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1. Groom yourself. This seems like such an obvious one, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a shower and a shave can make in your feelings of self-confidence and for your self-image. There have been days when I turned my mood around completely with this one little thing.

2. Dress nicely. A corollary of the first item above … if you dress nicely, you’ll feel good about yourself. You’ll feel successful and presentable and ready to tackle the world. Now, dressing nicely means something different for everyone … it doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a $500 outfit, but could mean casual clothes that are nice looking and presentable.

3. Photoshop your self-image. Our self-image means so much to us, more than we often realize. We have a mental picture of ourselves, and it determines how confident we are in ourselves. But this picture isn’t fixed and immutable. You can change it. Use your mental Photoshopping skills, and work on your self-image. If it’s not a very good one, change it. Figure out why you see yourself that way, and find a way to fix it.

4. Think positive. One of the things I learned when I started running, about two years ago, what how to replace negative thoughts (see next item) with positive ones. How I can actually change my thoughts, and by doing so make great things happened. With this tiny little skill, I was able to train for and run a marathon within a year. It sounds so trite, so Norman Vincent Peale, but my goodness this works. Seriously. Try it if you haven’t.

5. Kill negative thoughts. Goes hand-in-hand with the above item, but it’s so important that I made it a separate item. You have to learn to be aware of your self-talk, the thoughts you have about yourself and what you’re doing. When I was running, sometimes my mind would start to say, “This is too hard. I want to stop and go watch TV.” Well, I soon learned to recognize this negative self-talk, and soon I learned a trick that changed everything in my life: I would imagine that a negative thought was a bug, and I would vigilantly be on the lookout for these bugs. When I caught one, I would stomp on it (mentally of course) and squash it. Kill it dead. Then replace it with a positive one. (“C’mon, I can do this! Only one mile left!”)

Know yourself and you will win all battles. – Sun Tzu

6. Get to know yourself. When going into battle, the wisest general learns to know his enemy very, very well. You can’t defeat the enemy without knowing him. And when you’re trying to overcome a negative self-image and replace it with self-confidence, your enemy is yourself. Get to know yourself well. Start listening to your thoughts. Start writing a journal about yourself, and about the thoughts you have about yourself, and analyzing why you have such negative thoughts. And then think about the good things about yourself, the things you can do well, the things you like. Start thinking about your limitations, and whether they’re real limitations or just ones you’ve allowed to be placed there, artificially. Dig deep within yourself, and you’ll come out (eventually) with even greater self-confidence.

7. Act positive. More than just thinking positive, you have to put it into action. Action, actually, is the key to developing self-confidence. It’s one thing to learn to think positive, but when you start acting on it, you change yourself, one action at a time. You are what you do, and so if you change what you do, you change what you are. Act in a positive way, take action instead of telling yourself you can’t, be positive. Talk to people in a positive way, put energy into your actions. You’ll soon start to notice a difference.

8. Be kind and generous. Oh, so corny. If this is too corny for you, move on. But for the rest of you, know that being kind to others, and generous with yourself and your time and what you have, is a tremendous way to improve your self-image. You act in accordance with the Golden Rule, and you start to feel good about yourself, and to think that you are a good person. It does wonders for your self-confidence, believe me.

One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation. – Arthur Ashe

9. Get prepared. It’s hard to be confident in yourself if you don’t think you’ll do well at something. Beat that feeling by preparing yourself as much as possible. Think about taking an exam: if you haven’t studied, you won’t have much confidence in your abilities to do well on the exam. But if you studied your butt off, you’re prepared, and you’ll be much more confident. Now think of life as your exam, and prepare yourself.

10. Know your principles and live them. What are the principles upon which your life is built? If you don’t know, you will have trouble, because your life will feel directionless. For myself, I try to live the Golden Rule (and fail often). This is my key principle, and I try to live my life in accordance with it. I have others, but they are mostly in some way related to this rule (the major exception being to “Live my Passion”). Think about your principles … you might have them but perhaps you haven’t given them much thought. Now think about whether you actually live these principles, or if you just believe in them but don’t act on them.

11. Speak slowly. Such a simple thing, but it can have a big difference in how others perceive you. A person in authority, with authority, speaks slowly. It shows confidence. A person who feels that he isn’t worth listening to will speak quickly, because he doesn’t want to keep others waiting on something not worthy of listening to. Even if you don’t feel the confidence of someone who speaks slowly, try doing it a few times. It will make you feel more confident. Of course, don’t take it to an extreme, but just don’t sound rushed either.

12. Stand tall. I have horrible posture, so it will sound hypocritical for me to give this advice, but I know it works because I try it often. When I remind myself to stand tall and straight, I feel better about myself. I imagine that a rope is pulling the top of my head toward the sky, and the rest of my body straightens accordingly. As an aside, people who stand tall and confident are more attractive. That’s a good thing any day, in my book.

13. Increase competence. How do you feel more competent? By becoming more competent. And how do you do that? By studying and practicing. Just do small bits at a time. If you want to be a more competent writer, for example, don’t try to tackle the entire profession of writing all at once. Just begin to write more. Journal, blog, write short stories, do some freelance writing. The more you write, the better you’ll be. Set aside 30 minutes a day to write (for example), and the practice will increase your competence.

14. Set a small goal and achieve it. People often make the mistake of shooting for the moon, and then when they fail, they get discouraged. Instead, shoot for something much more achievable. Set a goal you knowyou can achieve, and then achieve it. You’ll feel good about that. Now set another small goal and achieve that. The more you achieve small goals, the better you’ll be at it, and the better you’ll feel. Soon you’ll be setting bigger (but still achievable) goals and achieving those too.

15. Change a small habit. Not a big one, like quitting smoking. Just a small one, like writing things down. Or waking up 10 minutes earlier. Or drinking a glass of water when you wake up. Something small that you know you can do. Do it for a month. When you’ve accomplished it, you’ll feel like a million bucks.

16. Focus on solutions. If you are a complainer, or focus on problems, change your focus now. Focusing on solutions instead of problems is one of the best things you can do for your confidence and your career. “I’m fat and lazy!” So how can you solve that? “But I can’t motivate myself!” So how can you solve that? “But I have no energy!” So what’s the solution?

17. Smile. Another trite one. But it works. I feel instantly better when I smile, and it helps me to be kinder to others as well. A little tiny thing that can have a chain reaction. Not a bad investment of your time and energy.

18. Volunteer. Related to the “be kind and generous” item above, but more specific. It’s the holiday season right now … can you find the time to volunteer for a good cause, to spread some holiday cheer, to make the lives of others better? It’ll be some of the best time you’ve ever spent, and an amazing side benefit is that you’ll feel better about yourself, instantly.

19. Be grateful. I’m a firm believer in gratitude, as anyone who’s been reading this blog for very long knows well. But I put it here because while being grateful for what you have in life, for what others have given you, is a very humbling activity … it can also be a very positive and rewarding activity that will improve your self-image. Read more.

20. Exercise. Gosh, I seem to put this one on almost every list. But if I left it off this list I would be doing you a disservice. Exercise has been one of my most empowering activities in the last couple years, and it has made me feel so much better about myself.
All you have to do is take a walk a few times a week, and you’ll see benefits. Start the habit.

21. Empower yourself with knowledge. Empowering yourself, in general, is one of the best strategies for building self-confidence. You can do that in many ways, but one of the surest ways to empower yourself is through knowledge. This is along the same vein as building competence and getting prepared … by becoming more knowledgeable, you’ll be more confident … and you become more knowledgeable by doing research and studying. The Internet is a great tool, of course, but so are the people around you, people who have done what you want, books, magazines, and educational institutions.

22. Do something you’ve been procrastinating on. What’s on your to-do list that’s been sitting there? Do it first thing in the morning, and get it out of the way. You’ll feel great about yourself.

23. Get active. Doing something is almost always better than not doing anything. Of course, doing something could lead to mistakes … but mistakes are a part of life. It’s how we learn. Without mistakes, we’d never get better. So don’t worry about those. Just do something. Get off your butt and get active — physically, or active by taking steps to accomplish something.

24. Work on small things. Trying to take on a huge project or task can be overwhelming and daunting and intimidating for anyone, even the best of us. Instead, learn to break off small chunks and work in bursts. Small little achievements make you feel good, and they add up to big achievements. Learn to work like this all the time, and soon you’ll be a self-confident maniac.

25. Clear your desk. This might seem like a small, simple thing (then again, for some of you it might not be so small). But it has always worked wonders for me. If my desk starts to get messy, and the world around me is in chaos, clearing off my desk is my way of getting a little piece of my life under control. It is the calm in the center of the storm around me. Here’s how.

Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable. – Walt Disney

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The Flag’s Beginnings

The Star-Spangled Banner’s history starts not with Francis Scott Key, but a year earlier with Maj. George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry. Knowing that his fort was a likely British target, Armistead told the commander of Baltimore defenses in July 1813 that he needed a flag—a big one. “We, sir, are ready at Fort McHenry to defend Baltimore against invading by the enemy…except that we have no suitable ensign to display over the Star Fort, and it is my desire to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.”

Armistead soon hired a 29-year-old widow and professional flagmaker, Mary Young Pickersgill of Baltimore, Maryland, to make a garrison flag measuring 30 by 42 feet with 15 stars and 15 stripes (each star and stripe representing a state). A large flag, but one not unusual for the time. Over the next six weeks, Mary, her daughter, three of Mary’s nieces, a 13-year-old indentured servant and possibly Mary’s mother Rebecca Young worked 10-hour days sewing the flag, using 300 yards of English wool bunting. They made the stars, each measuring two feet in diameter, from cotton—a luxury item at the time. Initially they worked from Mary’s home (now a private museum known as the Flag House), but as their work progressed they needed more room and had to move to Claggett’s brewery across the street. On August 19, 1813, the flag was delivered to Fort McHenry.

For making the Star-Spangled Banner, Mary was paid $405.90. She received another $168.54 for sewing a smaller (17 by 25 feet) storm flag, likely using the same design. It was this storm flag—not the garrison flag now known as the Star-Spangled Banner—which actually flew during the battle. The garrison flag, according to eyewitness accounts, wasn’t raised until the morning.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-story-behind-the-star-spangled-banner-149220970/

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Benefits of Taking Risks

“The first thing you get is LEARNING. When you ask new questions, when you try new things, when you take constructive risks, you can’t help but learn. The American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments, the better.”

The second benefit of constructive risk is SELF-ESTEEM.  Champion boxer Muhammad Ali spoke about that. He said, “The man who views the world at 50 the same way he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” In other words, it’s difficult to have self-esteem if you’re not growing.

The third benefit of constructive risk is CONTENTMENT. As you go through life, you will have millions of choices, and you will have millions of decisions to make. All of those choices and decisions involve some degree of risk, but some risks are not worth taking. Some risks are just plain foolish.

However, there are lots of choices you should make, and lots of risks you should take. If you don’t take those particular risks, you won’t be content. In those cases, it’s risk or regret. You either do it or wish you would have.”

Dr. Alan Zimmerman
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This past January a neuroscientist by the name of Stanislas Dehaene published a study on the extensive impact reading has on the brain. He performed his study with thirty-one Brazilian adults who’ve learned how to read from an early age, twenty-two adults who learned how to read at an adult age, and ten who’ve never learned how to read. His study was performed by using functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain function of adults while they responded to oral language, written language, and visual tasks. From this study a few conclusions have been made on how reading helps improve the function of the brain.

The occipital lobe is the area of the brain that processes visual information. Among the readers it was enhanced, showing that the literate readers could process visual information more accurately.  Reading is a form of visual exercise. The visual stimulation of reading exercises the occipital lobe.  This helps with the imagination, which will also help with creativity. The occipital lobe also has a big impact on making decisions.

The parietal lobe is the part of the brain that turns letters into words, and words into thoughts. Among the readers it was enhanced and stimulated. The parietal lobe is mainly recognized for its ability to increase writing skills. It also helps with reading comprehension. When anyone is reading, the parietal lobe becomes very active and works with the temporal lobe to store information.

This study tells us that reading impacts every aspect of a person’s life. Reading is a great exercise that helps people process information verbally and visually. Those that don’t read will struggle with processing verbal information. This explains why a slow reader will be slow in other academic areas. With the lack of verbal and visual comprehension skills, if slow readers don’t change they will have higher chances of divorce and job unemployment. Reading really improves every aspect of communication skills.

Mental stimulation will improve brain function. Reading is clearly the best way to increase mental stimulation. The best part about mental stimulation is that it will develop new neurons, no matter how old the individual is the brain can still create and develop new neurons. This is exciting news for everyone because it shows that we should really invest the rest of our lives into education. Most importantly, this shows the vital importance of teaching your child how to read if you’re a parent.

– See more at: http://athome.readinghorizons.com/blog/how-does-reading-improve-brain-function#sthash.S4huQNnT.dpuf

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This past January a neuroscientist by the name of Stanislas Dehaene published a study on the extensive impact reading has on the brain. He performed his study with thirty-one Brazilian adults who’ve learned how to read from an early age, twenty-two adults who learned how to read at an adult age, and ten who’ve never learned how to read. His study was performed by using functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain function of adults while they responded to oral language, written language, and visual tasks. From this study a few conclusions have been made on how reading helps improve the function of the brain.

The occipital lobe is the area of the brain that processes visual information. Among the readers it was enhanced, showing that the literate readers could process visual information more accurately.  Reading is a form of visual exercise. The visual stimulation of reading exercises the occipital lobe.  This helps with the imagination, which will also help with creativity. The occipital lobe also has a big impact on making decisions.

The parietal lobe is the part of the brain that turns letters into words, and words into thoughts. Among the readers it was enhanced and stimulated. The parietal lobe is mainly recognized for its ability to increase writing skills. It also helps with reading comprehension. When anyone is reading, the parietal lobe becomes very active and works with the temporal lobe to store information.

This study tells us that reading impacts every aspect of a person’s life. Reading is a great exercise that helps people process information verbally and visually. Those that don’t read will struggle with processing verbal information. This explains why a slow reader will be slow in other academic areas. With the lack of verbal and visual comprehension skills, if slow readers don’t change they will have higher chances of divorce and job unemployment. Reading really improves every aspect of communication skills.

Mental stimulation will improve brain function. Reading is clearly the best way to increase mental stimulation. The best part about mental stimulation is that it will develop new neurons, no matter how old the individual is the brain can still create and develop new neurons. This is exciting news for everyone because it shows that we should really invest the rest of our lives into education.

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Jonathan Swift’s poem “City Shower” (1710) described floods that occurred after heavy rains.  The floods left dead animals in the streets, and may have led locals to describe the weather as “raining cats and dogs.”

Again, we don’t know for certain. Etymologists—people who study the origins of words—have suggested a variety of mythological and literal explanations for why people say “it’s raining cats and dogs” to describe a heavy downpour.  Here are some of the popular theories:

  • Odin, the Norse god of storms, was often pictured with dogs and wolves, which were symbols of wind. Witches, who supposedly rode their brooms during storms, were often pictured with black cats, which became signs of heavy rain for sailors.  Therefore, “raining cats and dogs” may refer to a storm with wind (dogs) and heavy rain (cats).
  • “Cats and dogs” may come from the Greek expression cata doxa, which means “contrary to experience or belief.” If it is raining cats and dogs, it is raining unusually or unbelievably hard.
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A gifted inventor, Muir designed a water-powered mill to cut wind-felled trees, and he built a small cabin along Yosemite Creek, designing it so that a section of the stream flowed through a corner of the room so he could enjoy the sound of running water. He lived in the cabin for two years, and wrote about this period in his book First Summer in the Sierra (1911).

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A person’s name is the sweetest sound

Repetition

Repeat the person’s name as many times as possible in conversation. Use it when it is appropriate. Use it when you are saying goodbye to that person. Afterward, repeat it in your head as much as possible.

Association

Make associations of physical characteristics, names of landmarks, objects, buildings, companies, etc. Use color nouns and similar words to help you remember the name. We as humans remember things better in pictures.

After using this, remembering names becomes that much easier. Use names with everyone you interact with, practice this and make it a habit.

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Whopper April Fools’ Jokes

In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour. In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.

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Houdini assisted with the American war effort during WWI.

Although he was born in Hungary, Houdini was an American patriot and staunch supporter of U.S. involvement in World War I. He persuaded the Society of American Magicians to sign loyalty oaths to President Woodrow Wilson, and later canceled his touring season to devote himself to entertaining soldiers and raising money for the war effort. Houdini also drew on his arsenal of magician’s tricks to provide special instruction to American troops. In a series of classes held at New York’s Hippodrome, he counseled doughboys on how to escape sinking ships and extricate themselves from ropes, handcuffs and other restraints in the event of capture by the Germans.

He owned his own movie studio.

Houdini’s brief career as a silent film star began with 1919’s “The Master Mystery,” an adventure serial in which he played an undercover agent who uses his escape skills to thwart criminal plots. The series was a blockbuster hit—it’s now remembered as the first film to feature a robot—and the magician went on to star in two more features before launching his own studio called the “Houdini Picture Corporation.” He made two films for the company, “The Man From Beyond” and “Haldane of the Secret Service,” but neither fared particularly well at the box office, and critics poked fun at his stilted performances. Having lost a large chunk of his personal fortune, Houdini quit the movie business for good in 1923.

Houdini debunked psychics and the supernatural.

As the world’s greatest trickster and illusionist, Houdini had little patience for anyone who claimed to be in possession of supernatural powers. Beginning in the 1920s, he embarked on a second career as a professional skeptic and debunker of psychics, mind readers, mediums and other “Spiritualists” who purported to be able to contact the deceased. Houdini campaigned tirelessly, often visiting séances in disguise to expose their ringleader as frauds. He also offered a $10,000 reward to any psychic who could present “physical phenomena” that could not be explained rationally (no one ever collected), and in 1926 he testified before Congress in support of a bill to outlaw the practice of “pretending to tell fortunes for reward or compensation.”

The cause of his death is still debated.

Houdini died on Halloween 1926 at the age of 52, just days after struggling through a final performance in Detroit. The official cause of his death was peritonitis brought on by a ruptured appendix, but several legends continue to swirl around his last days. The most famous concerns an incident that had occurred after a performance in Montreal on October 22. While holding court in his dressing room, Houdini was approached by a university student who inquired about a rumor that he could withstand heavy punches to his abdominal muscles. When Houdini boasted about his physical strength, the young man walloped him in the stomach without warning, leaving him doubled over in agony. Houdini complained of stomach pains for the rest of the day, leading many to conclude that the unexpected blows somehow triggered his appendicitis. Others, meanwhile, allege that the great magician was poisoned by the Spiritualists, who had previously issued several death threats against him in response to his attacks.

“Houdini séances” are still held every Halloween.

Despite his skepticism about the spirit world, Houdini swore to his wife Bess that he would try to contact her from beyond the grave. He told her to listen for a specific message—a series of codes that spelled out the words “Rosabelle, believe.” Bess Houdini eventually spent a decade trying to contact her husband before giving up, supposedly saying, “ten years is long enough to wait for any man.” Others continued the search, however, and since the 1930s, fans have held Houdini séances every Halloween to attempt to communicate with the magician’s ghost. There is even an “Official Houdini Séance” that takes place in a different city each year.

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