Everyone wants to be "cool" at some point in life and the good news is that research shows us exactly how to realize that dream. It turns out that it’s possible to become a charming, smooth operator just like Johnny Depp, Don Draper (aka Jon Hamm) or Beyonce - if you're not already up there with the best. All you need to do is follow some pretty simple tips and techniques and you'll be on your way.
Most recently, Olivia Fox-Cabane (author of The Charisma Myth) has nailed down exactly what it is that makes us cool and shared the details with all her readers. She says that being cool – or having charisma – is something that can be learned “step by step” and something that can come and go throughout life.
So what exactly does it mean to be cool? Philosophy Now magazine reported in its recent issue that the definition of cool is pretty ambiguous but that despite this, people “remain capable of distinguishing cool attitudes from uncool ones.” It reported that “cool resists linear structures”. Being cool encompasses all sorts of things including winning, risk-taking, being unpredictable, not conforming, being moral, not being too different, and more.
If you want to ooze charisma and bring out the cool within you, then check out these five scientifically-proven tips and you’ll be on your way to being cool in no time.
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5 Be Confident & Stand Tall
Being confident is a key ingredient in your quest to becoming cool. The best way to do that is to assume people already like you and think you’re cool. As reported by psychology expert Eric Barker at Time.com, researchers found that one of the factors that helped people gain more charisma was “acting confident”. He reported that “self-esteem is sexy and looking stressed is not”. In fact, US researchers found that modest men, in particular, can be viewed as weak.
In order to boost your confidence and look like a new-age James Dean, keeping a strong, tall posture can be a big help. Health psychologist at Stanford University Kelly McGonigal told Oprah.com: “Your brain is constantly checking in with the rest of your body to find out how you’re feeling. When your posture is erect, the message it gets is: I feel good about myself.”
4 Don’t Try Too Hard – Less is More
Cool people like Pierce Brosnan aren’t over-the-top; they’re smooth and effortless about getting what they want. Fox-Cabane points out in The Charisma Myth (available at Amazon.com) that cool people like James Bond speak “slowly and calmly”. They aren’t full of big, pleading smiles when asking for what they want. As she says in her book: “Composed people exhibit a level of stillness… They avoid extraneous, superfluous gestures such as fidgeting with their clothes, their hair, or their faces, incessantly nodding their heads, or saying ‘um’ before sentences.”
For example, at theartofmanliness.com, writers say that: “Using uh and um too often takes away from the forcefulness and eloquence of your remarks.” They recommend keeping your sentences simple and short, relaxing and being less self-conscious in order to avoid those sentence fillers.
Overall, science shows that trying too hard can be counterproductive in all parts of life. For example, Oliver Burkeman reported on a study by Harvard University psychologist Dan Wegner in The Guardian. He stated that bad results can come from making too much effort. As said by Wegner, “We carefully cradle the glass of red wine as we cross the room, all the while thinking ‘don’t spill,’ and then juggle it onto the carpet under the gaze of our host.”
3 Get Your Attitude in Check
Screeds of studies out there show that body language is very important when it comes to being cool and getting what you want in life. However, as outlined by Fox-Cabane in her book The Charisma Myth, we should instead focus on our inner self, and our body language will start to reflect that automatically. So, there’s no need to constantly monitor if you’re twirling your thumbs, playing with your hair or biting your lip. She says: “…get yourself into a mental zone of whatever body language you want to emanate.”
Positive thinking isn’t a new concept and it’s one covered by many psychologists around the world. Take Barbara Fredrickson, for example, who is a researcher at the University of North Carolina and published a major paper on positive thinking. She found that people who experience more positive emotions (such as joy, happiness and love) will see more possibilities in life – which of course helps you in your journey to being cool!
As James Clear wrote in The Huffington Post, the best way to improve your positive thinking and get the benefits of that is to: “Seek joy, play often, and pursue adventure. Your brain will do the rest”.
2 Don’t Always Follow the Rules
This doesn’t mean the kind of rule breaking that involves school kids sneaking out back for a cigarette at lunchtime. As reported at Time.com, people should be “socially savvy” and break social rules when it may benefit them because it makes you seem more powerful (and, therefore, cool). Embrace the rebel within and find the right time to break the rules and use it to your advantage.
As detailed in article titled “Breaking the Rules to Rise to Power” in Social Psychological and Personality Science at SAGE Publications, scientists found that: “Violating a norm implies that one has the power to act according to one’s own volition in spite of situational constraints, which fuels perceptions of power.” The science is clear: it's cool to break rules (sometimes).
1 There’s Cool – And Then There’s Too Cool
It may seem contradictory to your whole quest, but whatever you do, studies should that you shouldn’t try to be too cool (as in a full-blown jerk). For example, research shows that being interested in others can be very effective at some times, while other research shows that being distant can make you seem cool and powerful.
For example, as reported in the New York Daily News in 2012, a team of psychologists found that in today’s world, being cool could be less about rebellion and more about being “friendly and warm”. The study, by researchers at the University of Rochester, looked at the “contemporary definition” of the word cool and found that participants judged a person’s “cool” factor by a bunch of traits including friendliness, confidence, success and likeability.
All up, every situation can be treated differently. Studies show that there are situations where you can be enthusiastic and cool, all at the same time. It's about being aware of your surroundings and adjusted your "coolness" to suit.
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