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How to Build Positive Thinking to Improve a Bad Day

How to Build Positive Thinking to Improve a Bad Day

I’ve had some bad mornings in my life — mornings where I woke up late for work or school (sometimes even waking up after I was supposed to be there), hungover, still bruised and/or bleeding from the night before, broke, in a car, on the street, and next to some insane people. From that point, the day goes downhill — I lost my job, car, and house; missed the bus; went broke; missed lunch; said the wrong thing on the news; got surrounded by police and homeland security; and ended up in the hospital, where I was released with nothing but a pair of shorts and my iPhone. Despite all of these problems, I manage to wake up again the next day, ready to face and change the world with the power of positive thinking.

Happy people used to annoy me. I was never one of those happy people until the last year or so. Before I became happy, I would listen to angry music, relate to it, and start steering my life toward that direction. When 2Pac, Eminem, etc. shouted about their problems, I internalized them and made them my own. The anger they expressed became what I thought I had to be in order to follow the footsteps of my idols… but then I realized I don’t have to be angry; just because I have problems doesn’t mean I have to focus on them. Instead, I can resolve them internally and work toward a positive outcome. This is when I discovered the power of positive thinking, and I’d like to share with you its simplicity.

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    Just Do It

    The trick to positive thinking is to simply think positive. I know this sounds a bit obvious and unobtainable, but bear with me — it’s easier than it sounds. Your thoughts are under your control. You’re the only person who ever hears them unless you choose to say them or (preferably) act on them. Let’s say you’re a couple of dollars short on your electric bill; you can choose to either freak out and stress about how broke you are, lowering your mood and allowing your day to be controlled by the electric company, or you can choose to focus on how to make the best of the position you’re in.

    Take the MCs I used above as an example. Sure, 2Pac and Eminem aired their dirty laundry and angry thoughts in their music, but they didn’t climb to the top of the hip-hop game by doubting themselves. Both of these men put themselves out there, knowing they could fail, but also believing in themselves enough to rise above the competition. Eminem, for example, is known for publicly discussing his mama and baby-mama drama. Instead of dwelling on it, he made a career out of it, talked his problem out, and moved past them. You can do the same.

    hey-i-want-hay

       

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      You’re Not Alone

      Life sucks sometimes, but it’s a beautiful experience you only get once. As Jay-Z put it, “Flowers need water to grow; It gotta rain. And in order to experience joy, you need pain.” Bad things happen to all of us — no matter how rich, famous, or successful we are. So why do some of us smile while others don’t? It’s not a natural disposition; some people just repeat mantras in their head whenever a bad thought enters their head.

      I get angry sometimes; other times I get sad, or even depressed. I’ve had thoughts of what things would be like if I were dead. I drove across the country to start over — twice. As recently as two years ago, I briefly considered ending my life. As recently as two days ago, I anguished over where the hell my life is going, and why it feels like I can’t do anything right. I’ve made mistakes and bad decisions that have cost me nearly everything on more than one occasion. There isn’t much I haven’t lost — but I continue getting back up, putting a smile on my face, and going back out there to try again. You can do this too, but you need to start thinking positively. Here’s how I do it.

       

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        Repeat After Me…

        When I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I do is look myself in the mirror — it’s important to be able to face yourself in the mirror — and look at the man I’ve become. I reconnect with myself and remind myself that I’m a great guy. I compliment myself out loud to ensure the first words I both hear and say each day are positive. Then I clean myself up and eat breakfast to gather enough energy to be me. This sets the tone for the rest of the day.

        Throughout the day, I need a refresher for a variety of reasons: things don’t go as planned, something bad happens, someone rubs me the wrong way. During these times, my first thought used to be exasperation, but I forced myself to stop. I close my eyes for 10 seconds and breathe, repeating, “This, too, shall pass,” in my head over and over until I calm down. It’s a quick meditation to reset my train of thought. Whenever I have downtime, I take a moment to think about all of the wonderful people, places, and things in my life. I remind myself that I’m alive, I’m okay, and I’m fully capable of overcoming any obstacles.

         

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          Maintenance

          It was difficult at first, but eventually it took less and less time to get back into the game. The negative times have gotten less and less frequent (although they still happen). I still have a lot of problems (financial, romantic, career-based), but they don’t overwhelm me anymore. When something doesn’t go my way, I simply go a different route. Things haven’t necessarily gotten easier, but I accomplish much more. Knowing I’m constantly moving toward my goal (even if I fail, I’m still learning something and making progress) makes it easier to get through the hard times.

          The more you think positive, the easier it gets to think positive. Like everything else in life, it takes practice. If you’re feeling down and out, stop for a minute and think about everything you’re grateful for. Instead of thinking about your problems, think about your triumphs. The difference between a good day and a bad day is nothing more than the perspective in which it’s viewed. Think positive, and you’ll make a positive impact on this world. Get started right now.

           

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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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