BBETTERDAILY: How’s Your Confidence?

9 Little-Known Habits of Confident People

“With confidence, you have won before you have started.” — Marcus Garvey

Confidence is often the single differentiator between people who get what they want and people who don’t. Those who think and believe they can do something — run a marathon, start an entrepreneurial venture, ask someone out (and have them say yes), win a competitive promotion, fit into their pre-pregnancy jeans, build a fun social circle, well… they do it.

Our mind is a very powerful tool, and the impact of our thoughts and words cannot be underestimated. Our thoughts create our emotions. Our emotions create our actions. Our actions create our life. Confident people have greater control over their minds and have tuned their mental station to one of “I can.”

Here are nine things that confident people do that you can apply to your life:

1. Do not overcomplicate. You want something? Great! Create a plan to make it yours. Keep your eye on the prize and do not get distracted by other peoples noise or by your own ability to over-think.

2. Focus on what you want. Confident people keep a positive vision in mind of the future. They expect good things to happen to them, and as a result they do, as expectation is a very powerful force.

3. Act as if it’s already yours. People who are self-assured allow their language and actions to be in line with their outcome. This inspires confidence in others.

4. Use words with intention. Consider the difference with two people discussing their new blog. One could be, “Yes, I am a blogger. You like vintage purses too? Awesome! We must connect — check out the new images I posted at…” vs. “Well, I am trying to blog but am not sure I am doing it right (nervous laugh).” Who do you think gets the most views and shares?

5. Listen but don’t pay heed to others’ opinions. Other people are well meaning and sometimes err on the side of caution. Confident people listen to other people but do not let their difference of perspective take them off track. It’s your life!

6. Dedicate time to what matters. Confident people are happy to say no to things to make sure they have time and energy for their priorities. Funnily enough, people treat them with more respect as a result.

7. Act humble. Confident types don’t talk endlessly about their successes. I was once at a large corporate event and I was speaking to an outgoing and likeable woman who said she “worked in publishing.” I found out later that evening that she was the editor-in-chief of one New York’s most influential magazines. Confident people let their success speak for itself and don’t need to vocalize it.

8. Know failure is sometimes inevitable and don’t fear it. Worrying about failure can keep us from doing anything at all. Confident people are still confident even when they fail. When the chips are down they know it will pass.

9. Repeat all of the above! Confidence building takes a lifetime. The more we practice confidence as an attitude, the easier it becomes.

The most successful and happy people are not born the most rich, beautiful or talented. They just believe in themselves and go for what they want. Confidence is also a highly attractive quality in others as we all secretly aspire to have more self-assurance. “I can” and “I can’t” thoughts create very different emotional spirals, as the mind is very obedient and follows whichever path we direct it. Which do you choose?

Article by: Susie Moore http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susie-moore/habits-confident-people_b_4876364.html

BBETTERDAILY: Brain Building

10 Surprising Things That Benefit Our Brains That You Can Do Every Day

This Article First Appeared At Huff Post:

Our brains are by far our most important organs.  Here are 10 of the most surprising things our brains do and what we can learn from them:

1. Your brain does creative work better when you’re tired.

Here’s how it breaks down:

If you’re a morning lark, say, you’ll want to favor those morning hours when you’re feeling fresher to get your most demanding, analytic work done. Using your brain to solve problems, answer questions and make decisions is best done when you’re at your peak.  For night owls, this is obviously a much later period in the day.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to do creative work, you’ll actually have more luck when you’re more tired and your brain isn’t functioning as efficiently. This sounds crazy, but it actually makes sense when you look at the reasoning behind it. It’s one of the reasons that great ideas often happen in the shower after a long day of work.

If you’re tired, your brain is not as good at filtering out distractions and focusing on a particular task. It’s also a lot less efficient at remembering connections between ideas or concepts. These are both good things when it comes to creative work, since this kind of work requires us to make new connections, be open to new ideas and think in new ways. So a tired, fuzzy brain is much more use to us when working on creative projects.

This Scientific American article explains how distractions can actually be a good thing for creative thinking:

Insight problems involve thinking outside the box. This is where susceptibility to “distraction” can be of benefit. At off-peak times we are less focused, and may consider a broader range of information. This wider scope gives us access to more alternatives and diverse interpretations, thus fostering innovation and insight.

2. Stress can change the size of your brain (and make it smaller).

I bet you didn’t know that stress is actually the most common cause of changes in brain function. I was surprised to find this out when I looked into how stress affects our brains.

I also found some research that showed signs of brain size decreasing due to stress.

One study used baby monkeys to test the effects of stress on development and long-term mental health. Half the monkeys were cared for by their peers for six months, while the other half remained with their mothers. Afterwards, the monkeys were returned to typical social groups for several months before the researchers scanned their brains.

In the monkeys who had been removed from their mothers and cared for by their peers,areas of their brains related to stress were still enlarged, even after being in normal social conditions for several months.

3. It is literally impossible for our brains to multitask.

Multitasking is something we’ve long been encouraged to practice, but it turns outmultitasking is actually impossible. When we think we’re multitasking, we’re actually context switching. That is, we’re quickly switching back and forth between different tasks rather than doing them at the same time.

The book Brain Rules explains how detrimental multitasking can be:

Research shows your error rate goes up 50 percent and it takes you twice as long to do things.

The problem with multitasking is that we’re splitting our brain’s resources. We’re giving less attention to each task, and probably performing worse on all of them:

When the brain tries to do two things at once, it divides and conquers, dedicating one-half of our gray matter to each task.

When our brains handle a single task, the prefrontal cortex plays a big part. Here’s how it helps us achieve a goal or complete a task:

The anterior part of this brain region forms the goal or intention — for example, “I want that cookie” — and the posterior prefrontal cortex talks to the rest of the brain so that your hand reaches toward the cookie jar and your mind knows whether you have the cookie.

A study in Paris found that when a second task was required, the brains of the study volunteers split up, with each hemisphere working alone on a task. The brain was overloaded by the second task and couldn’t perform at its full capacity, because it needed to split its resources.

4. Naps improve your brain’s day-to-day performance.

We’re pretty clear on how important sleep is for our brains, but what about naps? It turns out that these short bursts of sleep are actually really useful.

Here are a couple of ways that napping can benefit the brain:

Improved Memory

In one study, participants memorized illustrated cards to test their memory strength. After memorizing a set of cards, they had a 40-minute break wherein one group napped and the other stayed awake. After the break both groups were tested on their memory of the cards, and the group who had napped performed better:

Much to the surprise of the researchers, the sleep group performed significantly better, retaining on average 85 percent of the patterns, compared to 60 percent for those who had remained awake.

Apparently, napping actually helps our brain solidify memories:

Research indicates that when a memory is first recorded in the brain — in the hippocampus, to be specific — it’s still “fragile” and easily forgotten, especially if the brain is asked to memorize more things. Napping, it seems, pushes memories to the neocortex, the brain’s “more permanent storage,” preventing them from being “overwritten.”

What Happens in the Brain During a Nap

Some recent research has found that the right side of the brain is far more active during a nap than the left side, which stays fairly quiet while we’re asleep. Despite the fact that 95 percent of the population is right-handed, with the left side of their brains being the most dominant, the right side is consistently the more active hemisphere during sleep.

The study’s author, Andrei Medvedev, speculated that the right side of the brain handles “housekeeping” duties while we’re asleep.

So while the left side of your brain takes some time off to relax, the right side is clearing out your temporary storage areas, pushing information into long-term storage and solidifying your memories from the day.

5. Your vision trumps all other senses.

Despite being one of our five main senses, vision seems to take precedence over the others:

Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10 percent of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65 percent.

Pictures beat text as well, in part because reading is so inefficient for us. Our brain sees words as lots of tiny pictures, and we have to identify certain features in the letters to be able to read them. That takes time.

In fact, vision is so powerful that the best wine tasters in the world have been known to describe a dyed white wine as a red.

Not only is it surprising that we rely on our vision so much, but it actually isn’t even that good! Take this fact, for instance:

Our brain is doing all this guessing because it doesn’t know where things are. In a three-dimensional world, the light actually falls on our retina in a two-dimensional fashion. So our brain approximates viewable image.

Let’s look at this image. It shows you how much of your brain is dedicated just to vision and how it affects other parts of the brain. It’s a truly staggering amount, compared to any other areas:

6. Introversion and extroversion come from different wiring in the brain.

I just recently realized that introversion and extroversion are not actually related to how outgoing or shy we are but to how our brains recharge.

Here’s how the brains of introverts and extroverts differ:

Research has actually found that there is a difference in the brains of extroverted and introverted people in terms of how we process rewards and how our genetic makeup differs. Extroverts’ brains respond more strongly when a gamble pays off. Part of this is simply genetic, but it’s partly a difference in their dopamine systems as well.

An experiment that had people take gambles while in a brain scanner found the following:

When the gambles they took paid off, the more extroverted group showed a stronger response in two crucial brain regions: the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens.

The nucleus accumbens is part of the dopamine system, which affects how we learn and is generally known for motivating us to search for rewards. The difference in the dopamine system in the extrovert’s brain tends to push them toward seeking out novelty, taking risks and enjoying unfamiliar or surprising situations more than others. The amygdala is responsible for processing emotional stimuli, which gives extroverts that rush of excitement when they try something highly stimulating that might overwhelm an introvert.

More research has actually shown that the difference comes from how introverts and extroverts process stimuli. That is, the stimulation coming into our brains is processed differently depending on your personality. For extroverts, the pathway is much shorter. It runs through an area where taste, touch, visual and auditory sensory processing take place. For introverts, stimuli run through a long, complicated pathway in areas of the brain associated with remembering, planning and solving problems.

7. We tend to like people who make mistakes more.

Apparently, making mistakes actually makes us more likeable, due to something called the pratfall effect.

Kevan Lee recently explained how this works on the Buffer blog:

Those who never make mistakes are perceived as less likeable than those who commit the occasional faux pas. Messing up draws people closer to you, makes you more human. Perfection creates distance and an unattractive air of invincibility. Those of us with flaws win out every time.

This theory was tested by psychologist Elliot Aronson. In his test, he asked participants to listen to recordings of people answering a quiz. Select recordings included the sound of the person knocking over a cup of coffee. When participants were asked to rate the quizzers on likability, the coffee-spill group came out on top.

So this is why we tend to dislike people who seem perfect! And now we know that making minor mistakes isn’t the worst thing in the world; in fact, it can work in our favor.

8. Meditation can rewire your brain for the better.

Here’s another one that really surprised me. I thought meditation was only good for improving focus and helping me stay calm throughout the day, but it actually has a whole bunch of great benefits.

Here are a few examples:

What happens without meditation is that there’s a section of our brains that’s sometimes called the “me center.” (It’s technically the medial prefrontal cortex.) This is the part that processes information relating to ourselves and our experiences. Normally the neural pathways from the bodily sensation and fear centers of the brain to the “me center” are really strong. When you experience a scary or upsetting sensation, it triggers a strong reaction in your “me center,” making you feel scared and under attack.

Here is how anxiety and agitation decrease with just a 20-minute meditation session:

When we meditate, especially when we are just getting started with meditation, we weaken this neural connection. This means that we don’t react as strongly to sensations that might have once lit up our “me centers.” As we weaken this connection, we simultaneously strengthen the connection between what’s known as our “assessment center” (the part of our brains known for reasoning) and our bodily sensation and fear centers. So when we experience scary or upsetting sensations, we can more easily look at them rationally. Here’s a good example:

For example, when you experience pain, rather than becoming anxious and assuming it means something is wrong with you, you can watch the pain rise and fall without becoming ensnared in a story about what it might mean.

One of the things that meditation has been linked to is improving rapid memory recall. Catherine Kerr, a researcher at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center, found that people who practiced mindful meditation were able to adjust the brain wave that screens out distractions and increase their productivity more quickly that those who did not meditate. She said that this ability to ignore distractions could explain “their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.” This seems to be very similar to the power of being exposed to new situations, which will also dramatically improve our memory of things.

Meditation has also been linked to increasing compassion, decreasing stress, improving memory skills and even increasing the amount of gray matter in the brain.

9. Exercise can reorganize the brain and boost your willpower.

Sure, exercise is good for your body, but what about your brain? Well, apparently there’s a link between exercise and mental alertness, in a similar way that happiness and exercise are related:

A lifetime of exercise can result in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary. Exercisers outperform couch potatoes in tests that measure long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, even so-called fluid-intelligence tasks.

Of course, exercise can also make us happier, as we’ve explored before:

If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising, and eventually happy.

At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released in your brain. The main purpose of endorphis is this, writes researcher McGovern:

These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria.

10. You can make your brain think time is going slowly by doing new things.

Ever wished you didn’t find yourself saying, “Where does the time go!” every June when you realize the year is half-over? This is a neat trick that relates to how our brains perceive time. Once you know how it works, you can trick your brain into thinking time is moving more slowly.

Essentially, our brains take a whole bunch of information from our senses and organize it in a way that makes sense to us, before we ever perceive it. So what we think is our sense of time is actually just a whole bunch of information presented to us in a particular way, as determined by our brains:

When our brains receive new information, it doesn’t necessarily come in the proper order. This information needs to be reorganized and presented to us in a form we understand. When familiar information is processed, this doesn’t take much time at all. New information, however, is a bit slower and makes time feel elongated.

Even stranger, it isn’t just a single area of the brain that controls our time perception; it’s done by a whole bunch of brain areas, unlike our common five senses, which can each be pinpointed to a single, specific area.

When we receive lots of new information, it takes our brains a while to process it all. The longer this processing takes, the longer that period of time feels.

When we’re in life-threatening situations, for instance, “we remember the time as longer because we record more of the experience. Life-threatening experiences make us really pay attention, but we don’t gain superhuman powers of perception.”

BBETTERDAILY: 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process.

Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don’t have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works.

And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they’re complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. And it’s not just a stereotype of the “tortured artist” — artists really may be more complicated people. Research has suggested that creativity involves the coming together of a multitude of traits, behaviors and social influences in a single person.

“It’s actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self,” Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University who has spent years researching creativity, told The Huffington Post. “The things that stand out the most are the paradoxes of the creative self … Imaginative people have messier minds.”

While there’s no “typical” creative type, there are some tell-tale characteristics and behaviors of highly creative people. Here are 18 things they do differently.

1. They daydream.

Creative types know, despite what their third-grade teachers may have said, that daydreaming is anything but a waste of time.

According to Kaufman and psychologist Rebecca L. McMillan, who co-authored a paper titled “Ode To Positive Constructive Daydreaming,” mind-wandering can aid in the process of “creative incubation.” And of course, many of us know from experience that our best ideas come seemingly out of the blue when our minds are elsewhere.

Although daydreaming may seem mindless, a 2012 study suggested it could actually involve a highly engaged brain state — daydreaming can lead to sudden connections and insights because it’s related to our ability to recall information in the face of distractions. Neuroscientists have also found that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity.

2. They observe everything.

The world is a creative person’s oyster — they see possibilities everywhere and are constantly taking in information that becomes fodder for creative expression. As Henry James is widely quoted, a writer is someone on whom “nothing is lost.”

The writer Joan Didion kept a notebook with her at all times, and said that she wrote down observations about people and events as, ultimately, a way to better understand the complexities and contradictions of her own mind:

“However dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable ‘I,’” Didion wrote in her essay On Keeping A Notebook. “We are talking about something private, about bits of the mind’s string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its marker.”

3. They work the hours that work for them.

Many great artists have said that they do their best work either very early in the morning or late at night. Vladimir Nabokov started writing immediately after he woke up at 6 or 7 a.m., and Frank Lloyd Wright made a practice of waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. and working for several hours before heading back to bed. No matter when it is, individuals with high creative output will often figure out what time it is that their minds start firing up, and structure their days accordingly.

4. They take time for solitude.

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone,” wrote the American existential psychologist Rollo May.

Artists and creatives are often stereotyped as being loners, and while this may not actually be the case, solitude can be the key to producing their best work. For Kaufman, this links back to daydreaming — we need to give ourselves the time alone to simply allow our minds to wander.

“You need to get in touch with that inner monologue to be able to express it,” he says. “It’s hard to find that inner creative voice if you’re … not getting in touch with yourself and reflecting on yourself.”

5. They turn life’s obstacles around.

Many of the most iconic stories and songs of all time have been inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak — and the silver lining of these challenges is that they may have been the catalyst to create great art. An emerging field of psychology called post-traumatic growth is suggesting that many people are able to use their hardships and early-life trauma for substantial creative growth. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people to grow in the areas of interpersonal relationships, spirituality, appreciation of life, personal strength, and — most importantly for creativity — seeing new possibilities in life.

“A lot of people are able to use that as the fuel they need to come up with a different perspective on reality,” says Kaufman. “What’s happened is that their view of the world as a safe place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered at some point in their life, causing them to go on the periphery and see things in a new, fresh light, and that’s very conducive to creativity.”

6. They seek out new experiences.

Creative people love to expose themselves to new experiences, sensations and states of mind — and this openness is a significant predictor of creative output.

“Openness to experience is consistently the strongest predictor of creative achievement,” says Kaufman. “This consists of lots of different facets, but they’re all related to each other: Intellectual curiosity, thrill seeking, openness to your emotions, openness to fantasy. The thing that brings them all together is a drive for cognitive and behavioral exploration of the world, your inner world and your outer world.”

7. They “fail up.”

Resilience is practically a prerequisite for creative success, says Kaufman. Doing creative work is often described as a process of failing repeatedly until you find something that sticks, and creatives — at least the successful ones — learn not to take failure so personally.

“Creatives fail and the really good ones fail often,” Forbes contributor Steven Kotler wrote in a piece on Einstein’s creative genius.

8. They ask the big questions.

Creative people are insatiably curious — they generally opt to live the examined life, and even as they get older, maintain a sense of curiosity about life. Whether through intense conversation or solitary mind-wandering, creatives look at the world around them and want to know why, and how, it is the way it is.

9. They people-watch.

 

Observant by nature and curious about the lives of others, creative types often love to people-watch — and they may generate some of their best ideas from it.

“[Marcel] Proust spent almost his whole life people-watching, and he wrote down his observations, and it eventually came out in his books,” says Kaufman. “For a lot of writers, people-watching is very important … They’re keen observers of human nature.”

10. They take risks.

Part of doing creative work is taking risks, and many creative types thrive off of taking risks in various aspects of their lives.

“There is a deep and meaningful connection between risk taking and creativity and it’s one that’s often overlooked,” contributor Steven Kotler wrote in Forbes. “Creativity is the act of making something from nothing. It requires making public those bets first placed by imagination. This is not a job for the timid. Time wasted, reputation tarnished, money not well spent — these are all by-products of creativity gone awry.”

11. They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression.

Nietzsche believed that one’s life and the world should be viewed as a work of art. Creative types may be more likely to see the world this way, and to constantly seek opportunities for self-expression in everyday life.

“Creative expression is self-expression,” says Kaufman. “Creativity is nothing more than an individual expression of your needs, desires and uniqueness.”

12. They follow their true passions.

Creative people tend to be intrinsically motivated — meaning that they’re motivated to act from some internal desire, rather than a desire for external reward or recognition. Psychologists have shown that creative people are energized by challenging activities, a sign of intrinsic motivation, and the research suggests that simply thinking of intrinsic reasons to perform an activity may be enough to boost creativity.

“Eminent creators choose and become passionately involved in challenging, risky problems that provide a powerful sense of power from the ability to use their talents,” write M.A. Collins and T.M. Amabile in The Handbook of Creativity.

13. They get out of their own heads.

Kaufman argues that another purpose of daydreaming is to help us to get out of our own limited perspective and explore other ways of thinking, which can be an important asset to creative work.

“Daydreaming has evolved to allow us to let go of the present,” says Kaufman. “The same brain network associated with daydreaming is the brain network associated with theory of mind — I like calling it the ‘imagination brain network’ — it allows you to imagine your future self, but it also allows you to imagine what someone else is thinking.”

Research has also suggested that inducing “psychological distance” — that is, taking another person’s perspective or thinking about a question as if it was unreal or unfamiliar — can boost creative thinking.

14. They lose track of the time.

Creative types may find that when they’re writing, dancing, painting or expressing themselves in another way, they get “in the zone,” or what’s known as a flow state, which can help them to create at their highest level. Flow is a mental state when an individual transcends conscious thought to reach a heightened state of effortless concentration and calmness. When someone is in this state, they’re practically immune to any internal or external pressures and distractions that could hinder their performance.

You get into the flow state when you’re performing an activity you enjoy that you’re good at, but that also challenges you — as any good creative project does.

“[Creative people] have found the thing they love, but they’ve also built up the skill in it to be able to get into the flow state,” says Kaufman. “The flow state requires a match between your skill set and the task or activity you’re engaging in.”

15. They surround themselves with beauty.

Creatives tend to have excellent taste, and as a result, they enjoy being surrounded by beauty.

A study recently published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts showed that musicians — including orchestra musicians, music teachers, and soloists — exhibit a high sensitivity and responsiveness to artistic beauty.

16. They connect the dots.

If there’s one thing that distinguishes highly creative people from others, it’s the ability to see possibilities where other don’t — or, in other words, vision. Many great artists and writers have said that creativity is simply the ability to connect the dots that others might never think to connect.

In the words of Steve Jobs:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

17. They constantly shake things up.

Diversity of experience, more than anything else, is critical to creativity, says Kaufman. Creatives like to shake things up, experience new things, and avoid anything that makes life more monotonous or mundane.

“Creative people have more diversity of experiences, and habit is the killer of diversity of experience,” says Kaufman.

18. They make time for mindfulness.

Creative types understand the value of a clear and focused mind — because their work depends on it. Many artists, entrepreneurs, writers and other creative workers, such as David Lynch, have turned to meditation as a tool for tapping into their most creative state of mind.

And science backs up the idea that mindfulness really can boost your brain power in a number of ways. A 2012 Dutch study suggested that certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking. And mindfulness practices have been linked with improved memory and focus, better emotional well-being, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved mental clarity — all of which can lead to better creative thought.

Article by: Carolyn Gregoire  Source: www.HuffingtonPost.com