“There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh was right. You don’t have to wait to be happy in order to feel happy. There are five things you can do now to bring happy into your life. These five tips are intended to be physical and practical ways to change your state so that you physically and emotionally turn your “happy” on.Advertising
1. Move Your Body
Exercise is one of the fastest ways to joy. When you move your body you change your state. You go from down and lethargic to feeling more energetic, masterful, and fulfilled. The reason is both physiological and psychological. Not only does exercise burn off cortisol (the stress hormone), and studies have shown that exercise can release endorphins (feel-good chemicals, the commonly referred to “runners’ high”), but when you exercise you also feel a sense of accomplishment, known as self efficacy. There’s a psycho-social hypotheses called the mastery hypothesis that tells us that our mood improves when engaging in difficult and significant work. Thus, on both a psychological and physiological level, exercise will lift your mood, and as a bonus side effect you’ll be healthier too!
2. Fake it!
Seriously, the next time you’re down, put down the self-help book and simply smile. Make ridiculous faces, and even say the words “Ha Ha”. Did you know there is a form of yoga called laughter yoga, that uplifts the spirit? The class is centered around saying things like “Ha Ha, Ho Ho, Hee Hee”, and before you know it the whole room is howling. You can take this strategy and employ it in your own living room. Try it right now, and see how your state changes. Happiness is often thought of as an emotion, yet our physiological state is inextricably linked with our emotional state. The moment we change what our physical body is doing, our emotions follow. There’s been plenty of research to back up these claims, but better than science is your own scientific experiment! Try it now, and see how you feel. Put on a smile that includes your eyes smiling, and see if it influences your feelings.Advertising
3. Go Play
Life can be serious. From horrific television news stories, to deadlines, family responsibilities, and more, it’s so vital to remember to play. Kids do it all the time, and often with big smiles on their faces. So whether your form of play is taking a hike, reading a magazine, playing a sport, or literally heading over to some swings in a park and playing like a kid, play is on of the fastest ways to get in touch with our inner happy. Taking the time to go have fun, and bring some joy in your life should be part of your weekly regime. Even little doses of fun make all the difference. If it’s been awhile since you went out to play and have some fun, set up a play date now. Think of an activity you have been longing to partake in, and pencil it into your calendar.
4. Watch Something Funny
Alright, so I am all for practicing presence and meditation, but sometimes, if you’re feeling totally bummed out, meditation may not be the trick you seek. Did you know that consciously choosing to distract yourself can be a healthy coping mechanism? Now, if you are constantly living in busyness and distraction, this is not a healthy way to cope. But, consciously choosing to engage in something to get your mind off something troubling can be a healthy way to shift your attention. You can easily find thousands of hilarious comedic routines on YouTube, or the Comedy Network. Sometimes taking a time out, such as watching something that gives you a good laugh, is a healthy way to let go of the sadness and stress. And often it gives us perspective so that we can deal with what ails us in a clearer way.Advertising
5. Forget Your Schedule… For an Hour!
If you’re feeling stressed and caged in by your heavy duty never ending to-do list, it’s time to engage in what I call the “Forget Your Schedule” practice.
The truth is, if you don’t get everything done on your list, life will go on. Things won’t fall apart. It will be OK. Besides, feeling stressed and overwhelmed can seriously slow us down. By taking an hour to forget your chores and to-do-list, you often gain perspective that half of those things you thought you had to do are either unnecessary or you find a better way to get them done (which sometimes includes delegating tasks to others). By taking some time to let yourself be free, you get to finally live in the moment. When you are living in the moment, away from the giant to-do list and never ending stress (which leads to unhappiness), you tap into freedom which leads to space, possibility and happiness.Advertising
I hope these tips have been practical and that you will implement them into your life. Now it’s your turn, what’s your best tip to shifting your state and getting your happy on?
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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