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9 Ways To Live But Not Merely Exist You Need To Start Doing

9 Ways To Live But Not Merely Exist You Need To Start Doing

Life is like a road trip without a map; as you travel along the highway of life, you stop at different places, veer off down unknown roads, change direction every now and again and sometimes, although you hate to admit it, you get lost. Sadly, there are some of who insist on taking the map with them, making sure that nothing is uncertain, that all roads are clearly mapped out and getting lost is never a possibility.

Merely existing in life is like being on automatic pilot; eyes wide open yet not seeing anything, arms out in front, yet never really feeling or experiencing anything and you travel one foot in the front of the other going in only one direction. There is no feeling, no challenge and certainly no excitement you simply go through the motions doing what you have always done, yet expecting something different.

Except you have this feeling in the back of your mind that life isn’t meant to be like this, that there is more to it and you need to make some changes. I’m all for change so I’ve come up with a few actionable pointers to help you live a great existence, so that you can start loving every moment of your life again!

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1. Invest the present and do what matters most to you.

Life is short—there I’ve said it, but it’s true. You can’t waste a single drop of it, so while you are here on this wonderful planet, why not make sure you do right now what matters to you most. What you do every day matters more to you than what you do every so often, like, for example, what you do for work or your daily routine. It’s time to really decide if it makes you happy or not. Ask yourself what makes you really come alive and start to invest time in being able to do that.

2. Live the way you preach.

If you harp on all the time about being kind to other people, giving to charity and helping the needy, and yet you are grumpy all the time, moan about having to give to charity and are selfish with your time, it might be time to rethink how you live your life. The best way to live is to live with purpose and being true to your word, you’ll not only gain respect from others but you’ll also respect yourself too. What you’ll also find is that you’ll live your life in a more meaningful way, you’ll feel more fulfilled and you’ll become an inspiration to others at the same time. Wonderful don’t you think?

3. Write your own story of your own life.

Guess what? Your life is in your hands and nobody else’s, so it’s up to you how the story of your life goes. Once you understand that no matter what happens to you, no matter what people think of you and what other people are doing with their lives, your life is your own responsibility and if you want to enjoy it, it’s down to you. Start the new chapter of your life today; create, dream and then take action. Step into your own life and make an intention to re-write, start over and live rather than exist!

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4. Appreciate all the wonderful people and great things already in your life.

How often do you not even notice what you already have in your life: your family who loves you, your partner who adores you and your home, which you are so lucky to live in? Be ever so grateful for all those people that care about you no matter what you do, and appreciate them every day as you’ll never know when they might no longer be around. Remember, the more you are grateful for the more you will receive things to be grateful about.

5. Be who you really are.

There is really no point in pretending to be someone you are not or hiding that unique and special person behind someone else. You were made as you and there is, after all, only one of you. If you were to believe what people say in this crazy world, being like everyone else is better than being who you are, don’t you dare believe it!  Hold onto your individuality and wear it with pride. Embrace your differences and brush off any criticisms, those who criticize are only envious of you, so be brazen about it, step forward and be you!

6. Embrace change and love watching your life unfold.

So many times, I’ve seen people struggle, complain and moan about things in their life when stuff doesn’t go the way they want it to go. Life is meant to be ever changing, ever growing and it can be tough to let go of how things used to be and move forward with something new. Here’s where you stop worrying, fretting and trying to control. It’s time to have a little bit of faith in the unknown and start trusting that life will unfold on its own whether you like it or not. Believe that what’s around the corner is the best for you, even if it doesn’t seem that way, and laugh or cry but live consciously from now on and see how wonderful life can really be.

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7. Always listen to your heart.

There is no doubt about it—this is the most important step. Life can be an exciting, spontaneously exhilarating journey if you let it be, or it can be nothing at all. You can learn new ways to live. Begin today by making some changes and listening to your heart. Forget what other people think. Be brave enough to go it alone if you have to. Do what is in your heart and follow it with commitment, pride and love. Appreciate every step you take and be mindful of everything around you. There will be bad days, good days and days that will teach you how to deal with difficulties, because they will come. Life is after all one big learning curve. Treat it like that and you’ll never be disappointed.

8. Enjoy the little things in life.

The very best things in life are free and remembering to enjoy the simple things in life will make you feel alive. Things like watching nature, spending time with loved ones and having fun will make you realize that the need for more is just an illusion.  Enjoy these moments today, because tomorrow things could change in an instant, so make the most of now and the little things in life.

9. Learn to let go.

Some things things are meant to stay broken, so rather than trying to fix something that is broken, learn to let go and let it be. Trying to force something into place or back together can make the situation worse.  Sometimes it’s best to leave them be, start over and create something better than before.  Whether it’s a relationship or a certain situation, it’s important to look at it objectively, work out what works and what doesn’t, and then act accordingly. Letting go is never a failure. It’s just a choice to take a new direction and make the best out of what happens next.

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So the question is, do you merely exist or are you living?

Featured photo credit: An Khánh 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.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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