3 habits of enchanting people

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What does it mean to be “enchanting”? If you Google search the word, this definition pops up – “delightfully charming or attractive.” It’s also the ability to mesmerize people and to draw them in. 

Being enchanting will make you more likeable in the workplace because you have the skills to come off of as personable, successful and powerful, which are all traits that many struggle to master at work.

Here are some ways you can become an enchanting person, both in the workplace and in your personal life.

Establishing trust

Vulnerability allows colleagues to trust you and establish a sense of interest. According to an article on Inc.com, if you share a small piece of your life with someone at work, that gets them to think that they are able to trust you more. They will reciprocate the feelings of comfort and acceptance, and therefore will be more at ease when in your presence. 

How does this make someone enchanting, though? Well, we can all agree it’s not always easy to let our guards down or to trust others, especially in a place of competition such as work. People who have this natural ability to put others at ease, and to confide in others so easily, is enchanting to see – we are immediately interested in this person’s abilities. 

Finding common interests

People are defensive by nature and always want to prove that their opinion is “right”. Most people don’t try to find common ground or see the other person’s side. However, enchanting people do – they draw people in because being able to admit you are wrong or compromising makes you appear more intelligent to others.

Thus, this lack of combative personality makes people want to strike up conversations with you and explore your openness, making you enchanting.

Exuding confidence

Enchanting and elegant often go hand in hand. Someone who has a graceful presence is often thought to be enchanting. These people often reflect two key words: calm and confident. The enchanting person, in the workplace and in life, maintains a confidence that isn’t cocky, but shows they know their worth and are secure in their ideas and morals.

When we are confident in ourselves, we are also more calm – we explain our beliefs softly but with conviction. Confidence is something that many people, if not all of us, struggle with. Whether it be an unhappiness with our physical appearance, not having the job title we want, or striking out on love, we all have things we wish we could be more confident with.

However, confidence doesn’t mean accepting all of these things. You may very well be unhappy with them for the rest of your life, but enchanting people own these flaws. They don’t let them get in the way of all of their amazing qualities. To be able to do this is rare, and therefore, people who can exude confidence and maintain a calm demeanor while doing it are immediately enchanting to the masses.

Being enchanting is a skill, and it can only happen from within you. Actively listening and accepting people’s ideas; being confident despite our flaws; and finding common ground to create relationships with people are all ways to become an enchanting person. 

How to get into a vacation mindset, no matter what life looks like right now

We can all agree that this year has been unlike any other in recent memory. It’s no wonder so many of us are searching for ways to protect and prioritize our well-being, amidst all the stress, uncertainty, and unsettling headlines. Taking time off is one way — but an important way — to recharge, especially during challenging times. It’s a pathway to feeling more refreshed, rested, and even hopeful.

But here we are, in August — in typical years, what might be known as peak vacation time — and those P.T.O. requests are M.I.A. Right now, I’m hearing from a lot of people that the idea of taking any time for themselves — whether it’s a day or a week — just feels weird.

I get that. But I also believe it’s time to reset our expectations around what taking time off really means, and what purpose it serves. Yes, most of us are feeling tired and experiencing emotional ups and downs. A lot of things are not in our control. But that only makes it more important to take time off — from our jobs as well as from our daily routines — to just allow ourselves to be. And to breathe. And perhaps even to process everything that’s going on in our lives right now.

Below are a few dilemmas I’ve heard recently, related to taking time off. Maybe some of these circumstances will resonate with you, or maybe you have different reasons for being reluctant to take time for yourself. Either way, try one or two of the strategies I mention and see how you feel. Maybe taking care of yourself in this way will even give those around you permission to unplug when they see you doing it.

Q: I have all this unused paid time off (P.T.O.), but I can’t seem to wrap my head around taking time off if I can’t travel. And this year, because of COVID concerns, I’m reluctant to go anywhere. What should I do?

Here’s a funny thing I’ve experienced in the lead-up to my past annual vacations: It’s super stressful trying to get things done at home, delegate at work, and make sure everyone is prepared for when I’m gone. We all want to walk out the door feeling we’ve done all we can, and have tied up every loose end, and that takes work. Then we come back from these vacations, where we’ve crammed in sightseeing or activities or nightlife, and we feel so exhausted that we say things like, “I need a vacation from my vacation” — and the next day, we’re right back at work.

This year, let yourself off the hook from the idea of a big travel moment, because the kind of “getaway” you can take — without actually going anywhere — might be even more restorative. Yes, we’ve been stuck in our homes and hometowns for a long period of time, and it’s completely natural to want a change of scenery. But if you can’t go somewhere else, reframe your perspective on where you are. Remind yourself that you don’t necessarily have to go somewhere else to unwind. If you can’t wrap your head around taking a week off at once, opt for an extended weekend. Or take a day or two off in the middle of the week. Think of it as an investment in self-care, minus the packing!

Q: My household’s income was reduced during the pandemic and finances are tight. How can I make the most use of my vacation time to recharge my batteries here at home?

Plan your ultimate staycation — make time for the things you love and rarely get to do. This year, Deloitte had a four-day “collective disconnect” weekend for the 4th of July. I stayed home over the break and read an entire book cover to cover. I was absorbed by the plot, I got to know the characters, and it was one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating things I have done in a while. If you can’t go anywhere, create your own fun at home. Plan movie marathons, read a book, take some virtual cooking classes. In fact, you could even choose a theme. For instance, say you’ve always wanted to go to Tuscany. You may not be visiting Italy this year, but you could take Italian cooking classes, watch classic Italian films, learn about Italian wines, and immerse yourself in another location and culture right in your own home. It can also be fun to involve the whole household if you have roommates, a partner, or kids.

Q: A lot of people in my workplace aren’t taking time off. How can I set a positive example for them and inspire others to take time off?

Recently, I heard a great idea from the Thrive team: When people return from time off at Thrive, they’re encouraged to share their story of what they did, to inspire others. You can start something like this with your own team, or simply lead by example. Take time off for yourself, even if you seem to be the trailblazer in the workplace. Be open and honest about the importance of time off, regardless of whether we’re in a pandemic or not. Make sure people don’t feel guilty. From a strategic standpoint, it’s also helpful to create a team P.T.O. schedule. I actually call it a Joy of Missing Out — JOMO — schedule. Team members can add their time off to the schedule, along with the name of whoever might be covering their work while they’re out, and maybe even some details of what they plan to do with their free time. This will empower everyone to take time off, as well as support one another. Make a thing out of it: Create fanfare before someone’s P.T.O., and invite them to share stories when they get back.

Q: I’m a working parent, so even when I have a day off from work or the weekend comes, I’m spending all my time taking care of my family (especially with camps and daycares still closed in my area). How can I make time to replenish myself?

With a busy schedule and lots of people to take care of, finding time for yourself comes down to being intentional about even the smallest chunk of time. If you have a day off from work, can you create a schedule for yourself that allows you to take advantage of napping kids? Or might they hop on a video call or play an online game with friends for a half-hour? Can someone in your COVID social pod take your kids for a socially distanced walk? While you might typically use that time to throw in laundry, or order groceries for the week, make the decision to put off that chore for a day. Let the floors be dirty, let the laundry pile up (for now), and take that time for yourself without feeling guilty about it. If you’ve got older kids, delegate some of the tasks that monopolize your time even on a day off. Ask them to refill all the soap dispensers in the house, or plan dinner. Sharing those things takes the pressure off and frees up precious hours for you to spend on yourself.

Q: I’m self-employed, so there is no “time off” for me, especially now that we’re in an economic crisis and I’m worried my usual gigs might dry up. How can I still feel like I’m “getting away”?

First, let me assure you that you’re not alone in your fears. During these economically challenging times, a lot of people are worrying about gigs drying up, or even unemployed and looking for a job. Those stressors can make it even harder to give yourself permission to take time off.

In this case, what you might find helpful is carefully looking at your schedule for micro opportunities for rest and recharging. Consider how to break up your time so that you’re present and engaged in your work every day while also scheduling small amounts of time for yourself. Scheduling self-care like it’s your job is a great way to ensure it happens.

Then, in those moments when you’ve planned to unplug, try to physically separate from your work to get the most out of your downtime. If you work out of a home office, for instance, shut the door and go to another room, or take a walk in your neighborhood if that’s a possibility. Last week, I made a plan to work Friday morning, then took the afternoon off. It wasn’t a lot of time, but I managed to sneak in a two-hour nap, which I never do. It told me just how much I needed to turn off, and I found it really valuable.

This article originally appeared on ThriveGlobal.

You can now use an Instant Pot to decontaminate your mask, experts say

Add mask sanitizing to the many functions of electric multi-cookers.

A new study says N95 masks can be decontaminated and keeps its form and functions with just 50 minutes of dry heat in an electric cooker, which is often found in kitchens as appliances such as a rice cooker or Instant Pot.

A team from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, headed the study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, which looked into the N95 respirators. The N95 masks have been dubbed one of the best ways to protect you from COVID-19 due to its resistance to airborne droplets and particles but were hard to come by since medical professionals and essential workers needed to use them.

The team, led by civil and environmental engineering professors Thanh Nguyen and Vishal Verma, wanted to find a way to properly sanitize the masks at-home.

“There are many different ways to sterilize something, but most of them will destroy the filtration or the fit of an N95 respirator,” Verma said in a press release. “Any sanitation method would need to decontaminate all surfaces of the respirator, but equally important is maintaining the filtration efficacy and the fit of the respirator to the face of the wearer. Otherwise, it will not offer the right protection.”

Researchers used a Farberware electric cooker to test whether the N95 respirator could be decontaminated. It’s often seen in kitchens as a digital pressure cooker.

During the test, researchers said the pressure cooker decontaminated the masks both inside and out at a temperature of 212 Fahrenheit for 50 minutes. In addition, four types of viruses including coronavirus were effectively washed away.

One other key takeaway is the sterilization process can be repeated. Researchers washed the masks 20 times and found that the viruses were killed on the masks, while the mask itself maintains its shape and the elastic headband was unaffected.

“We built a chamber in my aerosol-testing lab specifically to look at the filtration of the N95 respirators, and measured particles going through it,” Verma said. “The respirators maintained their filtration capacity of more than 95% and kept their fit, still properly seated on the wearer’s face, even after 20 cycles of decontamination in the electric cooker.”

2 principles that can help you advance your life when you feel stuck

Life doesn’t stop for anybody. People will continue to make plans. Plans to change their lives. Plans that define their futures. Plans to start new careers. Plans to launch new projects.

The list goes on. But sometimes our best plans and intentions don’t work and we find ourselves back at square one.

Instead of quitting when things don’t work out, leverage your fears, learn from them and start over.

Give yourself permission to start over when things are not working — it’s a natural way you can evolve into a smarter and better version of yourself.
Starting over is a powerful practice. It’s a more effective way to achieve your goal than constantly fixating on what’s not working.

Things may not always go as planned — they never do, but life goes on.
You have to make new plans and take action to keep moving. The ability to adapt despite the uncertainties is one of the most important skills you can master in a rapidly changing world.

The great law of nature is that it never stops. There is no end. Just when you think you’ve successfully navigated one obstacle, another emerges. But that’s what keeps life interesting.

Life just keeps moving. Plans change. Life happens. You get older. It doesn’t slow down just because you need more time to figure out what to do next. It just keeps moving irrespective of what you think or do.

Life doesn’t stop, and neither should you!

To stay relevant as you move forward in life, you have to be willing to embrace change and keep living. What got you where you are today won’t get you where you want to go tomorrow.

Transitions will happen in life with or without your consent. In fact, lean into it. Embrace it. Try to view change as a vital part of your personal growth.


Everything meaningful in life is a maze

Don’t expect to be amazing at writing, launching or learning something new in just a few steps. It’s not a smooth journey. It takes time and a lot of practice. The popular experts you know have practiced for months, even years to get to where they are. They keep showing up and do the real work.

If you approach life as a sprint or marathon, you will run out of energy. Peak performances are not achieved in a single practice.

Don’t think you can put in a pile of effort and rapidly reach your intended finish line. Appreciate the process and work your way to the top.

Life is a process of breaking through every obstacle thrown at you. Each time you cross an impediment, you’ll learn something. Each time, you’ll develop strength, wisdom, and perspective.

Until all that is left is you: the best version of you.

Ryan Holiday encourages us to persist in times of obstacles. In “The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph”, he says:

“It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit. To know you want to quit but to plant your feet and keep inching closer until you take the impenetrable fortress you’ve decided to lay siege to in your own life — that’s persistence.”

The journey of life can be wonderful, terrible, exciting, frightening, enlightening, confusing, or a beautiful maze.

As the Haitian proverb puts it — Behind mountains are more mountains.
The bitter truth is, the more you accomplish, the more things will stand in your way. There are always more obstacles, bigger challenges. You’re always fighting uphill. Get used to it and train accordingly.

When J.K. Rowling said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life,” she hit the nail on the head.

Whatever the obstacle is, tough times happen for everyone. Understand that each battle is only one of many and that you can use it to make the next one easier. It’s important to mentally prepare yourself for the changes that will come down the road.

Even when you mentally prepare for change, you will still feel the fear, but embrace the change anyway. Fear rarely reflect the actual change. Be easy on yourself and live.


Life has no strict signs, there’s just a maze of infinite options

You have to figure out your own route. What works for you. You don’t have to follow everyone on the same path. And don’t stay stuck in the wrong place.

Oliver Emberton says, “There are only two ways to advance your life: move forward when you can, or step back and try something else when you can’t. The greatest mistake to make is standing still.”

You need to build endurance. You need to become in tune with your body, knowing when it needs fuel, rest, and when it needs to be pushed if you are going to build up the endurance you need to finish strong.

And you have to be able to discern when you are getting too comfortable. Strive to step outside your safe zone.

Everything remarkable happens beyond the safe zone. By pushing yourself into new areas you will have a chance to authentically define who you are, and break free of the limitations of what others think you should be.
In the words of Marla Tabaka, “Your comfort zone keeps you in a very predictable space”.

A maze is full of choices, challenges and questions. And it’s subject to many external influences, both good and bad. Keep a curious mind. Follow your curiosity, enjoy the adventure and find what works for you and stick to it.

Whichever way you go, whether fast or slow, keep moving. You may feel like you are stuck in the maze with no way out and no purpose in life.

But there is always a way out. Find it. Live your life to the full with no regrets and strive to become the best version of yourself.

Become a master of starting over if things don’t work out the way you expect. Become a disciple of change or adaptation. With every new beginning, you’re becoming more of the person you were meant to be.

This article originally appeared in Medium.

Here’s what kids really think about adults

What advice do you think the 11-year old version of yourself would tell the adult you today? Everyone remembers their childhood and adolescence to a certain degree, but at the same time, a whole lot has happened since then. Consequently, it’s quite difficult for the average adult to truly recall how they viewed the world as a child.

Now, an innovative new study from the University of Portsmouth is providing a glimpse into what the youth of today really think about the adults all around them. Suffice to say, what participating kids had to say was eye-opening.

Despite being just 11 years old, children involved in the study displayed astounding insight and understanding. To start, many of the study’s young participants said that adults tend to spend far too much time worrying about knowing the answers to everything. According to the kids, adults think that children expect them to know everything about anything, but in reality, that just isn’t true.

In fact, this entire project started when lead study author Dr. Emma Maynard’s son Oscar told his mom: “Grown-ups don’t always get it right, you know.” Just that simple sentence inspired Dr. Maynard to conduct this research on child perceptions of adult knowledge and decision-making.

Another aspect of what makes this study so special is how it was conducted. The research itself consisted of asking a group of kids their opinions on adults. However, Dr. Maynard and her colleagues decided to flip the script a bit and allow Oscar (her 11-year old son) and his friends to write the questions for the study.

That last point is really quite extraordinary. This is the first time that a group of children had a legitimate role in a peer-reviewed and published research project. Oscar and his friends are even formally listed as co-authors of the study.

Anyway, besides their point about adults worrying far too often about being correct, the kids also had a few more things to say.

One opinion that all participating children agreed with was that adults these days are too hard on kids regarding the use of technology and devices like smartphones and tablets. While the children said they understand where adults are coming from, they also pointed out that older generations have no idea what it’s like to grow up surrounded by modern technology. Some kids even expressed a desire to avoid gadgets like smartphones, but said they feel powerless to do so because then they would “feel left out.”

“The children presented the concept of phones and social media as being ‘just there’, so now they have to use them. We interpreted this as the adult generation having created the assessment pressures, and the presence of social media and mobile phone-based communication. Children did not invent these things. This led us to think that in this context, criticisms of children and young people being attached to their phones is somewhat unfair,” Dr. Maynard explains in a release.

It’s easy for a 30-year-old to say a 10-year-old shouldn’t have a smartphone, but these responses show how it isn’t necessarily that simple. Kids growing up in 2020 are having a very different childhood experience than someone born in 1985 or even 1995. All of this isn’t to say that kids should be glued to their phones all day, but it’s still worth considering the problem from a modern child’s perspective.

Additionally, while the interviewed children didn’t seem to think adults should have all the answers, they did place a great deal of importance on being recognized by adults. Many children said they’re often frustrated by knowing the right answer yet not being able to show off that knowledge. The most frequent example given for this problem was teachers picking another student to answer a question in class.

At first, that last finding may seem like nothing more than children’s natural desire to do well in life. Interestingly, though, the interviewed kids said they feel enormous pressure to live up to the high expectations placed on them by television/movies, schools, and society itself. Prevailing culture tells kids they should look a certain way, reach specific achievements by certain ages, and learn at the same pace as their peers. When an adult acknowledges a child as doing something right or correctly answering a question, it reassures the adolescent that they’re on the right path.

In total, these findings represent an unprecedented peek into how modern children see and understand the world around them. Ironically, while kids today are more than happy to accept adults as imperfect, they’re still quite hard on themselves when it comes to learning and meeting expectations.

From an adult perspective, this study should serve as a reminder not to beat oneself up over simple mistakes or not knowing a particular fact or skill. As adults, we often feel like we should know it all; “I’m an adult now, I should know this stuff!”

The truth is no one knows everything – and even kids know that.

The full study can be found here, published in the Journal of Qualitative Research in Psychology.

How to test if your face mask is effective using 2 surefire techniques

My new thought process before I leave nowadays is, “Keys? Yup. Wallet? Check….Face Mask? Almost forgot!” Wearing masks has just become a way of life the past few months, and it’s most likely here to stay for a while. With coronavirus still running rampant across the globe, masks are required nearly everywhere you go.

The purpose of a mask is to protect yourself and others – so obviously, you want to buy something of quality. But how can you tell which mask is the most effective?

Here are the top two techniques you should be aware of when purchasing a mask. They may be a bit weird, but these tests are designed to show whether or not your mask will actually protect you, as well as the people next to you.

Try to blow out a candle

Sounds strange but think about it: the purpose of a mask is to not spread germs when we exhale. If you attempt to blow out the candle wearing a mask, theoretically, the candle shouldn’t go out. Bill Nye was the original creator of this experiment as he attempted to prove the point that a mask will, in face, protect you – but some are more effective than others. 

This experiment can be tried with different types of coverings, such as N95, cloth and surgical masks. The mask with the best barrier can be determined by which flame barely moves or doesn’t go out when blown.

Vaping

I know not everyone vapes but finding someone who does to test out a mask is also an effective trick. In previous experiments, people who exhaled the vapor while wearing a mask displayed how they change the direction that breath and germs escape. People who exhaled the vapor typically had it travel over the top of their head, down onto their chest and then behind them, which obviously is different than if you weren’t wearing any covering. Normally, the breath would go directly in front of you and disperse.

Test out different masks to see where the vapor escapes from. This can help you alter your design and choose the best prototype to prevent the spread of COVID germs.

These two simple tests can help with figuring out which mask is right for you. However, you can also look into the different types of face coverings to see all of the different options out there. 

This dream job will pay you $1,000 to watch great movies

Have you been meaning to watch “The Big Short” lately? Now’s your chance to get paid for it.

LeadMD is calling all aspiring entrepreneurs to watch 12 business movies with critical lenses. Forget watching from an entertainment perspective; this dream job wants someone to take a critical look at the best and worst business practices in each movie and to explain where it went right and wrong.

For your movie watching, the company says it will award one person a cool $1,000 in cash.

LeadMD says a contest winner will be given a list of movies to review where they will be asked to fill out a survey at the end addressing these questions:

• What kind of business is featured?
• What are the best business practices featured?
• What are the worst business practices featured?
• Was the business a success?

The ideal candidate for the job is a movie lover with a passion for business. Also, the 12 flicks must be watched within a month. Applicants can apply through Aug. 30.

The movies are below:

1. The Big Short
2. Joy
3. The Social Network
4. Moneyball
5. Intern
6. Jobs
7. Enron
8. Jerry Maguire
9. The Devil Wears Prada
10. The Founder
11. Wall Street
12. Erin Brockovich
13. A LeadMD Catalyst Podcast of your choice

Dartmouth study reveals what people really think about placebos

pills aspirin

The placebo effect, or the phenomenon of people feeling better while taking a fake drug just because they think they’re taking a real drug, has been proven time and time again.

Now, a groundbreaking new collaborative study has taken the placebo effect a step further, and come to some surprising conclusions.

Researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Dartmouth College have found that placebos can help people feel better emotionally – even when they know they’re taking a placebo. It doesn’t matter if a patient knows all they’re taking is a sugar pill with no real medical benefits, if that person believes the sugar pill will help them, then it will.

The original placebo effect is predicated on deception; usually, people given placebos are under the impression they’re taking real medication. For this study, though, researchers flat out told participants they would be taking placebos. Even then, the placebos still lowered stress and emotional distress levels among participants, both consciously and neurologically.

How did this happen? It all came down to whether or not they believed the placebo would help them. Initially, participants were given some reading materials on the placebo effect in general. This served to create the inclination in their minds that placebos have helped people in the past. Then, study subjects were asked to inhale a placebo saline solution nasal spray while viewing a series of “emotional images.”

Right off the bat participants were told the nasal spray offered no real medicinal benefits, but they were also told that the nasal spray would still help reduce the occurrence of “negative feelings” evoked due to the emotional images if they believed it would.

This occurred over two experiments. One measured self-reported feelings of emotional distress and another analyzed brain activity while participants watched the emotional images.

“Just think: What if someone took a side-effect-free sugar pill twice a day after going through a short convincing video on the power of placebos and experienced reduced stress as a result?”, says lead study author Darwin Guevarra, MSU postdoctoral fellow, in a release. “These results raise that possibility.”

A second, control group of participants also took part in these experiments, but these subjects weren’t told anything about placebos or their benefits before receiving the nasal spray and looking at the images. Instead, these participants were told the spray was simply being used to help refine researchers’ physiological readings during the experiment.

Across both experiments, participants in the non-deceptive placebo experimental group felt much better while looking at the images. Not only did these participants self-report lower feelings of emotional distress, but their brain readings also displayed reduced electrical activity relating to distress in response to emotional events. Moreover, these drops in electrical brain activity took effect within seconds.

“These findings provide initial support that nondeceptive placebos are not merely a product of response bias – telling the experimenter what they want to hear — but represent genuine psychobiological effects,” explains study co-author Ethan Kross, a professor of psychology and management at the University of Michigan.

The human mind houses numerous untold secrets yet to be discovered by modern science. This research goes to show just how much power our minds have over our bodies, and how much power our thoughts have over our minds. 

“Placebos are all about ‘mind over matter,” concludes study co-author Jason Moser, a professor of psychology at MSU. “Nondeceptive placebos were born so that you could possibly use them in routine practice. So rather than prescribing a host of medications to help a patient, you could give them a placebo, tell them it can help them and chances are — if they believe it can, then it will.”

The full study can be found here, published in Nature Communications.

This is how your brain knows how to make you sigh, according to science

Humans sigh hundreds of times a day – sometimes due to exhaustion, frustration or feelings of relief — sometimes for no reason at all. But there may be more to this life-saving function than you realize. A recent study published in Cell Reports revealed how our brain signals that it’s time to sigh and why.

A 2016 study found that sighing, as simple as it may seem, is actually a necessary function for survival. Our lungs contain over 500 million tiny, balloon-like structures called alveoli. Over time, these structures collapse and struggle to re-inflate — this is where sighing comes in.

“A sigh is a deep breath, but not a voluntary deep breath. It starts out as a normal breath, but before you exhale, you take a second breath on top of it,” study researcher Jack Feldman said. “When alveoli collapse, they compromise the ability of the lung to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. The only way to pop them open again is to sigh, which brings in twice the volume of a normal breath.”

The study concluded that it’s necessary to sigh every 5 minutes or so to inflate the alveoli and avoid lung failure.

For most people, our brain signals this reaction automatically and it is part of the normal breathing process. This is known as basal sighing. However, there are many other reasons that sighs occur as emotional responses, from stress and frustration to relief.

A recent study from the University of Michigan aimed to identify how the brain handles this reaction for different scenarios.

“We want to understand how all of these diverse inputs, both emotional and physiological, lead to the same behavioral output,” Peng Li, a physiologist and assistant professor at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute said.

Researchers used mice as a study model because the architectural structure of mice’s brains is similar to humans.

The mice were observed both in normal conditions, as well as stressful conditions. Researchers noticed that when placed in stressful situations, confined to a small, claustrophobic space, the mice began to sigh more frequently.

Through previous research, it had been discovered that one group of neurons, known as neurons expressing Neuromedin B (NMB) were involved in all forms of sighing – both basal and emotional. However, the study authors were able to identify another group of neurons, known as hypocretin-expressing neurons (HCRT), that control the elevated breathing rate when under stress.

“So we’ve found the circuit that regulates all types of sighing, but activates sighs for different reasons using input signals from different parts of the brain,” Li said. “And we found another group of neurons that induces sighing in response to this claustrophobic stress, but also regulates other claustrophobia-related outputs.”

There is still more research to be done, but Li said this could be a good first step to understanding the link between the brain and lung functions more.

“These findings give us clues about how the brain is wired to control various behavioral and physiological responses to emotions,” Li said.

9 things highly confident people avoid doing in interviews

Confidence is contagious — especially when it comes to persuading people you’re the right candidate for a job. “In general, most people — and the recruiters and talent managers are not an exception here — are naturally attracted to confidence. When we interact with someone who projects confidence, they immediately come across as more reliable and trustworthy. A confident person is always more likable and memorable and, as a result, more likely to be hired,” says Olga Labutina, executive and business success coach.

On the other hand, if you don’t show up confidently, you might end up hurting your chances of accessing a career opportunity that would actually be a perfect fit for your skills, experience and values. But projecting confidence can be easier said than done, right? That’s why it’s important to approach it in an actionable way. You can do so by learning how the most confident people conduct themselves in an interview setting and adopting their habits for yourself. “These habits can make it or break it for you during the hiring process,” says Labutina.

Let’s start with the habits you should avoid at all costs. Here are nine things highly confident people simply don’t do in interviews (and what they focus on instead).

1. Coming unprepared

This is a classic interview no-no, especially if you want to radiate confidence. According to Labutina, there are two reasons prep work helps you shine: You end up naturally demonstrating more interest in the company and role you’re applying to, and the extra context makes you feel more secure: “Highly confident people do their homework and know what kind of behaviors are acceptable in the company and for the position, they interview for. They know how to show up, what to wear in order to look and feel relevant. They talk about their experience and achievements in a manner that is expected for the position they interview for.”

2. Acting rude

Being super confident doesn’t mean being arrogant or, even worse, plain rude. Even if you had the worst morning ever before rushing to your interview, make sure to treat everyone with kindness and respect — regardless of whether they are the people interviewing you. “Highly confident people are polite and respectful. If you have been rude with the receptionist or security guards on your arrival, do not expect to hear back from that company ever again. In fact, most of the recruiters say they always ask for quick feedback on the candidate from the office support staff,” says Labutina.

3. Not showing passion

The most confident candidates are not always exceptional orators or super polished professionals. But they always convey their passion, energy and excitement for what they do. “Passionate people never look insecure,” says Labutina. “Highly confident candidates feel proud of their achievements and are passionate about the work.” So don’t hold back from displaying what you love the most about your career and what you’d love to contribute to a potential new role.

4. Pretending to be perfect

When prompted about past shortcomings, the worst thing you can do is try to conceal your failures. “Highly confident candidates are not afraid to embrace their weaknesses and failures in a genuine and authentic manner. They do not need to cover up for something that didn’t work quite as wanted it. Such candidates will demonstrate what they have learned from negative experiences and how they work on their weaknesses to show their agility, flexibility and desire to grow,” says Labutina.

5. Sounding judgemental

Highly confident people never talk badly about their previous employer and they are very mindful of not coming across as judgemental or petty. “Confident people, in general, do not have the need to judge others, as judgment always derives from personal insecurities,” says Labutina.

They also avoid pointing fingers when discussing previous experiences, as they know it only reflects badly on them. “Someone who refuses to take responsibility for problems or failures will never sound confident.”

6. Taking credit for all successes

Super confident candidates are not shy about mentioning their accomplishments — they are proud of their contributions. But they will also tend to highlight memorable teamwork wins. “Confident people do not have an itching need for self-assurance and for taking all the credit. They know their worth and acknowledge the contributions of the people around them,” says Labutina.

7. Avoiding eye contact

A surefire way to look immediately insecure is looking away when answering a question. Maintaining eye contact is a hallmark of confident communication. “When you make appropriately long eye contact with the person in front of you, you come across as confident, calm and credible. It also shows that you are actively listening, paying attention and are genuinely interested in the person in front of you.”

8. Treating the interviewer as superior

Labutina says that truly confident people don’t put their interviewers on a pedestal. They know their worth and approach the conversation like a two-way street. “Leading the discussion from a place of self-worth and equality, treating an interviewer as your peer and not as superior shows your self-esteem and advanced communication skills, something that will be a solid sign of a high-performing and highly-qualified potential employee.”

9. Displaying insecure body language

The most powerful form of communication is sometimes silent. Highly confident people carry themselves with good posture and speak in a calm and measured way. They avoid crossing their arms or looking closed off as well as talking super fast out of nervousness. “It is really hard to trust and admire someone who looks scared and fearful. It is also hard to consider such a candidate for a role which involves decision-making and autonomy,” says Labutina. “When we talk fast and in a high-pitched voice, it reflects the lack of comfort inside us. We may sound unsure and apologetic and this doesn’t help.”