There is no doubt about it – having a healthy dose of self-confidence equates to living a happier, healthier, more successful life.

When you’re self-confident, you feel comfortable in your own skin. You know who you are, you generally like yourself, and you feel capable and optimistic. You relate well with other people and enjoy social interactions. You’re able to express yourself, ask for what you want and need, and stretch yourself with ambitious goals.

In fact, having self-confidence is a key to financial success.

According to a University of Florida study conducted by Dr. Timothy Judge and published in The Journal of Applied Psychology, self-confidence can translate into earning hundreds of thousands of dollars more over a lifetime. Even when self-confident people encounter adversity, they’re not as likely to internalize it or allow it to impact their success.

Different people have varying levels of self-confidence. Some people are born with a genetic predisposition to a positive attitude, which breeds self-confidence. Others were raised in loving, healthy, and supportive families and have a foundation of security and faith in who they are and what they can achieve.

But most everybody, at some point or another, faces insecurities that challenge who they really are and how they perceive their abilities. It’s not a question of if, but when. It’s in these insecure times in life when the most valuable skill at your disposal is the ability to harness your innate self-confidence — the self-confidence that exists within you whether you realize it or not.

So how do we get there – to the point of actualizing our innate self-confidence?

The good news is that self-confidence can be learned and nurtured, even if you’ve spent years with low confidence. It doesn’t happen overnight, but with time and practice, you can release the low self-confidence habits and thoughts that hold you back and develop new, positive habits that boost your confidence.

Get started right now with these 10 surprising actions that will set you on the path to sustained self-confidence.

1. Smile In the Mirror

Smiling releases endorphins which make you feel better about everything, including yourself and your circumstances. According to Dr. Amanda Grant Smith in an article for The Tampa Tribune, “The act of smiling itself has been shown to be good for one’s health. Simply changing your expression to a smile or mimicking another’s smile can cause involuntary biological changes just like those induced by emotions.”

Even if you have to fake it at first, put a smile on your face and look at yourself in the mirror. Seeing yourself looking confident and happy will reinforce the biological impact of smiling.

2. Change Your Body Language

Consciously observing then changing your body language can have the same biological impact as smiling. When you don’t feel confident, pay attention to body language and force yourself to adopt new behaviors. Stand up straight. Uncross your arms. Make eye contact. Make wider, more expressive gestures. Not only does self-confident body language “trick” your brain into becoming more confident, but also other people respond to you differently. As others perceive you as confident, you’ll feel more and more like you are.

3. Improve Your EQ

EQ is your Emotional Intelligence Quotient. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they’re telling you, and realize how your emotions affect people around you. When you seek to understand how others feel, this allows you to manage relationships more effectively.

As you develop your EQ, your self-confidence improves because you naturally attract other people and feel more empowered and in control of your reactions and emotions.

4. Revisit Your Childhood

Unresolved childhood issues can infect your happiness throughout adulthood. They impact your relationships and limit your overall confidence. Often we aren’t conscious of the limiting beliefs based on these early issues. We respond in ways that feels automatic and safe, even if the beliefs are severely limiting us. Revisit your childhood to consider any triggering events that have impacted your confidence. Remind yourself how these childhood beliefs are no longer true for you. If necessary, seek counseling to free yourself from these old beliefs.

5. Learn to Love Failure

People with low confidence view failure as the worst possible outcome. Failing is hard, but it reveals we have the courage to try. Failing is a necessary element of success. Start to shift your perceptions about failure. Challenge the false beliefs you have created around it, and welcome it as a teacher. Embrace failure as a normal, natural part of personal growth and success, and seek to learn everything you can from it. Then allow yourself to move on, knowing that failure doesn’t define you.

6. Seek Your Passion

Looking for your life passion helps you get to know your authentic self. The actions involved in seeking passion bring you to a new level of self-awareness, which in turn allows you to understand and love your true self. Also as you get closer to your passion, you’ll encounter internal and external challenges, and overcoming these challenges boosts your confidence. You’ll learn how capable you are of controlling your own destiny and being the creator of your life rather than the reactor to it.

7. Envision and Affirm

The science of neuroplasticity reminds us that our brains can be rewired through our repetitive thoughts and actions. By practicing self-confident visualization and affirmations, you are changing your brain chemistry to support the feelings of self-confidence. Create your own confidence-boosting affirmations and imagery, and practice these every day. With time and practice, your brain will adapt and your feelings will follow.

8. Move Your Body

The effects of exercise on your confidence are so overwhelming it can’t be understated. During exercise, your body releases endorphins that give you a boost of energy and positive feelings. Simply the accomplishment of completing an exercise routine will give you a boost of confidence you can carry with you throughout the day.

9. Practice Proficiency

Nothing boosts your confidence like becoming really good at something. Find something you enjoy and become proficient at it. Practice it regularly. Improve your skills. Gain more knowledge. Become an expert. Not only will the outcome of proficiency make you feel more confident, but also the practice, discipline, and focus involved will make you feel great about your abilities.

10. Create Your POS

Your POS is your “personal operating system.” Often people who lack confidence are operating according to the rules and beliefs of other people. They look outside of themselves for reinforcement, guidance, and decision-making. When you develop your own system of beliefs, actions, and values, you don’t need to depend on others to feel like you are doing the “right thing.” You define for yourself what is right and best for you.

Remember, self-confidence can be learned and sustained through practice. You haven’t been given a lifetime sentence of low confidence. You have the power and the skills to boost your confidence and change the quality of your life for the rest of your life.

Guide to Inspired Life