Most smiles are started by another smile. ~Author Unknown~
Researchers at McGill University in Montreal have come up with video games that will give a boost to your confidence even if you don't think you have any self-esteem issues.
Here's the premise: Many of us, & count me in on this one, have anxieties about whether we will be liked, accepted or respected by others. Sometimes we are aware of this, but often we don't even notice our "are-they-going-to-like-me?" or "am-I-going-to-sound-stupid?" unconscious self-chatter. It's often just a habitual behavior.
The McGill folks figured out the difference between the confident & the not so confident. Turns out, the confident folks have their own automatic self-talk that acts as a buffer to stop them from worrying about "what others think about them". And the buffer is....they just pay attention to the people who are accepting of them, who smile and encourage them, and ignore the nay-sayers. Or at least they don't let them get under their skin!
I look at it as the "glass half-full" or the "glass half-empty" way of looking at the world. The McGill psychologists came up with a way to "train your brain" to start looking for the positive strokes and ignoring the negative ones. They based their research on the old addictive computer game of Tetris. They noticed that if you play Tetris over & over again it can start to shape the way your look at the world (even invading your dreams). Likewise, playing a specially designed computer game might improve your thoughts & feelings about yourself.
Their research has proved very promising, but they're not making absolute claims that it's going to help any particular individual. Nevertheless, I found it fun, and was challenged to keep beating my previous scores. It's not something I would make a daily practice of, but it's a lesson on how to change your outlook about the positive & negative people you encounter. Concentrate on the positive people. There's no way around it - in any social situation, both always exist.
I wouldn't advise always ignoring the negative folks. I've learned that appearances are often deceiving, and someone who might look aloof, angry or sullen can often be won over with a smile, a warm greeting, or a heartfelt acknowledgment. And that's a real confidence booster. And if it doesn't work out, "Oh well!"
So give the games a whirl. I tried all three, EyeSpy: the Matrix, WHAM! Self-esteem Conditioning, & Grow Your Chi! My favorite was EyeSpy: the Matrix. Sometimes I'd stare at the screen & couldn't find the smiling face for the life of me. Often I'd mistake a neutral face for a smile. Hmm. Here's the link: Click here for games to boost your confidence! Just click on game pictures/icons & they'll start. You can keep playing over & over again to try & beat your previous score. They only take a couple of minutes!
And be sure to check out this instructive psychological test based on the research of Professor Paul Ekman, a psychologist at the University of California. Find out how well you can tell a real smile from a fake smile. It will only take 10 minutes & in the end I guarantee you'll be surprised & happy about how you scored. I scored 12 out of 20, & I'm glad I'm such a bad smile judge! Find out why, by Clicking Here!
Now that I'm all "tuned up" to start looking for smiles & giving out smiles I've just got to keep Elwood P. Dowd's advice in mind. I've always loved this quote from the 1950's play, "Harvey". I try to remember it every time I get in my misguided "Miss Smarty Pants" mode. You know what I mean. Like you're back in sixth grade & you're just madly waving your arm around so the teacher will finally call on you, because you want her to know how smart you are!
"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."
I wholeheartedly agree!
Last tidbit: Go see "The Band's Visit"!! It's a must-see movie that just reinforces how important it is to be open to people, cultures, and experiences that aren't familiar or comfortable or that may even scare you silly. An Egyptian ceremonial police band travels to Israel to perform at the opening of an Arab cultural center, and by mistake gets dropped off at the outskirts of the wrong Israeli town, in the middle of nowhere! The heroes of this movie are an Israeli woman & a young Egyptian man who have the gift of seeing the positive and are fearless. Subtitles with a lot of English.