It’s tough to define 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 motorcyclist on an open road. For others, it’s the lead singer of a band, an English major surrounded by books, or a really chic neighbor who always burns the best incense. These people are wildly different, and yet they can all be considered cool because they project something special — a certain je ne sais quoi — that makes them stand out.
Even more important than what someone does or how they dress is how they act. “A ‘cool’ person is generally someone whose attitude and behaviors are composed but seen as uniquely their own,” says clinical psychologist
Dr. Julie Gurner.
Coolness is also about
accepting who you are, showing up authentically, being kind to everyone — the list goes on. “These qualities can change the way in which you not only relate to others but also how you perceive the world,” explains Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist. “It will also take on a bidirectional effect where you will be able to become invigorated by this perspective both internally and externally.”
feel uncool or unconfident, no worries. “Just fake it ’til you make it,” Gurner says. “It sounds very cliché 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.” Read on for more traits that are associated with “ coolness,” according to experts.
Cool People Put Everyone At Ease
You know you’re in the presence of a cool person when you feel at ease. The reason? “Cool people are
present, focused, and interested in those around them,” Romanoff says. They listen, they try to understand — and as a result, they help everyone feel seen and understood.
To steal these vibes for yourself, Romanoff suggests being fully present in the moment and appreciating the fact you get to share it with the people around you. They’ll remember forever that you made them feel valued and important.
They Bring Their Own Energy
While it’s often necessary to change just a
little bit to fit a situation — you might be extra serious around your boss, for instance — cool people typically bring their own unique energy everywhere they go.
According to Romanoff, these people have realized there’s a middle ground between changing their emotional temperature to mimic those around them and only
being their true self in isolation.
“The truth is there is much more nuance between these options and it is possible to be attuned to others while still bringing in your own energy that might not match others,” she says. “The core of this trait is that the person is able to be
confident in themselves and risk being different.”
They Don’t Apologize For Being Themselves
Cool people also don’t feel the need to apologize for their unique energy. While that doesn’t mean they’re confident 100% of the time, Romanoff says cool folks are always trying to radically accept themselves.
“Being yourself and taking risks means exposing parts of who you are without knowing
how others will receive you,” Romanoff says. “The alternative is subtlety asking for permission from others to reveal who you are and what you like. This will change how you experience situations and how others experience you, and will ultimately lead to a more liberating outlook.”
Effortlessly cool peeps tend to give off independent vibes. “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.” By learning more about yourself, and doing things to gradually build your self-esteem, you can start to be more independent, too.
They’re Rarely Fazed
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Even when life throws curveballs their way, the coolest of the cool tend to roll with the punches. 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 worried about everything,” Bennett says. “They see the big picture and know that most things don’t matter.” Or, at least, that getting upset doesn’t change anything. It all goes back to that confident, collected energy that’s so nice to be around.
They Aren’t Afraid To Try New Things
Because cool people take the time to assess situations before overreacting or giving up, they tend to seem more capable than everyone else — even if they aren’t. In other words: “They make things seem effortless,”
Jose Ramirez, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor, tells Bustle.
Whether it’s changing a tire, playing the drums for the first time, or attempting a complex recipe, they take a deep breath and figure it out. “They represent the things we are afraid to do or try for ourselves,” Ramirez says. “It tends to be this strong, almost blind confidence that makes people seem cool to others.”
They Don’t Try To Impress Anyone
Another key component to coolness is a lack of desire to impress, board-certified life coach
Esther Gonzalez-Freeman, BCC tells Bustle. Instead, cool people have a more casual approach: They do things because they’re genuinely interested, not because they think “omg, this will make me look cool.” It’s a vibe that makes a big difference in how they’re perceived.
They Have A Natural Swagger
Just to really drive the point home, let’s talk about confidence again. “When someone is rocking confidence, they seem cool to others,” author and confidence expert
Heather Monahan tells Bustle. “They don’t seem concerned with what anyone’s saying or thinking. Not only is that cool, but it’s also incredibly attractive.”
As you practice building up your confidence, you’ll stand differently, enter rooms differently, hold yourself differently at parties. (Remember, it’s all about faking it ‘til you make it.) Or, you’ll own the fact that you have zero chill, and everyone will find it endearing.
They Have Hobbies They Care About
It doesn’t matter what it is — drawing, running marathons, knitting, collecting too many plants — most cool people have
fun interests and hobbies, Ritu Reimer, LPC, a licensed therapist and coach, tells Bustle. Oh, and they’re passionate about them.
The reason having a hobby is “cool” is because passion is intriguing. Cool people are interesting because they’re
always learning something new, and thus always have something to talk about.
They Aren’t Judgmental
Since cool people try to embrace their quirks — whatever they may be — they tend to have an easier time embracing the quirks and shortcomings of others. As a result, they’re incredibly open-minded and nonjudgmental, which goes back to the idea of putting others at ease.
“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
They Make Even The Most Mundane Moments Fun
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,”
Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. “Cool people are quite good at finding meaning and purpose in life.”
This is why your coolest friend is always jumping into lakes, pulling you into bookstores, and generally cracking jokes or making interesting observations. While coolness isn’t always about having energy, it is about taking an interest in life and — again — being willing to try something new.
They’re Down For Deep Convos
These kinds of people tend to be open books, too — they don’t keep things to themselves. “The prevailing belief is that to be cool, you have to be distant, remote, mysterious, and impossible to fathom,” says author
Dr. Susan Shumsky, who notes that cool people are instead usually willing to talk about what’s on their mind and dive deeper than surface-level conversation. To steal this trait for yourself, try opening up more about the inner workings of your mind. It helps build intimacy with everyone around you, and that bond will always seem cool.
They’re Always Learning
Cool people never stop learning, and often put effort not only into getting to know others but in improving themselves as well. “The most fascinating people are those who are fascinated,” Shumsky says. “They are people who are curious and interested in other people and in things they are learning and discovering. To be cool, be engaged.”
They Look For Ways To Connect
Movies and books often portray cool people as part of an exclusive group, but nothing could be further from the truth. “Cool people genuinely want to know everyone in the room and authentically connect with those people,” life coach and therapist
Christina Hathaway, MAS, MFT tells Bustle. Whether it’s their neighbor, coworker, or a stranger on a bus, they want to learn from them and form a genuine connection.
They also look for ways to help, Hathaway says. Cool people genuinely want to improve the lives of those around them, whether it’s by volunteering, cleaning up after a get-together, or simply watching a friend’s dog. You’ll catch them doing it all.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway of coolness is its foundation in
authenticity. “People that are effortlessly cool do not try to be anyone but exactly who they are,” Katie Pankonin, LMSW, a licensed mental health therapist, tells Bustle. “It doesn’t matter if their qualities are traditionally quirky, weird, or different — they simply radiate their natural personalities, no matter how unconventional.”
The best part? These qualities are available, in some way, shape, or form, to everyone. By learning more about yourself, projecting confidence, and accepting those around you, you’ll have an “it” factor that’s hard to deny.
Dr. Julie Gurner, clinical psychologist
Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, clinical psychologist
David Bennett, certified counselor
Jose Ramirez, LMHC, licensed mental health counselor
Esther Gonzalez-Freeman, BCC, board-certified life coach
Heather Monahan, author and confidence expert
Ritu Reimer, LPC, a licensed therapist and coach
Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist
Dr. Susan Shumsky, author
Christina Hathaway, MAS, MFT, life coach and therapist
Katie Pankonin, LMSW, licensed mental health therapist