9 Things You Can Do to Feel More Confident


One way to make a good first impression is to go into a situation with your chin up, head held high, exuding confidence. New research says we judge how confident others are in just .2 seconds, and if you’re feeling weak or insecure, your voice will give you away almost immediately. Here, a few scientifically proven ways to boost your self-esteem. 

1. Get bigger

In nature, one way to assert dominance is by becoming physically larger than an opponent. Alpha personalities stand up, stretch out, make themselves big to scare off others, and according to Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, this rings true for humans. Her research suggests that, even if you’re not naturally aggressive or confident, by assuming a “power pose”—like stretching your arms out or standing with your hands on your hips—for just two minutes, you can trick yourself into feeling more confident. “Power poses” boost your testosterone and reduce cortisol (“the stress hormone”), she claims. Recent research disputes Cuddy’s findings regarding hormones, but supports her theory that power poses influence how confident we feel. “Before you go into the next stressful evaluative situation, for two minutes, try doing this, in the elevator, in a bathroom stall, at your desk behind closed doors,” Cuddy says. “That's what you want to do.” 

2. Wear cologne or perfume

You might want to consider spritzing on some fragrance the next time you want to impress. In one study, researchers gave two groups of men identical aerosol cans, some filled with odorless substances, others filled with fragrance and “antimicrobial agents,” the same stuff that targets odor-causing bacteria in some deodorants. The cologne-covered men showed improved confidence, and as a result, were rated as more attractive by women who viewed them in video clips. "This effect highlights the flexible nature of self-esteem to respond to rapid changes in one's own physical traits through the use of artificial cosmetic products,” the study says. “An individual's personal odour and the perfume product chosen may thus influence both self-perception and impressions formed by others."

3. Work out

As if you needed another reason to get to the gym. Research suggests exercise, even a little bit of it, can convince you that you look better. “This is an important study because it shows that doing virtually any type of exercise, on a regular basis, can help people feel better about their bodies,” said Kathleen Martin Ginis, a kinesiology professor at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. 

4. Meditate

“Meditation ... means ‘silence of mind’ which brings positive cognitive and affective changes in the personality,” write the authors of a 2008 study that examined how meditation impacted the self-esteem of a group of student-teachers. At the outset, the researchers expected meditation would have no impact at all, but their findings turned that hypothesis on its head. Meditation improves “psychological functioning like self-esteem, concentration, decision making power, intelligence, memory,” they write. “It helps to remove negative emotions, anxiety, complexes (inferiority or superiority) as it makes the mind silent. This change helps to increase trust in the abilities and good qualities of the self, i.e. self confidence.”

5. Get superstitious

Got a lucky shirt or a rabbit’s foot? Put it to good use when you need a boost. Research from the University of Cologne suggests just indulging in superstitious tendencies can improve performance in certain skills, not because they actually attract luck, but because they make us feel more confident. In one study, volunteers who had their “lucky charm” nearby performed better at memory games and actually set higher goals for themselves. In fact, just wishing someone luck provides a small boost in confidence and improves performance. 

6. Gossip

Those of you who can’t resist the urge to talk about someone behind their back are in luck: One study says gossiping does good things for your self-esteem. But there’s a catch—you have to say nice things. In the study, 140 men and women were asked to talk about a fictional character, either positively or negatively. According to Dr. Jennifer Cole from Staffordshire University, those who said positive things saw a 5 percent boost in self-esteem. 

"Gossiping is usually seen as a bad thing,” Cole said. “Our findings suggest some forms of gossiping—particularly of the type where people praise others—could be linked with some desirable outcomes for the gossiper despite the fact that gossipers are not generally approved of." 

7. Blast some bass

If you want to feel more powerful and confident, science says you should listen to music that has loud bass levels. In one study, researchers manipulated bass levels in music and “found that those who listened to the heavy-bass music reported more feelings of power.” It’s no wonder athletes blast jams to pump themselves up before a game. Researchers think “high-power” music with a strong bass evokes a sense of power, which we internalize. And even though they controlled for lyrics and found they have no impact on how the song makes us feel, researchers say Queen's "We Will Rock You" is one of the most powerful songs.

8. Think of your most powerful moments

It seems just recalling a time when you felt strong can make you seem more powerful to outsiders. This research involved two groups: One was asked to think of a time they felt very powerful, another when they felt powerless. They were then asked to either write a job application letter or participate in an interview for business school admission. According to the study, the independent judges “significantly preferred the written and face-to-face interview performance of powerful applicants to that of powerless.” 

9. Check out your Facebook wall

If you’re feeling low, try opening Facebook and browsing your own profile. Some 2010 research found that college students who looked at their own Facebook wall, or posted a profile update, showed increased self-esteem afterwards. Why? Your Facebook page has been tailored—by you—to display what you think is your best self. It seems that getting a reminder of this positive image can provide an extra confidence boost. "For many people, there's an automatic assumption that the Internet is bad,” said Jeffrey Hancock, associate professor of communication at Cornell University, and a co-author of the study. “This is one of the first studies to show that there's a psychological benefit of Facebook.”

Justin Tallis, AFP/Getty Images
Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
8 Cemeteries Unearthed at Construction Sites
Justin Tallis, AFP/Getty Images
Justin Tallis, AFP/Getty Images

The people who lived before us are often just beneath our feet, even if their tombs are sometimes forgotten. Lost under urban development, they are rediscovered when a subway, building, or other structure claims the ground for progress. Here are eight burial sites that came to light in this unconventional manner.


The construction of Rome's subway has unearthed everything from a 2nd-century home decorated with mosaics and frescos to a 2300-year-old aqueduct. The San Giovanni station, slated to open in 2018, will feature displays of artifacts found during its excavation, such as Renaissance ceramics and the remains of a 1st-century agricultural fountain.

Back in 2016, extension work on Line C ran into a 2nd-century military barracks with 39 rooms, likely used by Emperor Hadrian's army, as well as a mass grave of 13 skeletons. The dead may have been members of the elite Praetorian Guard, protectors of the Roman emperor. Investigations are ongoing, although officials have planned for the barracks to be incorporated into the station architecture. Its opening date remains in limbo as archaeological finds continue to slow its construction.


In 1991, construction of a federal office building revealed a colonial-era burial ground in Lower Manhattan. The graves, dating back to the 1690s, had been lost due to landfill and development, yet were identified as part of the African burial grounds that in the 17th century were located outside the old city.

Banned from interment in white cemeteries, free and enslaved Africans and African Americans had established a place to give respect to their dead, with an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 burials. Thanks to grassroots activism, including protests against continued construction, the site is now commemorated with the African Burial Ground National Monument, which opened in 2006.

It's not the sole black cemetery to be buried under development in New York: The Second African Burial Ground, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, is located below today's Sarah D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side; and in East Harlem, a 17th-century slave burial ground, discovered by construction workers at a bus depot, awaits a planned memorial.


Burrowing deep under London, the ongoing Crossrail commuter rail project has exposed obscure layers of the city's past—and a treasure trove of history. Along with medieval ice skates and a Tudor bowling ball, archaeologists have identified two mass graves. One has 13 skeletons of people who probably died in the 14th century of Black Death (with DNA on their teeth still holding the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis); a larger site has 42 skeletons of victims of the Great Plague of 1665. The study of the Great Plague skeletons, excavated in 2015 by Museum of London Archaeology, similarly showed traces of the disease in their old teeth. (Luckily the bacteria is no longer active, so no need to dust off your plague doctor beak mask.)

While such "plague pits" have long been rumored—some urban legends say the London Underground had to curve to avoid messy heaps of bodies—study of the sites indicated that there was in fact great care taken with the deceased. The bodies were placed in individual coffins, giving them some dignity even in this hasty mass burial.


Sometimes, to borrow a line from Poltergeist, people only move the headstones when relocating a cemetery, and stray bones and coffins are left behind (digging up the dead is generally unpleasant work). That seemed to be the case with a graveyard unearthed at a construction site on Arch Street in Philadelphia in March 2017. The dozens of coffins that were discovered are believed to be part of the First Baptist Church Burial Ground, established in 1707 and supposedly moved to Mount Moriah Cemetery in 1859. The Mütter Institute spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign for analysis and reinterment of the bones, and volunteer archaeologists convened at the site, racing against time to map the grounds and remove the burials of more than 100 people. Their remains were carefully analyzed.

Archaeologists subsequently found the remains of more than 400 people at the site as construction went on in other areas. Building at the site continues, as does the grassroots-funded research on the bones (you can follow the team's progress at the Arch Street Bones Project website).


In 2013, construction on a subway in Thessaloniki, Greece, turned up the grave of a woman buried around 2300 years ago. The Early Hellenistic lady was interred with a gold olive branch wreath.

Surprisingly, this wasn't the first such skeleton found during subway construction to be so regally crowned. In 2008, another Hellenistic woman was discovered with four gold wreaths and gold earrings in the shape of dogs' heads, all indicators of wealth and respectability—something marred a bit by the sewage pipe that had wrecked part of her grave.


While digging a trench in 2013 for a gas pipeline in Saskatchewan, Canada, a contractor noticed bone fragments in the soil that turned out to be 1000-year-old human remains.

Construction was halted so First Nations elders and archaeologists could examine the area. Ultimately, the pipeline company opted to tunnel deeper to avoid disturbing the ancient burials.

It was only one of many instances of massive infrastructure projects coming in contact with pre-colonial burial grounds. In 2017, for example, road construction in Duluth, Minnesota desecrated graves when the state's department of transportation failed to evaluate the area for artifacts prior to breaking ground.


Near Weymouth in Dorset, England, a mass grave of more than 50 young men was discovered in 2009 by archaeologists doing a survey before road construction began. All the victims had been killed brutally, at once, with multiple blows from a sharp weapon visible on their bones, and their heads had been severed. In 2010, researchers identified them as Vikings by radio-carbon dating the bones to 910 to 1030 CE, when the English clashed with Viking invaders. Analysis of the isotopes in the teeth indicated Scandinavian origins. Due to their lack of clothing and their similar manner of death, they were likely executed as captives. They're now part of the Dorset County Museum.


Among the roughly 38,000 people interred beneath a neighborhood on Chicago's Far Northwest Side are the impoverished inmates of the Cook County almshouse and patients from the county insane asylum. The area was known as Dunning, and its squalid institutions were so well known that a judge in 1889 declared them a "tomb for the living." The 20 acres of the site also included a potter's field for the indigent and unclaimed, and the burials of more than 100 unidentified dead from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The potter's field was revealed in 1989 during construction on luxury homes. Sewer workers who were laying pipes also turned up a corpse that was so well-preserved his handlebar mustache was still visible. Bodies were relocated to a site now called Read-Dunning Memorial Park, giving these dead some recognition in the city for the first time.

Just Two Cans of Soda a Day May Double Your Risk of Death From Heart Disease

If you've been stocking your refrigerator full of carbonated corn syrup in anticipation of warmer weather, the American Heart Association has some bad news. The advocacy group on Wednesday released results of research that demonstrate a link between consumption of sugary drinks—including soda, fruit juices, and other sweetened beverages—and an increased risk of dying from heart disease.

Study participants who reported consuming 24 ounces or more of sugary drinks per day had twice the risk of death from coronary artery disease of those who averaged less than 1 ounce daily. There was also an increased risk of death overall, including from other cardiovascular conditions.

The study, led by Emory University professor Jean Welsh, examined data taken from a longitudinal study of 17,930 adults over the age of 45 with no previous history of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. Researchers followed participants for six years, and examined death records to determine causes. They observed a greater risk of death associated with sugary drinks even when they controlled for other factors, including race, income, education, smoking habits, and physical activity. The study does not show cause and effect, the researchers said, but does illuminate a trend.

The study also noted that while it showed an increased risk of death from heart disease, consumption of sugary foods was not shown to carry similar risk. One possible explanation is that the body metabolizes the sugars differently: Solid foods carry other nutrients, like fat and protein, that slow metabolism, while sugary drinks provide an undiluted influx of carbohydrates that the body must process.

The news will likely prove troublesome for the beverage industry, which has long contended with concerns that sugary drinks contribute to type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. Some cities, including Seattle, have introduced controversial "soda tax" plans that raise the sales tax on the drinks in an effort to discourage consumption.


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