Happiness all starts within you. You can’t search for happiness from the outside world. If you want to be happy, you need to ask yourself these 10 questions every morning.
How can I live in alignment with my values and beliefs in life today?
Living in alignment with your deepest values and beliefs will ultimately make you happy. Human beings are most happy when they are living their life with how they imagine their life being. Imagine what your life will consist of if you live in alignment with your values and beliefs. Will you be a happier individual? It’s about taking action with what you believe in and making the commitment every single day of living out your values.
What can I do today to fulfill my human needs?
There are 6 human needs that we experience. These 6 human needs consist of certainty, variety, significance, connection & love, growth, and contribution. Take a moment every morning and be clear with what you human needs are. These human needs are what matter to you the most. I know that for me personally, connection & love and contribution are my two highest human needs. I live each and every day in alignment with these two human needs and let me tell you, I am very happy in my life. Reflect and be clear with what your human needs are.
Why do I go to work every day?
Do you know why you go to work every single day? Does it seem like you are constantly stuck in a “draining routine”? In order for you to be happy, you need to know why you do what you do. What is the reason for you to wake up in the mornings and go to work? You must experience a passion behind your actions. Without passion, it’s easy to get stuck in a boring and dull routine. Reach deep within yourself and be clear with why you go to work.
Am I experiencing happiness from within?
A lot of us fall into the trap of finding happiness from the outside world. Whether it be materialistic possessions or from other people, we must take the time to ask our self this question. Where is happiness coming from in your life? It’s important for you to experience happiness from within because you will be constant even when stress and frustration come your way. You will have a solid internal foundation from within. No matter what you experience in life, you know that you will be okay. When happiness is rooted from within you, you are more likely to bounce back from stressful situations.
How can I love my spouse more today?
This question is always used in my marriage. My husband and I wake up in the mornings and ask ourselves this question. It’s easy for couples to get stuck in a “draining routine,” where they forget about doing the little things that express love to their partner. Ask yourself this question every morning and make the time to express love to your partner. This will definitely help rekindle your relationship!
What is my legacy?
Take a moment and reflect upon this question. It’s important for you to think long term. What do you want to be remembered by? When you’re able to be clear with your legacy, you are more likely to work towards your legacy. I know that for me personally, I want to be remembered as having a meaningful marriage and helping people live a fulfilling and rewarding life. I live with this legacy every single day. Now it’s your turn. What’s your legacy?
Am I surrounding myself with positive people?
When it comes to your happiness, the people with which you surround yourself will influence you. We are more likely to conform when we are in a group setting. Who are the types of people you hang around with? If you surround yourself with negative people, their negativity will rub off onto you. If you surround yourself with positive people, their energy will rub off onto you. You have the choice of deciding who you’re friends with. If you want to be happy, chose your friends wisely.
Where am I now in comparison to where I want to be?
It’s important for you to always reflect upon where you currently are and where you want to be in life. Being consciously aware that you are working towards your goals will make you happy. Understand that where you are now is only temporarily. You are constantly growing, learning and developing your mind. Take the time to reflect on your life. Where are you now in comparison to where you want to be? Do you know which direction you’re heading? If not, what changes do you need to make in order to be in the direction you want to be in?
What makes me happy?
This is a very simple question but worth talking about. Take a moment to reflect upon what truly makes you happy. I’m not talking about materialistic possessions or superficial things, like shopping or buying the latest gadget. I’m talking about internal happiness. What speaks to your soul? Focus on feeding your inner being. If you’re looking for long term happiness, it all starts from within.
How am I making a difference in this world?
We all want to make a difference in this world. Whether it be big or small. Life is about helping others live a better life. Take the time to figure what how you want to make a difference in this world. It can be as small as not littering or as big as becoming the president of the United States. You are in control. You have the option of living a passionately happy life or remaining stuck with where you are. You decide.
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: