I define calm as creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.
When I think about calm people, I think about people who can bring perspective to complicated situations and feel their feelings without reacting to heightened emotions like fear and anger.
As psychologist and writer Harriet Lerner says,
"Anxiety is extremely contagious, but so is calm too."
The questions becomes...
Do we want to infect people with more anxiety, or heal ourselves and the people around us with calm?
If we choose to heal with clam, we have to commit to practicing calm.
Small things matter.
For example, before we respond we can count to ten or give ourselves permission to say,
"I am not sure. I need to think about this some more."
It is also extremely effective to identify the emotions that are most likely to spark your reactivity and then practice non-reactive responses.
For me, breathing is the best place to start.
Just taking a breath before I respond slows me down.
I immediately start spreading calm. For myself and for others around me.
Sometimes I actually think to myself,
"I am dying to freak out here!
Do I have enough information to freak out?
Will freaking out help?
The answer is always no.
The Gifts of Imperfection