- Stop fearing stress.
A couple of years ago, health psychologist Kelly McGonigal made a disturbing discovery. For years she'd been warning people that stress kills. And it does, new research showed--but only if you expect it to. People who experienced a lot of stress and believed that stress was harmful were indeed much likelier to die than those who experienced little stress. But those who experienced great stress but believed it wasn't harming them were in no more danger than the stress-free.
- Recognize your own optimism.
How do I know that you're an optimist` Because we all are, as cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot explains. Being optimistic makes us happier and more resilient--and without a heavy dose of optimism, no one would ever start a business. However, problems arise when we make bad decisions out of excessive optimism, as happened before the financial crisis, for example. The solution` Stay unreasonably optimistic--but keep in mind that you are.
- Use body language to increase your own confidence.
Besides communicating confidence to others, when we adopt confident body language we fool our own brains into actually being more confident. Something as simple as going someplace private and adopting a confident stance (legs apart, arms extended) for a few minutes before going into a meeting or making a presentation can make a big difference. Try it and see.
- Remind yourself to be generous.
A rigged game of Monopoly shows what many have observed in life: The more fortunate and richer you are, the more entitled you feel, and the less likely you are to offer help to those who need it. But, social psychologist Paul Piff tells us, it doesn't have to be that way. A small reminder, such as a 46-second video on child poverty, is enough to reverse that nasty piece of human nature. So provide yourself with those reminders and you'll remain a good person, no matter how rich and successful you become.
- Don't put too much faith in your own memories.
The number of eyewitness accounts and identifications that have been proved wrong by DNA or other evidence is only one example of how unreliable human memory is, as psychologist Elizabeth Loftus describes in her TED Talk. Not only that, it's surprisingly easy to implant false memories in people, as some psychologists have unintentionally done when they thought they were unearthing repressed memories. So think twice next time you're "sure" about something you remember.
- Surround yourself with people you want to emulate.
Everybody cheats, at least a little, at least some of the time. An elaborate series of experiments explores just how much and when, as described by behavioral economist Dan Ariely in a thought-provoking talk. One intriguing finding: People are more likely to cheat if they see someone doing it who they consider part of their own group, such as someone wearing a sweatshirt with their school's logo. If the cheater is wearing a different school's logo, it has no effect. On the other hand, people are less likely to cheat if they've been asked to recite the Ten Commandments--whether or not they are religious, and even if they can't remember most of them. Obviously, our ideas about right and wrong are not as fixed as we think they are. We're highly suggestible, and easily influenced by the people around us. We should select those people carefully.
- Learn to delay gratification.
In a Stanford experiment, 4-year-olds were left alone in a room with a marshmallow. If they could resist eating it for 15 minutes, they were told, they'd be given a second one as well, speaker and author Joachim de Posada tells the audience in this short and entertaining talk (complete with hidden-camera footage of the kids). Only about a third of the kids had the self-discipline to resist. When researchers followed up more than a decade later, those who had were significantly more successful than those who had succumbed. There's a lesson here for us all.
Enlist your imagination to boost your confidence. Experts believe that having solid mental practices`like picturing yourself scoring the winning goal or even going through a tough workout`can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prep your brain for a successful outcome. Try setting a super specific goal`be as detailed as possible (one study suggests that the more detailed your vision of future success, the more confident you`ll feel)`and imagine that you`ve achieved it. Throw in a positive affirmation, and go through this practice right before or right after you hit the sheets for sleep, ideally while looking at yourself in the mirror (e.g. putting on makeup or brushing your teeth) so that you can literally tell yourself what you`ll accomplish and why you rock.
- Practice, practice, practice.
Even if you`re blessed with oodles of natural talent, the ability to succeed and feel confident doesn`t rely on that alone. In fact, experts suggest that practicing for a task or responsibility is more important than simply relying on your gifts. Prepping for the task at-hand (whether it`s a going through a presentation, practicing public speaking, etc.) will boost your confidence and improve the quality of your work. Bottom line: dress rehearsals aren`t just for drama troupes.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
The time for risk-taking is NOW. Basically, we have control over how big our comfort zone is, according to Becky Blalock, a former Fortune 500 exec. When you take risks regularly, your comfort zone expands, she says. `Even doing something seemingly small every day will lead you to something bigger,` says Nancy Vito, a transformational coach. `You will grow and will begin to feel unstoppable.` Perfect example: for a recent study, researchers asked participants to talk to strangers on their commute to see whether it would be a positive experience . The outcome` This simple, small (yet admittedly courageous) act made their commute more positive.
- Cherish compliments.
While research shows that overpraise may make you feel worse about yourself, there`s still something to be said for receiving a genuine, heartfelt, and deserved compliment. In fact, experts believe that hearing words of praise leads to a boost in self-esteem and self-confidence . So save those sincere birthday cards, performance reviews, and even emails from mom and read them back to yourself when you need a shot of confidence.
- Be your own cheerleader.
We mentioned that affirmations may help with visualizing successful outcomes, but they may also be powerful confidence-boosting tools on their own, especially during times of stress or struggle. When you use self-affirmations, you`re less likely to focus on failures from your past and are perhaps more likely to learn from your mistakes. Not only that, but the positive outcome that results from self-affirmations could trigger a cycle of positivity`more self-confidence leads to higher expectations and when met, brings even more self-confidence. To harness this particular power of positive thinking, focus on the good stuff that makes you who you are (e.g. if you`re super witty or a truly spectacular cook, own it!) . Source: Greatist.com, Inc.com