It’s late Friday afternoon and you feel a sense of pride and satisfaction. Throughout an enormously challenging week—rushing to finish a major proposal against incredible odds—you have managed to remain calm and collected. Leveraging both exercise and meditation, you have shifted over the past year from an anxious person to one who is much more grounded.
And then the phone rings. It’s your colleague, Bill. He’s extremely agitated. “The file you sent me is corrupted,” he blurts out. “I can’t even open the proposal, never mind send it to our client.”
You feel tonight’s dinner with friends slipping away. Your heart starts to pound. So does your head. Your sense of calm disappears.
What’s happened here is that you invested all your time and effort in practicing under ideal circumstances. You meditated when you had free time. You exercised when it was convenient. But you didn’t create a mindset that would guide you through a major upheaval.
Fortunately, there’s a simple additional step that has the potential to tremendously increase your ability to remain calm.
View every new stressor as a welcome test
Take whatever existing capability you have to stay calm and centered, and set an intention to improve your performance with each new test. That is, every new irritation becomes a tool for you to get better.
Ask yourself, “Can I stay calm when a driver cuts me off?” (Next time it happens, you’ll have a chance to win this challenge.)
“Can I stay calm when a client loses his or her temper at me?” (Welcome such an occurrence as an opportunity to grow and improve.)
Shift your perception of “bad news” from an unfortunate development to a much-needed test.
In other words, your goal becomes getting better and better at staying calm. When you combine this attitude with practices such as exercise and meditation, you vastly increase your ability to stay calm, no matter what.