How to Be Happy and Confident in 7 Simple Steps

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Chimp Paradox" by Steve Peters. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to find out how to be happy and confident? How can you change your mindset to become positive and self-assured?

This article will teach you some practical steps for finding happiness and confidence in your own life. This includes how to focus on the effort you put in rather than the outcome, how to use the “virtual twin” technique and how to be kinder to yourself.

Discover how to be happy and confident with the helpful steps below.

How to Be Happy and Confident Today

The following seven steps can help you to be more confident and happy. Read on to find useful tips and techniques that work.

Step 1: Find Out What Makes You Happy

If you want to find out how to be happy and confident, it’s useful to figure out what makes you happy. The specifics of what makes a person happy are different for every person, so to start, figure out specifically what will make you happy. Be aware, when evaluating what makes you happy, of the difference between what you might want and what you need. These are often the differences between what your emotional mind wants and what your rational mind wants. 

Step 2: Track Your Progress

In order to find out how to be happy and confident, you should keep track of things that make you happy. Keep tabs on your happiness and track your progress consciously. Keep a journal of the things that make you happy and the things that don’t. Keeping them consciously in your mind in this way will help you live more purposefully. 

Step 3: Try the Virtual Twin Technique

When you find yourself in a difficult time and feel unclear about how to move forward, you can use the “virtual twin” technique. With this technique, you’ll invent a copy of yourself to whom you can give advice. Give this twin a name to make it more real. Then, have a conversation with your virtual twin. Give your twin advice on how to solve their problems. You may find that you have an easier time figuring out your twin’s problems than your own because you’ve created some psychological distance. This technique can help you to figure out how to be happy and confident and how to keep yourself happy. 

Step 4: Focus on Effort, Not Outcome

Happiness should be based on your efforts, not on the outcome of those efforts. Similarly, base your confidence on your efforts, and not on the results of them. If you base your confidence on specific accomplishments, then your confidence will be variable and you’ll live with constant fear of failure—this is typically how your emotional brain measures its confidence. However, if you base your confidence on your efforts, then you’ll feel confident that you’ve done your best even when things don’t work out for you—this is how your rational brain views confidence. 

Step 5: Take a Rational Approach

If you want to know how to be happy and confident, taking a rational approach can help. The rational approach to confidence allows confidence to build on itself, since having an upbeat and optimistic outlook often leads to success anyway, which in turn feeds your confidence.

 For example, imagine you’re preparing to give a speech in front of 1,000 people. Your emotional brain will likely automatically feel fear and apprehension, because it bases your self-worth on the outcome of the speech. However, your rational brain knows that everyone agrees public speaking is difficult, and that if you mess up, it won’t reflect on who you are as a person. You know that if you do your best for the speech, you’ve succeeded. When you let your rational mind drive your confidence in this way, you’ll likely approach your speech with less anxiety and will consequently do a better job regardless.

Step 6: Be Kind to Yourself

Changes take time, so when you’re working to straighten out your planets and align your psychological state, don’t get discouraged if progress is slower than you anticipated. You may be changing more than you realize—often, other people notice changes in you before you do. Being kind to yourself can help you to work out how to be happy and confident and how to keep yourself happy.

Step 7: Remember You Have a Choice

Above all, remember that you always have a choice in everything you do, and ultimately, it’s up to you which inner self rules your life: your emotions or your rationality. Accept them both for what each can offer you, and work with—not against—each one’s instincts so that you can let them guide you to a happy, secure, balanced life. 

The above steps will help you with how to keep yourself happy. 

How to Be Happy and Confident in 7 Simple Steps

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Steve Peters's "The Chimp Paradox" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Chimp Paradox summary:

  • Why we struggle to control our urges, succumb to temptation, and sabotage our own success
  • How to manage your inner chimp to become happier, more balanced, and successful
  • Why your psychological world is like a solar system with 7 planets

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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