You know about whining — the obnoxious, nasal complaining that serves no purpose other than to say, "Pay attention to me because I'm helpless and weak and irritating, and I can't get your attention based on strength or knowledge or reason so I'll drive you crazy by pitching my voice and my grievance in such a way that you'll do anything to have me stop, but you'll hate both yourself and me in the morning." The word actually comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for "whizzing" — which must have meant something different to them than to us — so obviously the concept of whining has been around for a very long time.

If you've got a legitimate complaint, say it clearly and cogently and respectfully and see what you can do to solve the problem. Leave whining to 3-year-olds who don't want to take a bath.

Fear is an awesome and formidable power that scary things don't deserve, so turn on the lights and look at what you fear. Figure out what you can do to be strong and bypass or tame what frightens you. Don't let fear have the power to control you. Take control of your fear.

What you already know is fine and comfortable and perhaps even useful, but if you spend your whole life with the familiar, you miss out on a lot of potential pleasure. The only way to truly appreciate what you have is to measure it against what else is available. You're shopping in a one-room shack when a whole mall awaits you. To paraphrase Auntie Mame, "Life is a banquet, and most poor dummies are feeding on crumbs."

I'm talking about blasting off and going bravely where you haven't been before: a land where you rule by laughing, singing, having fun, meeting new people, encountering new situations, finding new muscles and a sense of perspective. Okay, okay, I can hear you now: "Blastoff is scary. What if I get blown up on the launch pad or end up where there's no oxygen?"

Go for it. Lose your fear, and focus on your curiosity and strength. Think of other new experiences you've had: your first day of school, the time you tried a mango, your first airplane trip, the time you let your friend talk you into riding the giant roller coaster, and so on. Admittedly, not all new experiences are fun, but think of what you miss when you let your fear of the unknown keep you from trying. You may miss things like lobster or chocolate or a Jacuzzi — and a lot of exhilaration.

Even Captain Kirk, Spock, every astronaut, and every gorgeous creature and manly stud has been fearful. The difference between being paralyzed and going for it is a basic faith in yourself. This faith is really what confidence is all about. Even when you're not quite sure, the appearance of confidence can get you a long way. In the long run, looking like you know what you're doing is almost as important as knowing what you're doing. Almost.

Remember the musical The King and I (which is based, by the way, on a true story)? Anna and her young son arrive in Siam, a strange foreign country in which they know no one. While they're awaiting the summons of the king, who has a nasty reputation, Anna tells her son to whistle a happy tune to fool everybody into thinking that they're not afraid. This isn't just a movie moment. The truth is, if you pretend you're not afraid, before you know it, you're really not afraid.

Be afraid of not taking chances, not making mistakes. Look both ways before you cross the street, but don't stand in the middle of the crosswalk and tremble; you'll get run over.

Continue reading here: The Confidence Game

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