How to Be Cool in 10+ Steps

4 May

Are you cool?  Check out our checklists and see how you fare.  Keep reading, and you will learn how to achieve this elusive trait.  If you’re already there, congratulations.  I’m not.

Iceman, the Marvel comics superhero, as shown on the website

I need to be more “cool.”  I am decidedly un-cool.  Does that make me warm?  No, it makes me embarrassing.  People can take one look at me and tell exactly how I feel.  And that can be a terrible handicap.  For example, when I lose my temper, I can’t hide it, which makes me look like a toddler in mid-tantrum instead of the paragon of virtue that I pretend to be.  Also, I tend to gush about things I like, which is fine unless the other people aren’t rabid fans of Techno.

 Just in case you, too, need to be more cool, let’s look up a definition for the word.  After that, we can give you some rock-solid advice on how achieve coolness.

 Our good friend Wikipedia has the answer.  It always does, even though most of the information you read there isn’t expert.  (And most of what you read on the Internet isn’t interesting.) 

 “Something regarded as cool is an admired aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style, influenced by and a product of the Zeitgeist.”  Okay…what?  (Preparing to menu-dive into a maze of links…)

Zeitgeist (pronounced TSITE GUYST) is a German word meaning “the spirit of the times” or “the spirit of the age.” It can be traced to philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder in the mid-1700s.  He was associated with the artistic movement known as “Sturm und Drang,” which is mentioned here because it has such a cool-sounding name, especially when you say it with a German accent (SCHTOORM OONDRANG.)  That was a time “in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment.”

Hey, wait a minute…  Extremes of emotion?  That’s not cool.  The name of the movement translates to “storm and urge,” which describes the way I act now.  I’m afraid we will have to abandon this tangent.  I guess it used to be trendy to rage about things in Germany.  The Nazis certainly thought so.  In contrast, today’s Germans are among the coolest, most under-reacting people on Earth.  (Maybe that’s why they’re good at Techno.)

 The Merriam Webster dictionary says cool is “marked by steady dispassionate calmness and self-control,” which is what I thought it should mean. It also defines cool as “very good,” which is the most unenlightening definition ever.   It offers one final definition as “fashionable or hip,” but it fails to define “hip” correctly.  All it says is (noun) “part of the human body,” or “fruit of the rosebush rose,” or (verb) “to sprain or dislocate,” or (interjection) “exclamation used in cheers.”  This is wrong.  You know as well as I do that hip is an adjective meaning cool.

We’ve come full circle:  Cool means hip.  Hip mean cool.  It’s time to look for other answers.  A Google search yield mostly minor websites and joke videos.  A website does exist named “,” but it offers lame links such as “find friends” and “depression support” that cool people don’t need.  (Apparently I’m not the only person having trouble with this concept.)

The website advises:  Disregard what other people say.  Don’t try to make everyone happy.  Never argue.  Don’t slouch.  Speak confidently.  Walk with a “glide.”  Bend rules, but don’t break them.  Never whine.  Be patient.  Stay focused.  Use few words.   Avoid overused slang.  Speak highly of your friends. Never talk down to anyone.   Have diverse friends.  Don’t join clubs.  Always keep learning. 

Well, that’s not a bad start, but I doubt it will impress the bar crowd–you know, those cool, 20-somethings, the beautiful people, who hang out all night, doing Xtreme fun things.

The website advises:  Have a nice, good-looking girlfriend.  Don’t over-call your friends; have a purpose when you call them.  Dress well.  Be knowledgeable.  Be funny.  Don’t be a downer.

That sounds more like being admirable than cool.

The website advises:  Learn to do with less attention.  Don’t compete with other people for attention.  Say less than is necessary.  Learn to behave well from those who don’t know how.  Do not ‘freeload’ or overstay your welcome.  Never whine.  Appear unhurried.  Be different — but not too different. Appear not to want things you cannot have.  Exercise courtesy and tact at all times.

That sounds more like being polite than cool

A more practical approach comes from   In short:  Remember that you can’t please everyone.  Present yourself well in public.  Be calm and confident.  Stand up for yourself but avoid arguing.  Speak briefly and clearly.  Converse well.  Use humor and laugh at yourself.  Develop your goals and talents.  Find real friends.  Be friendly but not overly eager.  Dress in your own style.  Be yourself.  Do the right thing.  Don’t brag.  Don’t do drugs.

Good advice, especially appropriate for the preppy floating through life.

A humorous perspective comes from the website  He writes:  Have a killer pickup line.  Don’t do what your parents want you to do.  Imitate the appearance of someone you think is cool.  Have an enigmatic nickname.  Reference Fonzie.  Have an enviable job.  Know your coffee drinks.  Be prepared for any situation.  Parallel park well.  Be in a band.

According to the above advice, I already fit the definition of cool.  And since I know that isn’t true, the advice must be off-target.

Back to Wiki’s original definition–if cool means in “the spirit of the times,” that makes it close to the meaning of “trendy.”  Therefore, it may approximate the term “hipster.”  Those people make a point of knowing what is cool before it’s cool.  Once it becomes mainstream, it’s over for the hipsters.  So, are hipsters the definition of cool?  Maybe, for some people, they are.  For most people, hipsters are laughably presumptuous.  How can anyone be cool when they are trying too hard?

Perhaps it is time to look back to ancient Eastern philosophy for the answer.  Ninja is cool.  Chuck Norris is… well, he used to be cool until people started telling all of those jokes. The creed of Tae Kwon Do, Korean martial arts, sums it up nicely:  Respect.  Courtesy.  Goodness.  Trustworthiness.  Loyalty. Humility.  Courage.  Patience.  Integrity.  Perseverance.  Self-control.  Indomitable Spirit.  Does anyone care to argue with a martial arts master?  No?  Good move.

People seem to agree that coolness goes deeper than surface actions and appearances.  “How to Be Cool” turned into a list of actual character traits that comprise a psychologically well-adjusted personality!

What’s more, a distinct difference emerged between “popular people” and “cool people.”  Popular people are often too social and outspoken to be truly cool. Popular people follow the crowd, but cool people find their own way.  Popular people can be snarky, but cool people rise above base behavior.   On the other hand, cool people can end up being popular, but the catch is, they don’t care.

In short, cool is a good way to be.  I’d rather be cool than popular because cool people have integrity.  Based on the best suggestions so far, plus a few suggestions of our own, here is a list of 10+ ways to achieve cooldom:

 Traits of a Cool Person:

1.  Calm – Don’t overreact to anything–good or bad.  Let it go, and move on.

2.  Dignified – Have pride in yourself without arrogance.  Don’t hero-worship.

3.  Respectful – Be courteous to people.  Be considerate of nature.

4.  Understated – Speak your mind sparingly and effectively.

5.  Confident – Know your abilities, and be sure of what you do.

6.  Satisfied – Be comfortable with who you are.  Be content with what you have.

7.  Well-centered – Know your own feelings and values.  Be true to yourself.

8.  Low maintenance – Don’t seek attention.  Don’t be emotionally needy.

9.  Self-directed – Make your own decisions.  Find your own happiness.

10.  Original – Express yourself in a unique way.  Be creative and inventive.

11.  Stylish – Care about your appearance.  Present yourself well in public.

12.  Clever – Be alert, aware, and resourceful.

13.  Witty – Maintain your sense of humor.  Direct laughs at yourself.

14.  Talented – Develop your skills and knowledge.  Do something admirable.

If that list is too serious, or you don’t want to go through the difficult job of actually becoming a better person, all that is left is to become pseudo-cool–in other words, a Cool Poser.  An unfortunate number of people choose this easy but pathetic route.

 How to Pose as a Cool Person:

1.  Buy overpriced clothing and accessories.

2.  Own the newest and latest electronics.

3.  Go into debt for a hot car.

4.  Learn how to swagger.

5.  Imitate gang hand signs.

6.  Overuse catchy phrases.

7.  Curse in every sentence.

8.  Drop obscure references.

9.  Constantly text.

10.  Become a self-proclaimed expert.

11.  Show no emotion.

12   Be nice only to other cool people.

13.  Ignore inferior people.

14.  Remember:  It’s all about you.


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