The Handbook

Boost Your Confidence

Self-confidence gives you the power to conquer all that you tackle. To excel at your job and achieve your personal goals. Of course, there are those people who are just naturally confident—those tall, handsome guys who probably take their self-assuredness for granted. But confidence is more of a practice than a personality trait. So it can be learned and mastered, just like any other skill. Here are four proven techniques for boosting your self confidence. Not to fake it, or appear less nervous, but to actually harness it within yourself. And your life will be better because of it.

The Superhero Stance

This sounds a bit hokey (and looks a little silly) but it works. Don't take our word for it. Trust the researchers at Harvard. Find a private place like a bathroom stall and stand up straight, pulling your shoulders back and lifting your chin up. It's the way Superman or Batman might stand on the top of a building. And taking on this powerful pose keeps you from shrinking into a drawn-in position, which looks weak and limits your breathing. Plus, holding this stance for 60 seconds releases testosterone, so you actually get a surge of chemical strength.

Visualize Success

Ask any elite athlete about their pre-game preparations and you'll inevitably hear something about visualization. Research has revealed that mental practices, like picturing yourself achieving your goal, are nearly as effective as actual physical practice. And that imagining a positive outcome preps your brain for success. The more detailed your visualizations, the better prepared (and thus, more confident) you'll be.

This is by far the easiest way to instantly increase your confidence. By flashing a smile, you will appear composed and self-assured, says Christine Clapp, who teaches public speaking at George Washington University. And it's not just for appearances. Scientists have confirmed that grinning will reduce the intensity of the body's stress response. And a calmer you is a more confident you.

Spritz on Your Favorite Scent

Sure, you feel better about yourself when you smell good. But this is a little deeper than that. A 2009 study found that not only can a fragrance inspire confidence in men, but the more you like the particular fragrance, the more confident you will feel.

The Power of "No"

The more difficulty you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress and insecurity, which erodes confidence. Get comfortable saying it and avoid such noncommittal phrases as "I don't think I can." Then enjoy the surge of self-esteem.