One simple question is the end all and be all to the art of keeping cool. But before we get into that, let’s begin by understanding how and why to apply it. There comes a time, or more likely many times, when one is faced with circumstances that try his or her patience, nerves, or confidence. If you're like me (i.e., a chronic over-thinker with a lot of emotions and/or character flaws, depending on who is talking), these events occur on a rather regular basis.
Throughout my childhood, I was a bully's dream. I reacted to anything and everything, and vehemently. My intense reactions to stressors were nothing less than self-destructive. As a college student, I realized the error of my ways.
When I was in middle school, my local public library had a used book sale every afternoon. (Actually, they probably still do, but that is irrelevant because this story is set in circa-2004) Quite often, I would stop by on a regular basis and impulse buy as many $1 to $2 books as I had money for.
One such book was called The Art of Keeping Cool.
No, it wasn't a self-help book. It was some little-known fiction novel. And I actually never read it so this piece is not about what I learned from this book. What it is about is this: The Art of Keeping Cool.
From my 20-some years of experience being part-firecracker, part-Energizer bunny, the most valuable lesson I have learned is The Art of Keeping Cool. I only became a novice in this art in the last, say, 18 months.
But this skill, and some yoga, has been correlated to an immense increase in my own personal happiness and in that of my amazingly tolerant family and friends, who no longer have to spend hours reassuring me that so-and-so was completely out of line or that X is probably not mad at me because I said I was going to that social gathering and then I didn't go.
I call it, Practicing Perspective (patent pending).
"What the..." you say, as you wonder why you're taking advice from a neurotic twenty-something.
But, seriously, it works.
Practicing perspective means when you start getting riled up --- frustrated, annoyed, angry, embarrassed, disappointed, worried, guilty, etc., etc., etc. --- you stop and think:
"Will I care about this in a week? Month? Year?"
If the answer is "no" to any of those questions then whatever it is is just not worth stressing over. Practicing perspective means keeping your eye on the big picture and adjusting where your emotional priorities lie accordingly.
It's a simple method that works wonders. I imagine an incredible amount of hours a day would be more productively spent all over the world if everyone would follow this method.
So just to recap:
In the event of a stressful situation...
1.) Take a deep breath
2.) Think "Will this matter in..."
a) One week?
b) One month?
c) One year?
If no, exhale, and move on.
Don't spend any further time worrying your pretty (or handsome) little head on it.
Your time can be better spent on worrying about all the things you answered "yes" to for options a, b or c!
Now go enjoy your life! Relax and keep cool with these activities: