your partner deserves at least the same courtesy you’d give to a complete stranger. When you cannot be gracious, be polite. Make a habit of offering thanks to your partner, even for the tiniest of things, and a sapling of thankfulness will grow into something strong enough to support you both.

    3. Schedule Time For Each Other

    If you were worried about killing spontaneous romance by scheduling time with your partner,  you wouldn’t be reading this. For the rest of us with busy lives and hectic schedules, an exhausting Wednesday is easier to handle knowing that Thursday at 6pm we get a few hours with our best friend.

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    All that’s left is to actually be present with your partner during the focused time you have together. This, according to all voices heard in my less-than-scientific survey, is one of the hardest parts of any long-term relationship.

    Dinner with kids at the table doesn’t count as real presence. Sitting on the couch while you both have laptops running in front of you doesn’t count either. In fact, most of the things we do as couples fall into the realm of proximity instead of true presence. A simple test (thanks, Debbie!) is to see if you need to get your partner’s attention before talking for them to hear what you say. If you do, they weren’t really there to begin with.

    You’ll be tempted to use your regular time together as the time for you to angrily vent and argue. Don’t do it! This is your time to catch up with the person you love. If you can’t think of something wondrous and warm to say, chew on silence and just be. There’s something about focused presence with a loved one that helps troubles sink away just a bit. Make the most of your time together!

    4. Agree On How To Argue

    Sometime when you’re not even a little angry with each other, sit down and talk about how you fight. Then lay down some rules you both agree to follow during future arguments.

    Mary, a 74 year-old mother of four and widow of two shared three of her rules:

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    • Nobody leaves during an argument without saying where they’re going.
    • Arguments that last longer than 3 days are obviously stupid and will not be allowed to continue.
    • An argument will never mean that the relationship itself is in question.

    Mary’s final rule resonated with me because that’s something I work very hard to do in my own relationships. One of the most difficult but smartest things to say during an argument is, “I love you but I’m so pissed at you about/for/because [insert argument here].” Keeping the argument separate from the relationship status is key to getting things back on track. You could call it a shortcut through very dark woods.

    5. Say You’re Sorry Every Day

    Apologizing is a lot like learning a foreign language. The more you practice it in real-life situations, the better you become at it.

    If you don’t do something worth saying sorry for every day, you’re either an angel or completely blind to your own inadequacy. You need not commit some great damage against your partner before saying you’re sorry. Just be yourself. In the course of being yourself you’ll say something without thinking, forget to pick up something from the store, or complain about your day without asking about your partner’s. You’re a master at making mistakes! =)

    The more you ask for forgiveness, the easier it will be to admit to and gain forgiveness for all the things you do that might drive your partner away if not taken care of. Its never easy to swallow your pride and admit to screwing something up. But you need to do this and make a habit of it if you want to make your relationship the best it can possibly be.


      There were many more tidbits and some hysterical stories shared but those 5 tips ranked highest on the list of useful bits of advice.

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      Feedback Time!

      What do you have to say? Is there something you’ve found works really well for you and your partner? I’d appreciate your input!

      If 100 people go home from work today and communicate better with their partner because of reading this, we’ll have changed part of the world with just one article! Thanks for sharing it!

      Image: source, source

      More by this author

      Seth Simonds

      Seth writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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