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How do we gain confidence and prevent Alderaan from becoming a fiery ball of interstellar ash?

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Amy Cuddy TED Talk:

SUCCESS Magazine article, "7 Mental Hacks to Be More Confident in Yourself":

Business Insider article on deliberate practice:



"5 Crazy Simple Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done!" (How to Adult video on productivity):


Confidence can be an elusive elixir.  To quote Princess Leia, "It often feels that the more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems (and confidence) will slip through your fingers."  So, how do we gain confidence and prevent Alderaan from becoming a fiery ball of interstellar ash?  Yeah, that's a pretty loose metaphor but you get my point!

Let's start by pinning down what confidence is.  Confidence is not arrogance or narcissism, which are both based on unrealistically positive views of your self, your skills, or your ability to do like, really complicated, large jobs.  In fact, confidence is much more about seeing thing as they actually are.  In Lifehacker parlance, "Confidence is knowing what you're good at, the value you provide, and acting in a way that conveys that to others," or as psychologists who study the topic put it, confidence is one part self-esteem, one part optimism, and one part courage, all of which come into play when we respond to challenges.  

Now, there's some sad news and some glad news.  Sad first, research suggests that our level of confidence, like our level of happiness, is partly based on factors outside of our control, such as genes or the social environment in which we were raised. So the glad news is that a substantial amount of our confidence is completely under our control and here are a few of the ways that we can optimize it.  

Let's say you're heading into a job interview and you want that extra confidence boost.  Studies show that for everyone from athletes to astronauts, closing your eyes and vividly imagining a successful outcome can boost your confidence and your ability to actualize that outcome.  

You can also take a few minutes to strike what Dr. Amy Cuddy calls power poses: physical stances that might make us feel more empowered.  Replications of this original study have been inconclusive, so mmm, but if it works for you, go for it.  

Number three, be all about that bass. It's probably not that surprising listening to uplifting music has been shown to elevate mood and confidence, but the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University conducted research indicating that specifically listening to bass-heavy tunes has the power to make you feel more confident.  I like an excuse to pump the bass in my Honda Civic.

Fourth, a couple of quick fixes. Exercise. Exercise leads to endorphin releases, which can give us a helpful boost.  Also, think about dressing in clothes that make you feel powerful.  It's much easier to feel confident and capable when you feel like your outfit is put together rather than thrown together.  

These tips are worth giving a try if you're in a jam, and if you can make them habitual, they might lead to lasting change. Speaking of change, that's actually the topic of tip number five. In order to boost confidence, cultivate what author and Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck calls a "growth mindset."  Part of the reason people may lack confidence is their belief system about talents and abilities.  Many of us have the belief that you're either born with certain talents or you're not, and there's not much you can do to change things. Thus, when we encounter an activity that challenges us, we assume that we've discovered "another thing that we're not good at." Not only is this "fixed mindset" discouraging-it's also ust not true. Extensive neurological research has shown that having a "growth mindset" is a far more realistic approach to how the brain actually works. You should try to replace self-criticism with curiosity, because "talent" is something grown, it's not just innate. Through practice, especially what researchers call deep or deliberate practice, we are all able to create new skills or profoundly improve abilities we already have. Some links to article and books about deep practice are in the doobly-doo. One last thought is this: As you're working on personal development, always be sure to break things down into small, achievable goals. This helps you avoid the feeling of being completely overwhelmed by all of the things. For more on this, be sure to check out our previous video on productivity. Link below. Number six: Make confidence building a daily habit. Have an empowering morning routine where you plan and envision a successful day. Read inspiring books, practice mindfulness, and spend some time with people who uplift and believe in you. We've said it before and we'll say it again: We are not meant to fight alone. Finally, remember that you are not broken or alone for feeling unconfident. We live in an era of cultivated personas, where social media tells us that everyone else has it all figured out. The truth, though, is that we're all stumbling down our own paths to adult-ness. So be kind to others and yourself; don't be afraid to "practice failure," try new strategies, and ask for advice. As the great American psychologist Rocky Balboa once said, "It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep movin' forward. That's how winning is done!" So get out there, fellow stumblers, and keep movin' forward. Let us know your methods for gaining confidence in the comments section below- bonus points for wrapping it into a Star Wars simile. If you want to support us in making this sweet, sweet adulting content, and you want to help out this boogie fern right there- it's not a fern, it's a ficus, boogie ficus!- you can help us out at And if you want to just see more of Rachel and me talking about this stuff you can go to and subscribe. Boogie Ficus. It often feels that the more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems- I mean confidence- will grip . . . through your grip. [laughter] Slip your grip! This plant is having a good time. [laughter] A-boogie boogie boogie, a-boogie boogie boogie! This pot is, like, just wobbly. Got a boogie tree- this is a boogie tree. [laughter] Can you see the boogie tree? [off screen] Oh yeah. I can see it shake. [Hank] You can see a boogie. [laughter, off screen] Okay! We have one minute to spare to get you out of here. [Hank] Oh really?