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Psychologists Explain How to Focus Your Mind

Frazzled. Confused. Stressed. Discombobulated. Scatterbrained. These are just a few ways of describing the tendencies of the human mind.

Indeed, it can be difficult to understand ourselves. It’s not altogether uncommon to wonder, “Where’d that thought come from?” It’s a fair question, too! Why do we produce random thoughts – and why are the majority of them self-defeating? To answer this question, we must look at the brain’s two modes: default and focused.

“My mind is like an internet browser. 17 tabs are open, 4 of them are frozen and I don’t know where the music is coming from.” – Unknown (source)

UNDERSTANDING YOUR MIND’S TWO MODES
By understanding your mind’s two modes, you’ll unlock the secret to better focus.

MODE 1: THE DEFAULT MODE

“A wandering mind costs you nothing but is very expensive.” – Amit Sood, M.D.

Did you know that “at rest” really isn’t resting much at all? Neurophysiologists state that the focused mind uses just five percent more than a mind doing nothing in particular. The paradox here is that your mind is always doing something – even when you’re doing nothing – and this comes at an energy cost.

It is when we’re bored that the brain enters its default mode. If the brain could talk, it would say something like this: “Is this something interesting that is worth my time? No? Leave me alone to brood.” This brooding always takes place when the brain is in default mode.

Most people will recognize when their brain is in its default state, but not all. Some people feel as if their attention rarely wanders or enters default mode. Unless you are a monk or a long-time meditation or yoga practitioner, this is probably untrue. But here are a few questions to answer if you think this is the case:

  • Do my family or friends complain that I’m often too distracted?
  • Do I arrive at home with little memory of the commute?
  • Have I become more forgetful?
  • Do I experience mind racing in the shower?
  • Have I ever read a book with no idea of what I just read?
  • Do my thoughts wander when someone is talking or giving a presentation?
  • Do I wake up to a mind whirling with thoughts?

If you’ve answered in the affirmative to any of the above questions, your brain was in its default state. Please remember this about the default mode: the default mode takes away from your enjoyment of life; in fact, it often contributes to the pain and suffering you sometimes feel.

MODE 2: THE FOCUSED MODE

“Concentration brings with it a natural job as the mind settles and is absent of distraction.” – Shaila Catherine (source)

The brain’s secondary mode – and unfortunately so – is the focused mode. It’s not a stretch to say that the focused mode is the answer to most of life’s ills. This mode is recognizable when you become absorbed in something and lose track of time. Activities that activate focused mode includes:

  • Eating a delicious meal
  • Reading a good book
  • Watching an enthralling movie
  • Staring at a newborn baby
  • Watching the sunset
  • Solving a meaningful problem

The focused mind is relatively free of distractions, including the inner distractions of anxiety, restlessness, boredom, and so forth. As such, the focused mind is a happy mind. The focused mind becomes activated while you are paying attention to anything interesting and meaningful.

While there aren’t any official statistics on how often a person spends their time in focused mode, it’s probably in the ballpark of 25 percent. But fret not. You can substantially increase the amount of time that you spend in focused mode by committing to do so. This process takes a bit of effort at first but quickly becomes rather effortless. More on this later.

THE HUMAN MIND IS BEAUTIFUL

How powerful is what you just read? Simply by knowing and being mindful of the brain’s two “modes,” you can live a happier, more peaceful, and more meaningful life. Your brain innately understands the differences between the two modes – and the above descriptions should help.

Remember the differences:

Default mode: anxiety, stress, depression, restlessness; internally-focused, directionless.  The majority of people spend most of their time in this state.

Focused mode: content, happy, peaceful; externally-focused, time seems to fly. Most of us only spend about 25 percent in this state.

“WHY CAN’T I STAY IN DEFAULT MODE?”

Listen up as this is a critical point: no matter how much you learn about the brain and its processes, you will never be able to remain in a state of complete focus. How often you can stay in focused mode depends upon your initial capacity for attention, as well as your willingness to learn mindful techniques like meditation.

But what are these things even required? Why can‘t you just stay in a focused state? Well, as great as being focused all of the time sounds, it would be counterproductive and even dangerous.

Our brain has evolved an autonomic system that responds to threats – real or perceived. How important is the autonomic nervous system? Have you ever involuntarily taken a breath or moved to avoid a collision with a car or person? Sure, you have – all of us do this. It’s called survival, and our brain and body are finely tuned to survive in even the most challenging scenarios.

The problem is that the brain doesn’t know the difference between real and perceived threats. It is when we are prone to mind-wandering that these threats become more challenging and profuse. Biologically, the human brain in its current state is not designed to allow conscious thought to dominate. Will the brain ever reach that point? That remains to be seen.

OVERCOMING RESISTANCE IN THE MIND

“What you resist not only persists but will grow in size.” – Carl Jung (source)

Read and re-read the following statement as often as you’d like: to resist wandering thoughts is futile. Go ahead, reread it.

One of the first things that someone does when trying to get into a more focused state is to suppress wandering thoughts. Not only does this fail, but it actually makes things worse. Think of trying to resist negative or wandering thoughts as tightening a spring – the harder that you try, the more it recoils.

What is the answer, then? To bring the wandering mind back to the task, whatever it happens to be – whether reading a book, writing a paper, having a conversation, etc. – over and over again without denying other mental states. It is this directing and re-directing of focus that allows your attentional muscles to grow.

Remembering to redirect your attention throughout the day can be challenging, but it isn’t the most challenging part. The hardest part is resisting the urge to criticize yourself for losing focus in the first place. You must try and get over this tendency as much as possible. Not only will self-criticism drain your mental energy, but it may very well derail any efforts to become more focused and mindful.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE HUMAN MIND: A BLUEPRINT FOR FOCUS

“Everyone in your life is vying for your attention.” – Isaiah Hankel, Ph.D. (source)

Here’ s another tidbit that you may want to keep in mind: distractions (i.e. mind wandering) further depletes your brain’s energy levels. In turn, this energy depletion makes it easier to succumb to distractions.

What to do? Here’s a four-point blueprint for maximizing focus.

POINT #1 – MONITOR YOUR ATTENTION.
You must track where your attention is going to make better use of it. When do you feel the most focused and attentive? What things cause you to lose focus on the task at hand? Track these things and prepare a plan of action.

POINT #2 – MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS.
There is a correlation between mental and bodily emotions and energy. If you are feeling happy or content, your brain will be more alert and active than if you’re downtrodden and lethargic. Do the things that make you feel more of the former and less of the things that make you feel more of the latter.

POINT #3 – LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY.
While it may sound downright paradoxical to call upon tech for more focus, the right type of technology can indeed help. Try downloading an app that blocks distracting websites. Or maybe one that tracks productivity and emails daily reports. Do whatever works for you.

POINT #4 – DON’T GIVE UP.
For the vast majority, building up a cognitive reserve of focus is a timely and challenging undertaking. Don’t allow your emotions and negative self-talk (both forms of mind-wandering) to take you off track. If you put in the time and effort, you will be a more focused, happier, and productive individual!

source: https://www.powerofpositivity.com/focus-mind-psychologists-explain/ 

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Dealing with Uncertainty About What Path to Take

The amount of time we spend fretting over what path to take, when we’re feeling uncertain, can sometimes be staggering.
We’re entering into unknown territory, and we don’t know how to proceed. It happens all the time for many of us: we start a new job, launch a new venture, change careers, have to deal with incredible change, decide to write a book or create something online, put ourselves in a new social situation.
Some of the things we do in response to this uncertainty:
  • Extensive research, often to the point of very diminishing returns, sometimes to the point of being overwhelmed by how much information we’ve found.
  • Buy books, courses, programs, other materials that we think will guide us — this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but in truth, none of this will give us certainty.
  • Try to find teachers or other people who will guide us, who have been there before — again, hoping that they’ll give us certainty, but often this isn’t a magic pill either.
  • Delay making a decision, putting it off over and over because it’s too hard to decide. Avoid, avoid. This might be the most common option, actually.
  • Give up because you don’t know if you can do it, don’t know what to do, don’t know what the hell you’re doing. This is pretty common too — in fact, most people give up before they even start.
  • These are very common reactions to entering into uncertainty, but usually not very helpful. They get in the way of doing the work and living the life we’d like.
So how do we deal with the uncertain path that we’d like to embark upon?
It’s not always easy, but I’ve found there to be a set of practices that can help tremendously.
The Mindset Shift
The first mindset shift to consider is that uncertainty is not bad, or something to be avoided. It’s a natural part of doing anything meaningful. In fact, feeling uncertainty is a great sign that you’re doing something challenging and meaningful.
Uncertainty can be embraced, opened up to, even loved. We can learn to cherish the uncertainty in our lives, if we shift our mindset and practice with it.
The second mindset shift is to see an uncertain path as a practice opportunity. It’s not something to run from, but a place to stay, so that we can grow, learn, and create.
Every time we feel uncertainty, it can be seen as a calling to open up and practice. To turn towards and try a new way of doing things, rather than indulging in old, unhelpful patterns.
The Uncertainty Practices
So let’s say you’re about to head down an uncertain path — starting a new job, moving into a new phase of your life, writing a book, launching a business or product …
How do you open to the uncertainty and practice with it?
Here’s what I’ve found to be useful, in writing books and launching programs, along with dealing with huge life changes:
  1. Stay in the uncertainty as a practice, and with devotion. You are staying in this place of uncertainty to practice with it, but also to serve those you care deeply about. They are worth it. Remind yourself of them, and that doing this for them is more important than your discomfort with uncertainty. Let yourself feel uncertainty in your body, staying with the sensations in the moment — and learn that it’s not a big deal to feel that uncertainty. With practice, this becomes easier and easier.
  2. Go with the gut (or the heart). If you’re unsure of what path to take (need to make some decisions), it’s easy to get frozen in indecision, because there’s not clear answer. You can ask a hundred people, and not get a clear way to make a decision. You can read a million articles and books, talk to experts, but there’s no right answer. And so, you have to learn to trust your gut. Or your heart. When I’m at a crossroads, what I try to do is sit still for a little while, contemplating the question. I feel into my heart, and decide what feels right. I don’t have any certainty, because there’s no right answer. Instead, I have to trust my gut or heart, and just go with it … the real trust is that even if it’s the wrong answer, I’ll be perfectly fine. More on that bit below.
  3. Embrace the not knowing. So you’ve used your heart to make an uncertain choice … but you don’t know exactly how it will go. That’s OK. In fact, you can embrace this not knowing … it’s like reading a book or watching a movie without knowing how things will unfold. That’s part of the fun! Not knowing is a beautiful thing, even though most of the time we really want to know. Can you take the next step without knowing, being completely open to how things might turn out? Being curious to find out more, without having a fixed idea of how it should be? Letting things be fluid and fresh? Try it and see!
  4. Let things unfold as you walk the path. As you move along this uncertain path, see how things turn out. Notice what you can notice, learn from this new information. For example, if I’m going to launch a new product, I don’t know how people will respond. I can launch it without knowing, and see how they respond, listen to their reactions, talk to them and find out more. If I’m dealing with a health issue, I can try different solutions, noticing how they affect things. I don’t know how things will unfold, but I can walk the path and find out.
  5. Get information, adjust the path. As you let things unfold, you’ll be gathering new information. You’ll learn whether things turned out as you expected or not. You’ll be open to all of this, but it might turn out that you need to make adjustments. For example, when I launched my Fearless Training Program, I didn’t know exactly what people would need in the program, or how they’d respond to the training. Listening to them has helped me to understand better, and I’ve adjusted the program a lot in the past 18 months. Over and over, I listen and learn and adjust. It’s good to build in regular reviews so you can make adjustments as you walk the uncertain path — weekly reviews are great.
  6. Learn to trust you’ll be fine. You might flop on your face — but what’s the worst-case scenario (of all likely outcomes)? Probably nothing too bad. You won’t die, in most cases. What I’ve learned is to trust that things will turn out fine. Not as I expect, but fine. I might fail, but I learn to deal with the failure. A failure is just a way to grow, learn, get better. It’s not the end of the world. Walking the uncertain path, let yourself develop trust in yourself to respond resiliently to whatever happens. With this trust, you’ll learn that you don’t need to avoid the uncertainty.
  7. Create rituals to support the uncertainty. All of this is great in an ideal world — but in reality, we’re likely to go to our old patterns. The way to work with this is through rituals designed to support these practices. For example, you might start your day with meditation, letting yourself feel the uncertainty in your body. You might set a focus session for first thing in your work day, where you let yourself push into uncertainty every day, at least once a day. You might set up a weekly review, where you make adjustments based on how things are unfolding. In that review, you might notice how things are going just fine, and let that cultivate trust in the process and in yourself to handle things. You might get a group of advisors and check in with them once a month, talking to them about your uncertainty. Figure out what rituals you need to support your practice with uncertainty, and set them up.
  8. This path of uncertainty isn’t anything you can’t handle. Many people have walked similar uncertain paths in the past, and are doing so now. You can do it just as well as anyone.
Our paths must contain uncertainty, because no one knows what the hell they’re doing. We’re making it up as we go along, learning as we go, and if we’re conscious about it, we can dance with the uncertainty with a smile on our face.
BY LEO BABAUTA
POSTED: TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2020


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Positive Self-Talk: 7 Things Mentally Healthy People Tell Themselves

The messages we give to ourselves every day have enormous power. Anything that is repeated and repeated and repeated can become “truth” — even when it isn’t. Any coach will tell you that practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect but it certainly does make permanent.

Repeating negative messages can wear down our sense of self as surely as a constant stream of water will wear down even the hardest stone. Repeating positive messages, on the other hand, is more like creating a pearl in an oyster. With each additional positive message, our confidence and competence grows.

Positive psychologists have studied this extensively. As long ago as the 1950s, Abraham Maslow said that a self-actualized person is someone who focuses on her talents and strengths. Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center Dr. Martin Seligman, who has been called the father of positive psychology, has found that when people identify and use their top strengths regularly, they can be more productive and can experience a high level of self-esteem. (If you’d like to identify your top strengths, you can take Dr. Seligman’s free quiz).

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has concluded that positivity helps “broaden our ideas about possible actions, opening our awareness to a wider range of thoughts and actions than is typical.”

What all this means on a practical level is that deciding to emphasize the positive is the key to a happy and productive life. Yes, deciding. Where we put our attention is a decision. It can seem like dark clouds cover every silver lining. But that silver lining is still there if we look for it.

Feeling good (or at least better) will not happen if we tell ourselves over and over that we are helpless and the situation is hopeless. To strengthen or improve our mental health, we all need to think the way mentally healthy people think: Shifting our focus from all that is wrong to whatever we can find that is good, positive and possible in ourselves, other people and in our situation is the key to thriving.

7 Things Mentally Healthy People Tell Themselves

“I am a lovable.” No child is born who is not lovable. Look at any newborn. That button nose and those tiny fingers and toes are meant to engage adult’s protective and loving feelings. You were no different. The adults around you when you were small may have been too wounded, too ill or to overwhelmed to love you but that is on them. You were and are — just by the fact of your existence — a lovable person.

“I am capable.” From the time they take their first breath, humans are wired to learn, to adapt, and to grow. You have been learning and growing every minute. You may not have been taught all you need to know to manage your feelings or to take care of yourself. You may have learned unusual behaviors or in order to survive. But you are never too old to learn new skills. Anything you’ve learned that is not helpful or healthy can be unlearned.

“Most other people are lovable and capable, too.” It’s crucial not to let negative or painful experiences with a few negative or toxic individuals color our opinion of everyone. The majority of people in the world do mean well and are doing the best they can. Once we’re adults, we can choose who we want to surround ourselves with. We can seek out the people who are living lives that are decent, warm and contributing good to the world.

“Success comes from doing.” It’s been proven over and over again by researchers: Feeling good comes from doing good things. Positive self-esteem is the outcome, not the prerequisite, for being successful in relationships, school, work, sports, hobbies —  just about anything. We all have a choice whether we wait to feel better or we do the things that we know will help us become better.

“Challenges are opportunities.” Life isn’t always easy or fair. How we meet challenges and obstacles is a choice. Healthy people find ways to engage with a problem and look for ways to solve it. They refuse to let their fears keep them from trying something new, even if it is difficult. Stretching ourselves outside of our comfort zones is what helps us grow. Mentally healthy people also recognize that sometimes the opportunity hidden inside a challenge is the opportunity to say “no.” Not all problems are worth solving. Not all problems can be “solved” as they are defined.

“It is only human to make mistakes”: Mentally healthy people know that a mistake is not the reason to give up. It is an opportunity to learn and try again. Willingness to acknowledge and fix our errors is a mark of strength. Cultivating the courage to be imperfect is central to being willing to try again.

“I have what it takes to cope with change — and to make changes.” Change is inevitable in life. Mentally healthy people believe in their ability to cope and to adapt to changes. They aren’t unrealistic. They don’t deny the seriousness of a problem. They do acknowledge when a situation is very difficult. They don’t criticize themselves for not wanting to deal with whatever it is they have to deal with. But they have a deep seated belief that if they do tackle the problem, they will eventually find a solution or a way around it.

 

By Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.     8 Jul 2018


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Clinomania is the excessive desire to lay in bed all day.

  • Your shoes are the first thing people subconsciously notice about you.

  • People don’t listen to the smartest person in the room, they listen to whoever acts as if they know what’s right, according to a study.
  • The older you get, the less people you trust.
Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. This is mostly due to the hormonal changes that women often experience.

  • When ignored by someone whose attention means the most to you, the reaction in the brain is similar to physical pain.

 

  • Pistanthrophobia is a common fear of trusting people due to past experiences with relationships gone bad.

  • Studies show acting confidently is the surest key to success – If you fake it, you will make it.

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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14 Things Pressure-less People Do (and You Can, Too)

An active imagination helps. So does a confident stride.

Posted Aug 06, 2015      Hendrie Weisinger Ph.D. Hendrie Weisinger Ph.D.       Thicken Your Skin

I’ve studied how pressure affects performance, and the best way to manage it, for more than 20 years. I’ve interviewed elite athletes, Navy SEALs, entrepreneurs, ER doctors and nurses, hedge fund managers, air traffic controllers, and others who perform their best in pressure moments more often than not. These individuals do not “rise to the occasion,” as conventional thinking instructs; rather they do their best by depressurizing—lessening the pressure of the moment.

Here are 14 things these pressure-less people do to optimize performance:

1. They apply a positive mindset.

Pressure-less individuals perceive their pressure moments—situations in which they have something at stake and the outcome is dependent on their performance—using words like opportunity, challenge, and fun. This allows them to approach the moment with confidence instead of trepidation.

2. They believe they get second chances.

Pressure-less people believe that no matter how important the presentation, sales call, audition, game or match, other opportunities will come their way. Because they believe this, they can relax and avoid “do or die” thinking that intensifies pressure feelings.

3. They are control freaks.

Pressure-less people stay focused on what they can control in the moment. This allows them to avoid distracting and worrisome thoughts that distort their thinking and disrupt their performance.

4. They practice a mindset of excellence.

Pressure-less people realize it heightens pressure to always try to be Number One or to beat the competition. They know it is unrealistic to think you can always be Top Dog. Instead, their mindset is to focus on developing their own excellence. Being their personal best is more important than beating others, so competitive pressures are lessened.

5. They use positive imagination.

Pressure-less individuals consciously imagine themselves in all sorts of successful situations. Scoring a winning touchdown, being a Hollywood star, curing cancer, contributing to world peace—these might border on fantasy but they serve the function of creating positive feelings and emotions, like confidence and enthusiasm, two enemies of pressure.

6. They share pressure feelings.

To make sure they don’t burst from pressure, pressure-less people disclose their feelings of pressure with others. They have learned, unlike those that bottle up their feelings, that sharing stressful feelings helps alleviate them and, more often than not, helps generate solutions to tackle the pressures they are facing.

confidence

7. They avoid distraction.

Whether it’s taking a test, interviewing for a job, making a putt, or making a critical decision, pressure-less people stay focused on the task. Rather than become anxious about the outcome of a negative performance, they stay in the moment so their memory, attention, and judgment are not comprised. They do this in a variety of ways, such as tuning into their senses and remembering that their mission is to do their best.

8. They walk like a champ.

Pressure-less people already know what science now touts as neurological fact: Your posture and gait affect how you feel. Pressure-less people have some Marine in them—they stand up straight and walk with a confident swagger.

9. They celebrate micro successes.

Pressure-less people boost their confidence by recognizing their small successes and by doing so, fuel their enthusiasm and belief that they will accomplish their goal—two factors that reduce feelings of pressure and keep them motivated. They implement this strategy by being process-oriented, not outcome oriented. For example, according to their logic, a success is a good interview; continually having good interviews will eventually land a job.

10. They regulate their arousal.

Pressure-less people keep themselves calm so they never panic in a pressure moment, not even when an unexpected glitch occurs. Consciously tuning to their breathing in the moment and practicing disciplines such as relaxation training, yoga, and meditation on a weekly—if not daily—basis provides them with the skill of keeping their heart from zooming and butterflies out of their stomach.

11. They prepare for the worse.

Pressure-less people can think on their feet because they are in the habit of anticipating possible glitches that might occur. They solve these glitches before they arise and mentally rehearse scenarios to practice their execution, paying particular attention to the consequences of their response and how they will continue to respond. If and when the glitch occurs, the pressure-less person still feels in control and is able to attend to task completion.

12. They flashback their successes.

Pressure-less people experience less pressure because they know they have been successful in similar situations. In a pressure moment, they frequently flashback on a specific time they performed well under pressure. That visual image, and the positive thoughts it evokes, surges confidence within them and relaxes them, too.

13. They affirm their worth.

Pressure-less people experience less pressure because they feel they have value even if they fail in the moment. This feeling prevents them from being “overly attached” to the outcome—a pressure intensifier. Pressure-less people frequently remind themselves of their positive attributes that are independent of their job. Doing so prevents them from defining their worth in how they perform. Pressure-less people frequently remind their children that they are great kids and that they are proud of them independent of how well they perform in school or other activities. Their kids feel less pressure, too.

14. They march to their own beat.

Pressure-less people use their own values and interests to navigate their lives. They are more concerned with living up to their own expectations and following their own dreams than trying to please others, a source of pressure for most.


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How To Boost Your Confidence: 6 Scientific Ways To Feel Better About Yourself

May 14, 2014     Lecia Bushak

If you’ve ever acted on the saying “fake it till you make it,” you probably recognize the benefits of playing it cool and confident whether at work, at trying new things, or in social settings.

Confidence can make or break a lot of things. People who are sure of themselves tend to do better at interviews, on dates, and in accomplishing tasks. In our extrovert-centric society, confidence can get you a job, a girlfriend, and the courage to say no to people or situations that are toxic to you. Confidence is knowing yourself and taking care of yourself, too. Unfortunately, this societal view of exuberant confidence — where people who talk a lot are considered more competent than people who actually know more and do better — can be good in some ways, and harmful for introverts.

But it’s always a fine balance. While being sure of yourself is important, it’s not exactly great to be overly-confident, either, especially if you lack competence. Exuding an overabundance of confidence can be seen as arrogant, or having the assumption that you are better than you really are. Finding a balance — being aware of your weaknesses but also your strengths — is the best way to roll. Self-assess to the reality in the middle. Know that quiet competence is often more important than blatant confidence. And if you’re currently feeling like you’re worthless, read the below tips that can assist you in boosting your sense of self-worth so that you can start gaining that much-needed competence.

Exercise Consistently

Exercise goes a long way for a lot of aspects of life, from health and stress reduction to even confidence. When you work out, your brain releases feel-good hormones that give you that “runner’s high,” a natural feeling of accomplishment, happiness, and relaxation. After a good run, your body feels happy tired, your stomach ever so slightly more toned, and you’ve set the pace for a productive day. Exercising consistently will do wonders for both your mind and body. Being fit and feeling attractive can a huge self-esteem boost.

Dress Well

This may seem rather shallow, but grooming is an important part of our biology as mammals and social beings. Taking care of yourself — including little things like keeping your nails trim, flossing your teeth, and showering — can make a big difference in how you feel about yourself. Finding new clothes to wear in fresh combinations, or going out and buying a few new outfits, can give your self-confidence the small boost it needs to get going. Are you having a bad day, procrastinating, and feeling gross? Take a shower. Being clean is a refreshing feeling, and will give you the kick you need to start getting things done.

Woman Kicking Leg Up In Front of Graffiti Wall

 

Stay Social

Getting involved with other people will help bring you out of your negative head space. If you’re finding yourself experiencing anxiety about your life’s problems, spend some time helping others with their own. Assisting someone in need boosts happiness and self-worth; even if you don’t have your life in order, you can feel like you are being helpful and productive to someone else.

Squash Negative Thoughts Like Bugs

It’s often easy to get into negative self-talk mode: Why haven’t you done this yet? When will you find a better job? Why are you still single or still with this loser? What’s wrong with you? Once these thoughts start popping up, squash them like bugs, then replace them with more positive ones.

On that note, resilience is an important part of staying confident. Don’t beat yourself up when you get rejected by a job, love interest, or when you fail. Life doesn’t always turn out to be what we think it will, and being prepared for this — as well as being able to adapt — is called resilience. Stronger resilience naturally boosts your confidence, since you won’t be too hard on yourself. “When life doesn’t quite turn out the way you expect it will or want it to, give yourself a little wiggle room,” Sara Elliott writes on How Stuff Works. “The more you reward yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new instead of bashing yourself for a less-than-stellar performance, the easier it will be to tackle the next challenge with confidence.”

Practice Until You’re Competent

Learning a new skill or language can help boost your confidence, especially if it’s outside of work. While “faking it till you make it” can work in some situations, know that you actually have to put in the time and hard work to gain a skill or get better at something. Once you’ve put in your hours, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you can play a full song on the piano or that you’ve written your first good essay after all the crap.

But remember this all involves little steps. “If you want to be a more competent writer, for example, don’t try to tackle the entire profession of writing all at once,” Leo Babauta writes on zenhabits. Instead, take baby steps: write a little bit every day. “Journal, blog, write short stories, do some freelance writing. The more you’ll write, the better you’ll be.” Practicing even a little bit every day will increase your competence, and the better you get at something, the stronger your confidence will be.

Smile

Happy body language can make you feel better about yourself. In a study completed by social psychologist Amy Cuddy, researchers found that manifesting fake “high-power poses” reduced cortisol, or the stress hormone, and boosted testosterone and self-confidence. Smiling, standing up straight with your shoulders back and chin up, and manifesting more “open” and relaxed poses will actually help you feel more confident.


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6 Habits Of Resilient People

What makes some people persevere through trying circumstances while others begin flailing at the first sign of crisis? Understanding the key qualities of resilient people is the first step to cultivating that bounce-back quality in yourself.

By Gwen Moran

On April Fool’s Day 2011, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer. As a freelance writer with a career I love and a family that depends on my income, I spent most of the year juggling surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation with assignments, interviews, and youth soccer schedules. Throughout, friends and colleagues seemed surprised that I remained relatively active and pretty optimistic.

What else was there to do, I wondered. Taking to my bed for the better part of a year wasn’t an option for my personality or my bank account. Why not look at the bright side of early diagnosis and great prognosis and keep going? During that time, I contributed to two books, wrote dozens of articles and ended the year with a clean bill of health.

Since then, I’ve been more curious than ever about why some people persevere through trying circumstances while others begin flailing at the first sign of crisis. I wondered if there were commonalities among resilient people and whether it’s possible to develop those qualities and strong points. The answers, according to the experts, are yes and yes. Here’s what those never-say-die folks have in common–and how you can develop them for yourself.

1. They Build Relationships.

People who bounce back tend to have a network of supportive people around them, says Michael Ungar, Ph.D., co-director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. For some people, that’s a close-knit family, but for others it’s a carefully cultivated group of friends, colleagues, mentors and others who actually care and are willing to help. Ungar says he’s seen the tendency to seek out support sources in children as young as five years old: When the family unit isn’t functioning in that way, children tend to reach out to coaches, teachers or other adults as a support network. Similarly, resilient adults seek out others who care about them who can offer emotional, professional or other assistance when times get tough.

2. They Reframe Past Hurts.

Lorenn Walker had just left a hotel bar one night in 1976 when an unknown assailant nearly murdered her. He fled, but she was left badly injured, needing surgery on her face. Her recovery took four months. Through therapy and willfully refusing to be mired in fear and resentment, she was able to “reframe,” or think about the situation in a different way. Instead of resenting the scars and the fearful memories, the Waialua, Hawaii, lawyer and counselor sees the attack as the catalyst that led her to her work in what she calls restorative justice–counseling prisoners and victims of violent crime in how to make peace with the past and cultivate meaning in their lives.

“You have the power to determine how you’re going to look at a situation, and you don’t give that power to other people, particularly people who are bad or who hurt you,” she says.

3. They Accept Failure.

Paul LeBuffe lectures about resilience as part of his role as director of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, a Villanova, Pennsylvania, facility that works with educators and mental health professionals to develop more resilient children. It’s not uncommon for his audience to include young people who were highly successful students, but graduated during the recession and are devastated at their inability to find jobs.

“They don’t know how to cope with the fact that they didn’t get the first job they applied for. So we hear a lot about these young people sitting in their parents’ basements playing video games,” he says.

If you don’t give yourself the opportunity to fail sometimes and accept it as a part of life, you’re going to struggle with bouncing back, LeBuffe says. Successfully emerging from failure develops the ability to be optimistic that things can be bad now, but they’ll be okay eventually, he says.

4. They Have Multiple Identities.

If you get most of your self-worth from your job and you get fired, you’ve suddenly lost both your source of income and a big part of your identity, says Ungar. Resilient people often have a number of areas from which they get their sense of self-worth, says Ungar. They may have deep friendships or family connections, strong faith, or a leadership role in the community. They’re better able to bounce back, because even if one goes away, they still have a sense of connection and being valued from those other areas, he says.

5. They Practice Forgiveness.

Whether it’s forgiving yourself for a failure or forgiving someone else for an injury or injustice, being able to let go of past hurts and move on is an essential component of resilience, Walker says. When you find yourself “ruminating about grievances and negative stories, you have to just stop yourself and remind yourself of what you have to be grateful for,” she says. If you’re not a naturally forgiving person, this takes practice, but it is a skill that can be mastered, she adds.


6. They Have a Sense of Purpose.

LeBuffe says resilient people have a sense of purpose that helps them analyze their situations and plot the next moves. This stems from a set of values that is unique to each individual. When you know what’s important to you, whether it’s family, faith, money, career, or something else, you can prioritize what needs your attention most immediately to help you get back to where you want to be. That goes for organizations, as well. When everyone knows the ultimate goal, they can make meaningful contributions. When they don’t, they’re mired in indecision.

“If the people who work in a company don’t know the values, they’re paralyzed. They have to keep coming back to senior management to say, ‘What about going after this market?’ or ‘What do you think about extending credit another 30 days?’ instead of being able to act adaptively,” he says. “It’s the same for people. You have to know what’s important to you to be able to take action.”

source: www.fastcompany.com