3 things you can do in your spare time to boost your confidence.

TED-Ed brings us 3 science-backed tips to become a more confident person.

"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it," wrote J.M Barrie.

That line — appearing in the 1902 "Peter Pan" precursor "The Little White Bird" — is a perfect look at the power of confidence. "The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply that they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings," Barrie continued.

And while the latter part of his quote isn't exactly scientifically sound, it's not without merit.


For more than a century, we've remained fascinated with the story of Pan — the boy who never grew up, who lived without doubt. His is a story of pure, unfettered confidence. In a way, we all aspire to live a life so sure of ourselves.

A program from the first production of Barrie's "Peter Pan," staged February 1905 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

There are some major benefits to having confidence, and there are proven methods to boost it.

There's a saying that "confidence breeds success." But does it?

Science actually backs this up to a reasonable extent. Confidence can play a big role in how much success you experience in the workplace, in relationships, and even in your health. So let's take a look at how to get there.

If we can learn to fail, we can learn to succeed.

And no, I'm not about to push some "power of positive thinking" type tips nor am I going to tell you to run out and pick up a copy of "The Secret." Instead, let's take a look at some science-backed suggestions to becoming a more confident version of yourself, based off of a video from the people over at TED-Ed.

GIF via TED-Ed.

1. Give yourself a quick confidence boost by striking a "power pose."

Did you know you that something as simple as striking a powerful, confident pose can trick your brain into actually feeling more confident? Well, it can. Really.

Try this: Next time you're feeling nervous about something — like a job interview, for example — try taking a couple minutes right before and adopting this pose: Stand straight up, push your shoulders back and chest out, and place your hands on your hips.

Now THAT'S a power pose. Photo by iStock.

Studies have shown that this pose can lead to a short-term increase in confidence and reduction in stress. How does this work?

“Our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves. Our bodies change our minds," said Harvard Business School social psychologist Amy Cuddy in a 2012 TEDGlobal talk.

2. Convince yourself you have the ability to improve.

Now, this sounds like one of those "easier said than done" type suggestions, but it's actually not. Think about the things in your life you can't change and those you can. You can't change your eye color or your height, for example, but you can change your physical strength through training.

Photo by iStock.

Ask yourself if your goal is something you have the power to improve upon (even if improving might be really difficult). Is your goal to become a better public speaker? That's something you can improve upon. A better interviewer? That's a skill that can be honed. Have more upper body strength? With training, that's possible, too.

What you'll find is that there are very few things in life truly set in stone. We all have our own limitations, but as long as we can remind ourselves that we're not stuck, we have incentive to stay motivated.

3. Fail. Get up. Try again. Repeat.

You're going to fail, and that's a given. What matters much more than whether or not you fail is how you react to that setback. Do you get up? Do you regroup, come up with a new strategy, and try again? Or do you just throw in the towel?

Take a look at Michael Jordan, for example. He's a six-time NBA Finals champion, five-time Most Valuable Player, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and 2009 inductee into the basketball hall of fame. To many, he's considered the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball.

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest player of all time but also a huge failure. Photo by Tim DeFrisco/Allsport/Getty Images.

But he's also someone who's experienced a lot of failure. Check out this voiceover from a 1997 Nike ad.

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." — Michael Jordan

By the time Jordan's career finally came to an end in 2003, his missed shots totaled more than 12,000. Few of us will ever be as good at anything as Michael Jordan was at basketball. We will all fail. But do we get up? Do we try again? That's up to us.

If we can learn to fail, we can learn to succeed.

TED-Ed put together a great video with variations on these three tips you can check out below.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

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Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

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“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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