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4 Secret Ingredients for a Happy and Productive Life

4 Secret Ingredients for a Happy and Productive Life

Meet Amy.

Amy is your Amygdala.

Your Amygdala is part of your ancient reptilian brain, which back in the days of cave men and dinosaurs, was a great tool to help keep you safe.

You see Amy is responsible for sending you into fight or flight or freeze mode when presented with the perceived threat of a larger than life predator that might attack you (or even eat you!).

The only problem is that in today’s modern world, Amy doesn’t realize the difference between say being eaten by an ancient saber tooth tiger versus your boss coming at you with steam coming out of his ears. Regardless, she is ready to protect and defend you to the death.

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She is very well-trained at keeping a watchful eye, intended to keep you safe inside of your comfort zone and maintaining the status quo. The challenge lies in her overactive need to protect you from a vast array of perceived threats, a desire which leaves your body in a constant state of stress, anxiety, and fear.

For all you science geeks out there…

When Amy gets up in arms, your brain releases cortisol and adrenaline, causing your body to want to run from said perceived threat. Your blood pressure rises and you’re ready for a fight.

When this happens, your brain also then shuts off less “vital” systems that are using up precious energy reserves such as your immune system and digestive system. They go into sleep mode, if you will. If the perceived threats are constant though, your “dis-ease” can build up and quickly or unexpectedly turn into disease since your immune system is running on reserve battery mode.

It’s no wonder we tend to gain weight and get sick when we’re stressed out!

So how do you overcome Amy’s incessant need to protect you?

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You have to learn how to manage her.

Here are 4 secret ingredients to help you manage your Amy to live a more happy and productive life.

Simply by hacking into your brain’s natural supply of “happy chemicals” you can create greater peace of mind, joy and a positive frame of mind which will help you tame your Amy.

The four ingredients?

Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins (DOSE)

1. Dopamine: Helps us set goals and get things done. It incentivizes us to make progress and is generated at the anticipation of achieving or striving for something.

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Hack: By creating a series of mini goals that you can easily achieve (and then celebrate achieving) you will help release more dopamine into your system and elevate your happiness factor.

2. Oxytocin: Also known as the cuddle hormone, it helps create strong bonds, intimacy, trust, and healthy relationships. It also lowers your cortisol levels, increases your interest in your work, and raises your cognitive abilities for problem solving and creative thinking, while boosting your immune systems, lowering your blood pressure, and increasing your libido. It can be generated through social bonding, eye contact, and attentiveness.

Hack: Go for the hug instead of the handshake! Doctors recommend giving the gift of a hug at least eight times a day. Giving small gifts to a friend or loved one will also do the trick.

3. Serotonin: Boosts your feeling of confidence, making you feel good and elevating your mood. It is generated when you’re feeling significant, important, or valued.

Hack: Sit in the sun for a brief 20 minutes while practicing gratitude for the things in your life that have value and importance to you. Your skin will absorb UV rays which produce vitamin D and releases serotonin.

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4. Endorphins: Released in response to stress or pain to help reduce depression and anxiety. It acts as a sedative and anesthetic as your muscles work through hard labor.

Hack: Eat dark chocolate while laughing. Along with the scents of vanilla and lavender, dark chocolate and laughter are known to boost the release of endorphins into your system. Regular exercise is also another great way to get those endorphins flowing.

The next time you’re feeling stressed out, anxious, or depressed, try a couple of these brain hacks to help reduce your stress, boost your mood, and get you focused and back on track!

You’ll feel better and leave others thinking… “I’ll have whatever she’s having!”

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Last Updated on January 16, 2020

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

The way you feel about yourself greatly influences how you live and interact with others. If you are confident about yourself, you tend to see yourself positively and actually enjoy spending time with and around people. You don’t feel self-conscious or awkward around others, and that allows you to live your fullest and happiest life.

However, if you’re drowning in a sea of self-doubt, hesitancy and shyness, you often withdraw and isolate yourself from others and avoid interacting and connecting with people. That anxiety you feel in the pit of your stomach when you are around people is holding you back greatly and it is not good for your emotional health and overall well-being. You need to do something about it if you are low in self-confidence or have friends or family members who are not confident.

“Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone, it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone” – Anonymous

Here are simple, practical tips to boost your confidence right now and make you feel and act your best.

1. Stop labeling yourself as awkward, timid or shy.

When you label yourself as awkward, timid or shy, you sub-consciously tell your mind to act accordingly and psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations. Instead of labeling and entertaining negative self-talk, visualize and affirm yourself as confident and strong. Close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself in different situation as you would like to be.

Be your own cheerleader. Experts believe that positive affirmation and good mental practices like picturing yourself winning or achieving a goal can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prepare your brain for success.[1] As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” Picture yourself as confident and soon enough you will begin to manifest behavior that gives evidence to this new ‘fact.’

2. Recognize that the world is not focused on you (unless, of course, you are Kanye West).

That means you don’t have to be excessively sensitive about who you are or what you are doing (or not doing). You are not on the center stage; there is no need for preoccupation with self and perfectionism. As rap music star Rocko sings, “You just do you and I will do me, aight?”

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Forget about trying to please everyone or being perfect. Trying to be perfect and being a people-pleaser puts too much pressure on you and creates unnecessary anxiety. Besides, people are too preoccupied with their own issues to pay much attention to your every move unless, of course, you are a mega famous, super celebrity like Beyonce or Kanye West.

3. Focus on other people as opposed to yourself.

If you are low on confidence, self-conscious, nervous and shy in social situations, focus your attention on other people and what they are saying or doing instead of focusing on your own awkwardness.

For example, think about what it is that is interesting about the person who’s the centre of the party or the guy or girl you are talking with. Prompt them to talk more about themselves and be genuinely curious and interested in what they say. You will instantly come across as confident and warmhearted.

People generally want to talk about themselves, be heard and understood. They will love it when you’re eager and willing to listen to them and really hear what they have to say.

This habit of focusing more on what you love in others as opposed to what you dislike in yourself will not only help you become more assertive and comfortable in virtually all social situations, but also instantly make you feel great about yourself.

4. Know (and accept) yourself for who you are.

Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu, author of the internationally acclaimed book The Art of War, said, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” Even in the battle with lack of confidence, you will need to know yourself to win.

Knowing yourself starts with understanding that people are not all the same, neither are all social situation suitable for everyone. You might not be confident in large gatherings, but you could be bold and confident in one-on-one and small group interactions. We all have our own unique gifts and unique ways of expressing ourselves. Embrace yours!

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Introverts, for example, have a quiet confidence that is, unfortunately, often confused for shyness. They are naturally low key and prefer to spend time alone. However, this natural disposition affords them certain unique gifts, such as an ability to listen better than most people and notice things that others don’t.

Your uniqueness is where your strength and advantage lies. You won’t be comfortable and confident in all situations all the time. Albert Einstein said,

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

5. Crack a smile.

If there is one sure way to instantly boost your confidence, it’s cracking a smile. Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at The George Washington University, says that flashing those pretty, pearly white teeth will immediately make you appear both confident and composed. But, the effect of smiling is not just external. Studies show that smiling can also help nix feelings of stress and pave the way for a happier and more relaxed you.[2]

Not a bad return for something seemingly so trite, wouldn’t you agree?

6. Break a sweat—with exercise.

Working out is another great way to make yourself feel amazing and confident. Science has shown that exercising increases your endorphins, helps reduce stress, tones your muscles and makes you feel happy and confident.[3]

And hey, all you have to do is take a walk a few times a week and you’ll see the benefits. What seems to matter—as far as your confidence goes—is whether you break a sweat, not how strenuous your session is, which is pretty cool. Start working out now.

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7. Groom yourself.

This might seem mundane, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a shower and shave can have on your confidence and self-image. And when you spritz on a scent, the boost on confidence and self-esteem is incredible. As it turns out, your favorite fragrance does more than make you smell oh-so-nice.

A study found that a fragrance can inspire confidence in men. Interestingly, the study also found that the more a man likes the fragrance, the more confident he might feel. Another study found that 90% of women feel more confident while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free.

8. Dress nicely.

Another one that might seem trite, but it works. If you dress nicely, you’ll instantly feel good about yourself and give your confidence a real boost. That is largely because you’ll feel attractive, presentable and sometimes even successful in nice clothes.

While dressing nicely means something different for everyone, it does not necessarily mean wearing $500 designer outfits. It means wearing clothes that are clean, that you are comfortable in and that are nice-looking and presentable, including casual clothes.

9. Do activities you enjoy.

Whether it is reading a book, playing a musical instrument, riding your bicycle or going fishing, do what you really enjoy and what makes you truly happy often. It will boost your self-esteem, soothe your ego and allow you to identify with your gifts and talents. That will in turn bolster your self-belief and grow your confidence exponentially.

You might not become popular for doing what you love, but you might not even want to be popular at all. Being popular doesn’t make you happy; doing what you love does.

10. Prepare for the possibility of rejection / setback.

Late World No. 1 professional tennis player Arthur Ashe said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation.” You need to prepare for the possibility of rejection and setback.

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Why?

Everybody suffers rejection and setback at one point or another. You are not exempted. The question on your mind, therefore, should not be if you will be rejected, but how you will handle rejection when it comes.

Prepare yourself adequately in every situation to minimize the risk and effect of rejection and so that your confidence is not broken. For example, learn public speaking and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand if you have landed a public speaking engagement. That way, you are sure of yourself and confident you have what it takes to hack it. If you are rejected, don’t take it personally.

Rejection and setbacks happen to the best of us. Take it as a learning experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

11. Face uncomfortable situations square in the face.

Don’t run away from uncomfortable situations. Running away from people or situations because you feel scared, shy or timid only confirms and reinforces your shyness. Instead, face the situation that makes you uneasy square in the face. For example, go ahead and talk to that person you are afraid to approach, or go straight to the front of your yoga class! What’s the worst that can happen?

Prepare and be ready for any eventuality. The more you face your fears, the more you realize you are stronger than you thought and the more confident you get. This simple, yet admittedly courageous, act makes you unstoppable. You get comfortable being uncomfortable and begin to feel like you can take on the world. And that is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.

12. Sit up straight and walk tall—you are awesome!

Yes, sit up straight and believe you are awesome. Don’t slump in your chair or slouch your shoulders. Experts say the right stance can not only keep your self-esteem and mood lifted, but also lead to more confidence in your own thoughts.[4]

The way to sit is to open up your chest and keep your head level so that you look and feel poised and assured. And when you get up, stand tall and walk like you’re on a mission. People who sit up straight and walk tall are more attractive and instantly feel more confident. Try it now: you’ll feel fierce and confident just by sitting up straight and walking tall.

Featured photo credit: Freshh Connection via unsplash.com

Reference

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