Here is the full transcript of Moraa Ongwae on Confidence and Happiness at TEDxYouth@BrookhouseSchool conference.
It is said that confidence comes from within, meaning that you are the only one who can make yourself feel confident. So, what does this have to do with happiness? I’m assuming that we all want to live happy lives, right? And I believe that you cannot live a happy life unless you’re confident in yourself.
Why? Before I continue, you first need to know what this word “confidence” means. Confidence is the belief or assurance that one can accomplish any task, no matter the difficulties or obstacles that you may encounter. Confidence could also be the feeling that one gets from appreciating their own qualities and abilities.
Now, back to my question, why is it that some people who are more confident in themselves tend to live happier lives, as opposed to those who have little or no confidence at all? This is because, when you’re comfortable with who you are, you often look at the positive aspects of life, while if you’re less confident in yourself, you often look at the negative aspects of life. Positive thoughts lead to happiness, while negative thoughts lead to sadness, and, in worst-case scenarios, it could lead to depression or stress.
Think about it. People like Oprah Winfrey and Walt Disney have both been successful just because they thought positive, despite the negative circumstances. Oprah is one of the most iconic faces on television, as well as one of the richest and most successful women in the world, regardless of the fact that she had an abusive childhood and numerous career setbacks, including being fired from her job as a television reporter because she was deemed “unfit for TV”.
Today, Disney gets a profit of billions from movies, merchandise, theme parks, and it even has its own television channel. However, Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. He got fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination” and had “no good ideas”. He later went on to start a number of businesses which ended up in bankruptcy and failure, but, due to his positive thinking, he kept on going, until he finally created Disney.
I realized that there is a pattern in both of these inspiring stories. Both of these people faced challenges in their lives, and instead of giving up, they think positive. This positive thinking then makes them confident enough to let their past go and move on, until they finally reach their ultimate goals in life.
These are good examples of how positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes, which ultimately leads to happiness. I may not be as rich or as successful as both of these people, but I’m just as happy. This is because I’m confident in my own abilities and qualities. I was not always as confident as I appear to be today, and I only got to appreciate myself when I went for an exchange program to the Inter-Community School in Zurich, Switzerland. I believe the exposure I had to different people and cultures greatly helped in building my confidence.
Before I went for the exchange program, I was very quiet and invisible. I never liked drawing any sort of attention to myself, and that included asking or answering questions in class. Then, I went to Zurich, and it was hard for me to be invisible, due to the fact that I stuck out like a sore thumb, because of my skin color, as I was the only black student in the entire school.
I also had to make presentations in front of classrooms of students that I barely knew. I was in a different environment, and this helped me get out of the comfort zone in which I had been living all my life.
I came to the realization that I had been missing out on the opportunities that were all around me, just because I was not confident enough to pursue them. After the exchange program, during a parent-teacher consultation, a teacher came up to me and she told me that the exchange program had changed me, because before I went for the exchange program, I was very quiet and invisible. I never looked up at her whenever we were having a conversation.
And, at that time as she was talking to me, I was actually looking up at her. A few years ago, I’d have never imagined myself on stage, talking to an audience such as this, but look at where I am now! I can confidently say that I’m happier than I was a few years ago because I have learned to appreciate my own qualities and abilities.
And if this can happen to me, I believe it can happen to those of you thinking that they’re not confident enough. All you have to do is step out of your comfort zone and face your fears with a positive attitude, of course, and you’ll be amazed at the amount of happiness and confidence you’d have gained from the entire experience.
As I conclude, I’d like to leave you with the words of the author Norman Vincent Peale: “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy.” I imagine a world where we were all confident in who we are and what we believe in. Imagine just how happy our lives would be.