It can be tough to pinpoint the exact qualities that make someone cool, since pretty much everyone has a different idea of what "cool" is. For some, it's a leather-coat-wearing, motorcycle-riding rebel. For others, it's the lead singer of a band, a scientist winning the Noble Prize, or just that really nice girl down the street. These people are wildly different, and yet they're all considered cool because they project a certain "something" that makes them stand out.
And that's why, even though coolness can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, it is possible to identify a few traits that connect all cool people together. "A 'cool' person is someone whose attitude and behaviors are composed but seen as uniquely their own," clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Gurner tells Bustle. "I think people are genuinely drawn to 'cool' people because they see them as a representation of who they wish to be — confident in who they are."
And luckily, that's something we can all emulate — even though it may feel tricky at first. "My advice? Fake it 'til you make it," says Gurner. "It sounds very cliche to say, but in truth, if you become the person you genuinely feel you are internally and wish to be, there are very few people who will know the difference." Here, a few more traits that are associated with "coolness", according to the experts.
1They Are Independent
Regardless of what society (or their friends and family) have to say, the coolest people in the world tend to do their own thing, and stay true to their course — even if it's unpopular. "Cool people often have some haters, but for the most part, people admire them for doing their own thing, even if that 'thing' is unique and different," certified counselor David Bennett tells Bustle. "We perceive this as cool because we admire people who have the confidence to boldly pursue the life they want." And by learning more about yourself, and doing things to gradually build up your self-esteem, you can project confidence, too.
2They Roll With The Punches
Even if life throws a curveball their way, the coolest folks are rarely phased. And it's not to say that they don't have insecurities or anxieties, or that they don't care. They do, however, maintain a laid-back attitude that allows them to see the world with clarity.
"They aren't uptight or worrying about everything," says Bennett. "They see the big picture that most things don't matter and have a big-picture perspective on things. Because of this, people love talking to and hanging out with them," as they're energy is nice to be around.
3They Take An Interest In Others
Sometimes, the coolest person in the room is the one who makes other people feel cool, by listening and taking a vested interest in them. "The prevailing belief is that to be cool, you have to be distant, remote, mysterious, and impossible to fathom. But the truth is that to be a fascinating person, you don’t have to distance yourself from others. The most fascinating people are those who are fascinated," Dr. Susan Shumsky tells Bustle. "In other words, they are people who are curious and interested in other people and in things they are learning and discovering. To be cool, be engaged."
4They Never Stop Learning
Going off that, cool people never stop learning, and often put effort not only in getting to know others, but in improving themselves, as well. "To be cool, be a lifelong student — a student of all there is to learn in this fascinating mysterious world, and a student of every person you meet, who can teach you something new," Schumsky says. The coolest people are the ones who takes classes, read books, have ideas, and who remained open-minded through it all.
5They Don't Try Very Hard To Impress Others
When it comes to projecting confidence, a lot of it has to do with the fact cool people aren't trying too hard to impress anyone. "Cool people don't need to try, they are," board-certified life coach Esther Gonzalez-Freeman BCC tells Bustle. "It is a way of being."
While this trait may be hard-earned for the coolest folks of the world, Gonzalez-Freeman says it can be easily copied by "not apologizing for who you are or trying to be like anyone other than yourself."
And this is true even if you believe yourself to be imperfect. "Cool people accept parts of themselves that others may be busy trying to hide," she says. "I think that is why we often associate the idea of someone who is chill as being cool. If you aren't busy trying to be someone you're not, then that is one less thing to stress about!"
6They're Pretty Much Always Confident
Just to really drive the point home, let's talk about confidence again. Even though everyone's entitled to an off day, and moments where they don't feel so great about themselves. cool people are usually able to pull it together and put on that swagger, wherever they go.
"When someone is rocking confidence they seem cool to others. They don’t seem concerned with what others are saying or thinking they are solid just being themselves," business expert Heather Monahan, author of the upcoming book Confidence Creator, tells Bustle. "Not only is that cool it is also incredibly attractive."
7They Project Positive Vibes
It's pretty easy to get caught up in the external, and think that coolness comes from the way someone looks, how they dress, etc. But it's almost 100 percent internal. "Cool is a feeling, a mindset, a way of being and acting," licensed clinical psychotherapist Dr. Fern Kazlow tells Bustle. "The inner state that determines cool is confidence, self-acceptance, clarity, conviction, and commitment."
It can take a lot of work to cultivate these traits. But if someone's willing to go through some self-discovery, and accept themselves for who they are, they can be cool, too.
8They Have Hobbies They Care About
It doesn't matter what the hobby is — writing, making music, running marathons, knitting, etc. — most people who are considered cool have something they care about. "They have fun interests and hobbies," Ritu Reimer, a licensed therapist and coach, tells Bustle. And they're passionate about them.
The reason this is "cool" is because people find passion intriguing. Cool people are interesting because they're always learning something new, and thus always have something to talk about.
9They Are Non-Judgmental
Since cool people have embraced their quirks and shortcomings — whatever they may be — they tend to have an easier time embracing the quirks and shortcomings of others. And that means they're incredibly open-minded and nonjudgmental.
"People like to be around those they do not feel judged by and who make them feel good about themselves," Reimer says. "'Cool' people have a contagious, positive energy." And that's something we can all put forth into the world, by practicing self-acceptance.
10They Can Find Meaning In Anything
When you're hanging out with someone who you think is cool, it's pretty hard to feel bored. And that's because they can make even the most mundane moments feel special. "We are intrigued by them because ... they can turn a not so rare or unusual experience into something engaging," author and licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula tells Bustle. "They are also quite good at finding meaning and purpose in life — and again — that is a quest so many people are on. To see someone who has hit upon that — because it is a holy grail — makes them seem interesting."
11They Know What They Stand For
To be cool throughout your entire life, it's all about knowing what you stand for, and sticking to it. "If you want to be cool in a sustainable, authentic, and empowering way, the best path to that is to discover who you really are, what you really stand for, what your true gifts or talents are, and then to commit to cultivating them," integrative therapist Derek Rydall, author of THE ABUNDANCE PROJECT: 40 Days To More Wealth, Health, Love, And Happiness, tells Bustle. "The coolest people in history are those who decided to be themselves, accept themselves, and share their authentic and creative nature with the world without shame, apology, or explanation."
And even though that can be scary, it's a skill we can all cultivate. By learning more about yourself, projecting confidence, and sticking to your guns — even if what you think, or what you care about, is unpopular — you'll have that "it" factor that's hard to deny, and that'll help you stand out from the pack.