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How to Build Positive Thinking to Improve a Bad Day

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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.

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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 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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