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20 Basic Cooking Hacks Everyone Should Know

20 Basic Cooking Hacks Everyone Should Know

Wise old women will tell you that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but any experienced man will also tell you that one of the best ways to impress a lady is to cook for her. We all need some kitchen skills, from young students living alone to moms and dads feeding their family. If scientists are to be believed, our food choices are even linked to our character. While some may be naturally gifted, or have had the pleasure of growing up with some talented cooks who were happy to give them a few pointers along the way, there are a lot of people out there who shy away from the kitchen because they find cooking complicated, and even a little bit confusing.

Fortunately, there are tons of great little tricks that can help anyone greatly improve their cooking game, and perhaps get a few people interested in further developing their skills. Here is a run-down of some of the most useful cooking hacks that can benefit everyone, regardless of skill level.

1. Put ice cream in a bag before putting it in the freezer

Bagging ice cream

    Ice cream can get rock hard in the freezer and it takes ages to thaw out just enough that you can eat it. A simple trick to keep it just the right consistency is to put the container in a plastic zip lock bag before throwing it in the freezer.

    2. Freeze a banana to use as base for a healthy ice cream

    Frozen banana ice cream

      When frozen and then mashed up, bananas create a perfect creamy ice cream base that you can be mixed with other fruit and various toppings to create a super-healthy home-made ice cream.

      3. Mix pancake batter in a plastic bag to save time and make less of a mess

      Pancace batter in plastic bag

        A zip lock bag or a pastry bag can be used to mix up pancake batter. Make sure to make a small cut in a corner of the plastic bag if you don’t have a pastry bag. You have to clean up less afterwards, and you can make some very creative shapes.

        4. Cut softer foods using a dental floss

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        Cutting with dental floss

          Things can get messy if you are cutting a particularly large cake and only have a small knife, but even things like cheese and Swiss rolls can be difficult to cut precisely. You can use dental floss to make quick and precise cuts and avoid the trouble.

          5. Cook up enough food for several days on Sunday and store it in the fridge

          Prepping food in advance

            You can spend a couple of hours on a lazy Sunday and cook up enough frozen veggies, chicken, fish, steak, rice, baked potatoes or whatever else you like to eat, and store the food in plastic containers. Mix it up, and you will have quick meals ready to go for the next few days or the entire week.

            6. Use protein powder, almond milk, oat flour and frozen fruit for healthy snacks

            Protein pancakes

              People often view pancakes as a dirty pleasure, but you can make healthy and diet-friendly pancakes using protein powder, almond milk, oat flower, different fruit and other healthy ingredients.

              7. Freeze a fresh herb mixture in olive oil to add to your meals

              Freezing herbs in oil

                If you are the kind of person who likes to add fresh herbs to meals, you can stock up on herbs, chopped them up, put them in ice cube tray, cover them in olive oil and freeze them. Next time you are cooking something, just drop a cube in and have yourself a treat.

                8. Dry out herbs in the microwave

                Drying herbs

                  For a more permanent storage solution, you can buy a bunch of herbs at the flea market – make your own unique blend of herbs – and then dry them out in the microwave. Put them in for 20 second intervals, and keep turning them over until they are completely dry, at which point you can crush them up.

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                  9. Throw a slice of apple in with baked treats to keep them soft and moist

                  apple slices

                    Baked treats tend to get fairly dry and don’t taste so good after a while. A good way to combat this is to keep them in a plastic container with an apple slice, which will help them preserve moisture and stay yummy for much longer.

                    10. Let you eggs sit in the fridge for a few days if you want them to peel easily

                    Eggs with funny faces

                      Boiled eggs are sometimes notoriously difficult to peel, but that’s just fresh eggs. Week old eggs are perfectly fine to eat, but they are incredibly easy to peal, so make sure you buy eggs well in advance and let them sit in the fridge for a while before boiling them.

                      11. You can use a spoon to help you peel fresh eggs more quickly

                      Peeling an egg

                        In case you just have to eat some boiled eggs right now and you only have fresh ones, you can add a little salt in the water with them and then use a spoon to crack one ends slightly and start peeling the shell from the inside. It’s incredibly quick and simple.

                        12. Soak eggs in white vinegar for several minutes when making poached eggs

                        Soaking eggs in white vinegar

                          To make perfect poached eggs you need to keep the eggs in a consistent shape when boiling them in water. A simple, trick to ensure that the egg whites keep a consistent shape is to soak the eggs in white vinegar for several minutes before breaking them open.

                          13. Weave bacon strips into a square shape and bake them in the oven

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                          Bacon weave

                            Bacon is actually cooked much more evenly in the oven than in the frying pan, and to go a step further you can weave them into a square shape first. It’s a great shape for sandwiches, and you won’t have chunks falling out.

                            14. Grill your fish on top of lemon slices

                            Grill fish adn lemons

                              Fish will tend to stick and even break up when placed on the grill, but if you put it on top of lemon slices and grill it like that it will be much easier to prepare, and it will get that nice zesty flavor.

                              15. Slap some wet paper towels on bottles of soda or beer to cool them much faster

                              Cooling beer with paper towel

                                You have guests arriving any minute now, and your beverages are all lukewarm? Well, have no fear, just take a few wet paper towels and wrap them around the bottles before throwing them in the freezer. It will cool your drinks down incredibly fast.

                                16. Make the perfect hash browns using a waffle iron

                                Hashed browns

                                  Making hash browns can be a bit of a hassle, but a very simple trick is to just throw them on a waffle iron and slam it shut. That golden brown color you are going for will be nice and even, and you won’t have to do much work at all.

                                  17. Microwave oysters for 10-20 seconds to make them much easier to open

                                  Opening oysters

                                    Oysters can require quite a bit of brute force to open, and you don’t want to be pressing hard on something with a knife and risk having it slip and hurt you. The simple solution is to microwave them for 10-20 seconds, which loosens them up and allows you to open them using much less force.

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                                    18. Run some water over stale bread and throw it in the oven to make it fresh and crunchy

                                    Loaves of bread

                                      If all you’ve got is a baguette or a loaf of bread that is getting a bit stale, but you don’t have time to run to the store and get some more, just run it through some water and put it in the oven for 5-10 minutes. You can also wrap it in a damp towel and then pop it in the oven. It will be fresh and crunchy like you just baked it.

                                      19. Drip chocolate over a balloon to create edible dessert cups

                                      Chocolate bowls

                                        Melt some chocolate into a bowl and then dip an inflated balloon in it so that the chocolate sticks all around it in a semicircular shape. Once it has cooled down just pop the balloon and take it out. Voila! You now have chocolate bowls to serve your dessert in.

                                        20. Use two plates to slice cherry tomatoes in one smooth motion

                                        Plates and cherry tomatoes

                                          If you are making a salad and need to chop a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes in half, just trap them between two plates and slice through them with a knife. You can slice a dozen or more of them in one clean movement.

                                          Make sure to arm yourself with these great cooking hacks, as well as a little bit of patience, and you will soon become the master of your kitchen, cooking up decent meals and flaunting your new-found skill in front of others.

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                                          Ivan Dimitrijevic

                                          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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                                          Last Updated on October 14, 2020

                                          How to Be Confident: 51 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

                                          How to Be Confident: 51 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

                                          When you learn how to be confident, you can use it in your everyday life to tackle all of your goals and challenges. However, not many people realize that learning how to gain self-confidence is like building a muscle—it grows in response to the level of performance required of it.

                                          Here I will give you 51 proven ways to overcome a lack of self-confidence and achieve more.

                                          1. Learn Something New

                                          Sign up for that evening class and enjoy it. Alternatively, read a book (or take an online course) on a topic you’ve always wanted to learn more about.

                                          Learning new things stretches your abilities, keeps your mind active, and most definitely improves your confidence in your ability to do new things.

                                          2. Ask Your Partner or a Friend What You Can Do For Them

                                          This can be something as easy as helping them with a chore they don’t like or have little time for. Through helping them, you’ll find that you feel better about yourself.

                                          3. Hit the Gym

                                          The physiological effects of going to the gym will leave you feeling great.

                                          Countless studies have shown that regular workouts at the gym can boost not only your sense of well-being, but can increase your self-esteem, too[1].

                                          4. Go to a Networking Event

                                          Rather than being nervous about your own stuff, focus on how to help others. Instead of going along with the aim of trying to sell yourself to others, why not change your approach and simply go along to see how you can help the people you meet?

                                          By doing this, you’ll come across as calm, confident, and someone that people will want to turn to again and again.

                                          5. Get Clear on the Things That Matter to You

                                          If these things are not in your life, you’ll need to bring them in.

                                          For example, if your daily work routine is currently as dull as dishwater—but you’d like it to be fun—then do something about it. Turn data entry into personal speed contests, paper filing into “screen-free” time, and interactions with your colleagues into enjoyable conversations.

                                          6. Remove Negativity From Your Life

                                          Write a list of the things you’re tolerating and putting up with in your life, then write down how you can remove, minimize, or diminish each one.

                                          I personally like to do this with pen and paper as it feels just a little more real and definite than on screen. It’s also a good idea to put the priority items at the top of your list, so you can begin resolving these first.

                                          7. Celebrate Your Big and Small Wins

                                          Look at the big or small goals you’ve completed, and give yourself credit for your part in it.

                                          Recognizing your achievements is not egotistical, it’s healthy.

                                          8. Converse With New People

                                          Go and have a conversation with someone you don’t know. By doing this, you may be pleasantly surprised by what—or who—you’ll discover.

                                          You can also extend this trait by breaking outside of your normal social situations at your workplace. This will do wonders when learning how to be confident.

                                          9. Do Something You Would Normally Say No to

                                          Next time you talk yourself out of doing something (a party invite, a challenging project, etc.), go and do it anyway. This is a great way to boost personal development.

                                          10. Do One Thing Each Day That Makes You Smile

                                          This could be something as simple as sending a thank you email to a colleague that has been helpful to you, or leaving a surprise present for your partner that they’ll discover when they wake up.

                                          Life shouldn’t be drudgery, and we all need to make the effort to keep it light, loving, and fun.

                                          11. Give Yourself Good Advice

                                          Look for the patterns of thought that take you to a place where you start second-guessing or overthinking.

                                          Now imagine that your best friend went through exactly the same thought process and ended up holding themselves back—what would you want to say to them?

                                          This is known as Soloman’s Paradox—we’re often quite good at solving others’ problems but not our own. Challenge this and take your own good advice next time[2].

                                          12. Ask Someone on a Date

                                          If you’re single and have met someone that you’re definitely attracted to—go ahead and ask them out.

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                                          Even if they turn you down, it will help you learn how to be confident through the fact that you were decisive and made an effort. What’s the best thing that could happen? They might just say yes!

                                          13. Write Down 20 Things That Make You Feel Good

                                          Think of this as a gratitude list. Typical things you might include are: your partner, your kids, your parents, your pets, etc.

                                          I recommend writing this list at least once a month. And most importantly—make sure you’re giving the 20 things plenty of room in your life.

                                          14. Stop Playing Different Roles

                                          Stop playing different roles and squeezing yourself into boxes based on what you think people expect of you.

                                          Be your authentic self, the one who knows what to do and loves what they do. It’s easy to find this part of yourself as it’s inherent in your hobbies and your close friendships.

                                          If you can bring this authenticity into your work life, you’ll be surprised at how positively others will react to you.

                                          15. Cultivate a Positive Mindset

                                          Learn to catch yourself every time you tell yourself that you can’t have, won’t get, or aren’t good enough to get what you want[3].

                                          Talk yourself up when learning how to be confident.

                                            Instead, tell yourself that you can have, will get, and are good enough to get what you want. Mindset is everything. Make sure yours is positive and dynamic.

                                            16. Take Yourself off Auto-Pilot

                                            Make deliberate decisions on what really matters to you.

                                            For instance, if you normally work 9 to 5 but find yourself spending hours getting to and from work, why not negotiate with your boss to mix your hours up a bit?

                                            You might also suggest a day or two working from home. Sell this to your boss by reminding them that the time and stress lost to commuting can be neatly transferred to productive work hours.

                                            17. Listen Carefully to What You Tell Yourself

                                            Next time you come up against a risk or a challenge, listen to what you tell yourself, and look for a way to improve your inner dialogue.

                                            If you normally find that your inner dialogue is negative, then break out of this by asking yourself questions such as:

                                            • What would make this easier?
                                            • Is there a different way of doing this?
                                            • Could research help?

                                            18. Laugh at Yourself

                                            Scared of looking silly? It’s no biggie, so don’t let it stop you.

                                            Whenever we try something new, there’s a fair chance that we’ll make fools of ourselves. But you’d be a bigger fool to let that stop you. Instead, laugh at your baby steps and watch your confidence soar as you begin to master your chosen activity.

                                            19. Listen to Your Doubts

                                            Sometimes your doubts are there to let you know what you need to prepare for, so you can use them to your benefit as you move forwards. Other times, they are just doubts.

                                            The trick is to quickly determine if your doubts have validity. If they do, use them to shape your decisions.

                                            To illustrate this, imagine that you’ve had an enticing job offer, but you doubt whether you’re capable of doing the job. Spend a little time analyzing your doubts to see whether they reflect reality, or whether they are just negative thoughts that are trying to hold you back.

                                            20. Recall a Time When You Did a Great Job

                                            Think of a time when it felt like a whole bank of switches in your head flicked to the on position, and you were firing on all cylinders. What were you doing, and what’s the reason it felt so great? Can you emulate that passion and drive that you had?

                                            21. Tear up Your Rule Book

                                            You may not know it, but you’ve almost certainly got a whole bunch of outdated rules that determine what you do and don’t do. These rules limit your thinking and your behavior.

                                            It’s time to change them. Tear up this subconscious rule book and toss it in the fire. Once you’ve done this, you’ll immediately notice how free you feel to make challenging and exciting decisions.

                                            22. Ask Yourself What You Have Gained When You Lose

                                            Do you get annoyed with yourself because you didn’t make the most of something or stepped back from an opportunity?

                                            Firstly, don’t beat yourself up because that’s just going to make you feel worse. Instead, be brutally honest and ask yourself what you gained from the situation and what you lost out on.

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                                            Based on this win/lose balance, what’s a different choice you can make next time?

                                            23. Don’t Let People Put You Down

                                            If there’s someone in your life who puts you down or makes you feel small, you owe it to yourself to let them know that you expect something different from now on. 

                                            Trust me, once you’ve told them, they’ll change, and you will, too. Inevitably, you’ll boost both your confidence and happiness by taking control of your life in this way.

                                            Learn how to get out of toxic relationships in this article.

                                            24. Reveal a Little Bit of the Real You

                                            Relationships can be difficult. They can also lose their zest and become stale. If this happens in your relationship, then it’s time to add some magic to the mix.

                                            Try revealing something interesting about yourself or your past that your partner doesn’t currently know when learning how to be confident. Perhaps you never mentioned to them that you used to play in a rock band—and you still have the recordings to prove it!

                                            By adding new things to your relationship, you’ll deepen the bond and keep the spark alive.

                                            25. Be Your Own Hero

                                            Recognize that you’re more than a match for any situation you might find yourself in—no matter how tough the going gets.

                                            We all love movies like Die Hard where ordinary people are driven to super-ordinary feats. But here’s the rub: you can be your own action hero.

                                            Whatever the situation, meet it head on and overcome it. Keep in mind the classic phrase: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

                                            26. Don’t Give in to the Instant Pay-off

                                            If I was to offer you $100 now for a day’s work tomorrow or $110 for the same work, but I won’t pay you for a week, which would you choose? Well, I can’t read your mind, but I do know that studies using a similar question to this have found that most people choose the instant, smaller payment over the latter, bigger payment. It seems that we’re hardwired for instant gratification.

                                            However, if you want to be a success in life, always look at the bigger picture. In the example above, if you could have only waited seven more days, you would have been $10 richer!

                                            27. Instead of Yelling “I Deserve Better,” Say “I Can Be Better”

                                            Too often I hear people complaining about their personal circumstances but refusing to do anything about it. Don’t be like them.

                                            If things aren’t going your way, find solutions and implement them. Your boldness and decisiveness will boost your confidence and help you rapidly climb the ladder of success.

                                            28. Admit You’re Wrong

                                            It may not be easy, but you should always be prepared to hold your hands up and change your mind if things are going south. Not every idea you have will be a winning one. The trick is to know when things are clearly not working out.

                                            You can either attempt to get them back on track or kill them off completely (sometimes that’s the best way).

                                            29. Trust Your Instincts

                                            We all have our gut feelings and intuitions, but many people choose to ignore them and rely only on facts, facts, and more facts! While this may work for many scenarios, there will be other times when you’ll need to rely on your instincts.

                                            30. Imagine Your Confident Future Self

                                            Imagine you’re visited by a successful, confident, attractive, and vibrant version of you from the future, a version of you who’s everything you hope to be. What do they want to tell you?

                                            They might praise your efforts, but they may also criticize your lack of planning and weak goals.

                                            Luckily, if you listen closely to what they tell you, you’ll be able to rapidly shift gears in your life and become the you of the future!

                                            31. Ask for Help

                                            This is a common issue. We take on way too many responsibilities and end up either burning ourselves out or just doing a bad job!

                                            The secret is to put the vast majority of your energy and efforts into what you do well. Give the stuff you don’t do well to others who have a gift for it. Sometimes the most confident and effective thing to do is ask for help.

                                            32. Be Around People Who Make You Feel Like You

                                            Do this by spending more time with the people who support and encourage you and less time with those who undermine you.

                                            At work, don’t be ruined by negative, petty people. Instead, make sure you surround yourself with colleagues who make you laugh and feel good about yourself.

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                                            33. Participate in the World Around You

                                            Ask yourself this question: “What can I participate in that’s important to me?”

                                            Typically, this could be your church, a sports club, or even just a weekly get together with your best friend.

                                            34. Develop Skills to Work on Things That Matter to You

                                            What can you practice that would radically improve your chances of winning?

                                            If you want to climb the corporate ladder, for example, then develop the skills needed to do this. These might include: effective project management skills, powerful presentation abilities, and superb goal setting skills.

                                            Of course, don’t forget that emulating those who have already achieved your goal is one of the quickest and most reliable ways for you to achieve your aims, too.

                                            35. Act Until You Make It

                                            The body is a mirror for the mind, so shifting your body language into a confident state can have surprising results.

                                            This is all about acting. If you want to come across as tough, act tough. If you want to come across as successful, act successful. And if you want to come across as confident, act confident.

                                            Try doing these things, and you’ll be amazed by the results.

                                            36. Push Through When You Want to Give up

                                            Don’t get disheartened or demotivated when you get to 90% with something you’re working on. Push through, and you’ll see that the last 10% is where the magic happens.

                                            37. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

                                            Keep comparing yourself to others? Stop it. If you want to learn how to be confident, don’t try to validate yourself through comparison—you’re just peachy as you are.

                                            Social media often makes this difficult. Try stepping away from your Facebook page for a few days and reconnect with the great things in your own life.

                                            You can get started with this guide.

                                            38. Speak up When You Can Make a Difference

                                            Speak up if there’s something you think could be improved or if you have an idea you think has legs.

                                            Have you noticed that quiet people at work rarely get the promotions? It’s not that they are incapable or lacking talent, but their abilities are usually overlooked as they don’t know how to engage with others or how to sell themselves.

                                            Step out of your comfort zone and be sure that you’re an active player. Speak up in meetings by suggesting ideas and offering constructive criticism.

                                            39. Stop Struggling and Start Accepting

                                            If there’s something you’ve been struggling to understand for a while, stop trying to understand it. Accept it just as it is, fully and wholly.

                                            Life offers endless mysteries. If you try to resolve them all you’ll drive yourself insane. Instead, let some mysteries remain, and keep your mind focused on your goals and dreams.

                                            40. It’s Okay to Be Shy

                                            There’s nothing wrong with being shy, and it doesn’t mean you’re not a confident person.

                                            If you suffer from shyness, you might think it’s a major weakness of yours. However, introverted people have the edge in many ways, such as: they’re first-rate listeners, they have excellent observational skills, and they’re easier to trust[4].

                                            41. Clean up Your Environment

                                            Your environment directly impacts your self-perception. So, if you’re surrounded by clutter, paperwork, and rubbish, put a morning aside to clean up your stuff and get organized.

                                            42. Write a List of Things You Would Love to Do

                                            Write yourself a list of the amazing things you’d love to do in your life, and make a start by simply looking into the first one or two things that leap out at you. This will help you get started as you learn how to be confident

                                            Even if you don’t currently have the means to live your dreams, you can, at the very least, make a start. The best way to do this is to write out the things you’d love to do. These may include cool stuff, such as travelling the world, learning a new language, or climbing a mountain.

                                            Once you’ve added the items to your list, don’t stop there. Begin researching and preparing ways to turn your dreams into realities.

                                            43. Make Your Self-Worth Independent From Others’ Validation

                                            Don’t make your happiness or self-worth dependent on being in a relationship or being validated by someone else.

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                                            While it’s difficult to admit it, we often find ourselves rating our self-esteem by the value other people put on us.

                                            For instance, you may have a super-positive boss who is always encouraging and supportive. They make you feel upbeat and confident at all times.

                                            However, imagine if they left and your new boss was the complete opposite. They constantly look for faults in your work and regularly criticize you. Would you still feel confident in those circumstances?

                                            If you’ve answered no, then you need to reappraise your self-worth, as it shouldn’t be dependent on the validation of others.

                                            44. Use Your Strengths

                                            We all have our weaknesses, but they only undermine your confidence if you let them.

                                            For instance, are you aware that Virgin’s founder Richard Branson suffers from dyslexia? He never let this hold him back or destroy his confidence. Today, he is one of the world’s most successful men, with a net worth of approximately $5 billion[5].

                                            45. Complete a To-Do List

                                            The longer you leave that big thing on your to-do list, the more it’ll drain you, and the bigger it’ll seem. Get it done and free yourself up.

                                            If you have a big goal, break it down into smaller tasks. For instance, instead of trying to write a whole chapter of your book in one go, how about just writing the opening paragraph?

                                            46. Treat Your Body Well

                                            When learning how to be confident, our body image does matter, because if you have a bad relationship with your body, you won’t feel confident in yourself.

                                            What’s one of the first things most of us do when we get up in the morning? We look in the mirror. If we don’t like what we see there, then our day starts off with negative self-talk. If, on the other hand, we look in the mirror and feel proud of our appearance, then we start the day off in an upbeat, positive way.

                                            If you’re unhappy with your body and looks, do something to improve them. Exercise, diet, and styling are common ways of improving your body image—and your confidence.

                                            47. Learn to Say No

                                            Don’t say yes to taking on a task simply because you don’t want to rock the boat. You can politely decline requests you can’t meet without needing to create excuses.

                                            While saying yes to everything that comes your way might feel like you’re being helpful and in demand, in the long run, you’ll burn yourself out.

                                            48. Learn From Confident People

                                            Look at the people you respect who seem confident. Don’t copy them, but identify what it is they do differently that conveys confidence and what you can learn from it.

                                            People-watching is not only fun, but it can be informative, too. Look closely at successful people you know, or those being interviewed on TV, and over time you’ll begin to notice common traits, beliefs, and behaviors that they exhibit.

                                            49. Follow Through on Your Plans

                                            Most people find it easy to write plans. The hard part, of course, is seeing them through. To stand out from the crowd, make sure that you know exactly how to complete your plans.

                                            If you need to, write down a step-by-step guide and begin following it. Not only will this drive you towards the completion of your plans—but experiencing the progress will also give you a continuous boost to your self-esteem.

                                            50. Shift Your Focus When You Doubt Yourself

                                            When you feel yourself focusing inwards and becoming paralyzed with doubt or fear, switch to focusing outwards at what you can engage and interact with.

                                            I remember one of my writing tutors telling me that when the words stop flowing, it’s time to take a break— preferably a walk in the park. It’s sound advice as it’s very easy to get caught up with our thoughts and emotions and be unable to make progress.

                                            51. Never Beat Yourself up for Failing

                                            Life is guaranteed to not always be a barrel of laughs. Instead, it’s much more like a roller coaster. There will be ups and downs, so ride them out.

                                            The art of living is to know how to handle whatever comes you way. The best way to achieve this is by developing an iron core that is unhindered by the topsy-turvy outside world.

                                            Final Thoughts

                                            Here I’ve given you 51 different ways to start building self-confidence Take action on the ways that you’re drawn to.

                                            It’s not enough to read about them. For them to work, you must adopt them into your daily life. Do this, and you’ll start to feel your confidence soar.

                                            More on How to Be Confident

                                            Featured photo credit: Matheus Ferrero via unsplash.com

                                            Reference

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