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5 Questions That Will Make You a Happier Person

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5 Questions That Will Make You a Happier Person

I’ve been feeling down lately. Things just haven’t been going as planned. I’ve been stressed, I’m having some medical issues, and I’m still not making as much money as I’d like. Sure there are good things in my life too, but I’ve been focused on the negatives.

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be

    No wonder I’ve been feeling bad! Our thoughts really do create our reality, so by choosing different thoughts, we can actually shift from bummed to happy pretty quickly. Here are my favorite five questions that consistently boost my happiness and they’ll increase yours too.

    1. What do I enjoy about this moment?

    Finding Joy:

    Asking this question requires us to notice what’s happening in the moment, and discover what we most enjoy about it. If I’m having trouble figuring out what I enjoy, I often turn to my five senses, asking myself, “Is there anything that I can see that I enjoy right now? Is there anything I can hear that I enjoy in this moment? Can I smell or taste anything wonderful right now? Or is there a texture or sensation I can enjoy now?

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    Practicing appreciation and gratitude has been one of the most life-altering experiences of my life. It has helped me let go of worry, anxiety, and fear and celebrate the beauty in life. Through these practices, I’ve found true and lasting joy, and you can too!

    In fact, just last week when I was feeling down, I decided to practice gratitude every day, and I already felt happier by day two. I mean really, every breath is a gift, so let’s celebrate.

    2. How can I help?

    Being of Service :

    When we help others, we take our attention off of ourselves and put it on others in need. Instead of ruminating about what went wrong in a recent meeting or fretting about a conversation we’re dreading with a loved one, we can let go of our own troubles and focus on the challenges someone else is facing. This can happen in big and little ways throughout the day.

    We can help our family members with daily and weekly tasks, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or adopt an animal from the shelter. Being of service to others brings a deep and lasting sense of accomplishment. It feels so good to make a positive difference in some else’s life! And often, after connecting with someone in need, our own troubles come into perspective as the petty annoyances they often are, rather than the life destroying tragedies we make them out to be.

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    3. What can I learn from this?

    A Love of Learning :

    Striving has a direct connection with happiness. When we strive to learn and grow, we enjoy life more, naturally. That’s because we humans like to feel a sense of accomplishment and meaning in our lives. If we’re not learning and growing, then what’s the point of all this anyway?

    When we begin to focus on opportunities for growth, instead of disappointments and failures, we start to see that everything that happens is just another chance to learn and grow. And that causes us to set goals, strive for those goals, achieve them and feel successful.

    Since learning and growing is a lifelong process, we’re never really finished—instead, we’ll just find new things to learn. For instance, my mom learned to draw and became a portrait artist in her fifties. My mother-in -law learned to make jewelry in her sixties, and I had my very first voice lesson last month!

    So, what’s on your list? Do you want to learn to ski? Or beat your best running time? Are you striving for a business goal? Or are you trying to improve your marriage? Just in case you’re wondering, going after these goals is already making you a happier person.

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    4. How would I like it to happen next time?

    Envisioning What’s Next:

    Recognizing our true power to create our reality can be an overwhelming responsibility. We can no longer blame others for our experience, and instead we have to stand up and say, “I created this.” The benefit of this view of reality is that when things are not as we’d like, we have the power to change them. By asking ourselves how we’d like things to go next time, we’re offering ourselves the opportunity to create more of what we want and less of what we don’t want.

    Envisioning the future is an art, and there are subtleties about the process that can make a huge difference in how successful you are at it. Here are my four rules for writing an effective vision:

    1. Everything is stated in the positive (no exceptions)
    2. It is written in present tense, as if all of this is already true.
    3. It is a narrative and when you read it you truly FEEL how you will feel when you accomplish the goals within.
    4. You MUST share your vision with at least three people.

    5. What’s funny about this?

    Playful Presence:

    Maintaining a sense of humor in the midst of your stressful life is a huge key to happiness. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, a virtual feel-good cocktail for your brain. When we can laugh about something, it just doesn’t seem so awful anymore.

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    Plus, the ability to be lighthearted about a difficult situation is a skill that comes in really handy, especially at the most challenging moments of life.

    A few years ago I cut my finger badly and my husband took me to urgent care to get it stitched up. I was a mess, and I was embarrassed, upset, and scared since I’d never had stitches before. My husband was lighthearted and cracking jokes while we waited for the doctor, so that by the time he came in, I was relaxed and at ease. The whole process was quick and much easier than I had anticipated. Thank goodness my husband was there to lighten the mood and get me laughing. Now I just have to figure out how to do that for myself!

    If there is a question here that seems strange, confusing, or difficult for you, don’t worry about it. Just practice the ones you feel drawn to and revisit the others at a later time. After all, this is not about achieving perfection it’s about achieving happiness! Go forth and enjoy your life even MORE.

    Warm hugs, Shelly

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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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