The Art of Not Panicking, Keeping Your Composure and How to Re-Write the Rules of Life

John Glenn“When America raced to send the first men into space, they trained the astronauts in one skill more than in any other: the art of not panicking.

When people panic, they make mistakes. They override systems. They disregard procedures, ignore rules. They deviate from the plan. They become unresponsive and stop thinking clearly. At 150 miles above Earth in a spaceship smaller than a VW, this is death. Panic is suicide.”

A quote from Ryan Holiday’s fascinating book

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

ObstacleDuring his orbit around earth, American astronaut John Glenn’s heart rate never went above 100 beats per minute. Consider that for a moment, he was in a tiny space ship miles and miles above our planet and he never lost his cool.

Every Day Work Day Panic and Anxiety

Flash to the average work week. Think about how some of us react to what happens throughout our day. Even some of the smallest challenges become ridiculously big obstacles (in our minds).

  • Our hearts begin to race while mind-ruminates and body tenses as we frustratingly fret over how to respond to a mean-spirited and snarky email from a co-worker.
  • Our stomach churning as we hold our breath before an important sales pitch presentation.
  • We run for the bar before we work the room at yet another after-hour “networking” event. Our minds not in the game and just going through the motions.

We become stuck, paralyzed by obstacles of and not of our own making. The daily struggle lies in turning trials into triumphs and the awful into opportunity. Want to dive deeper? Read more about the secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai here.

Pause, Breathe and Take a Moment to Compose Yourself

xanaxIf you have read this far, I would imagine that you are not rummaging through your bag for another .5 mg dose of Xanax, but looking for a healthier and more mindful way to deal with every day panic and anxiety.

Research shows meditation-style breathing can make you courageous,increase your attention span, and even boost happiness.

Take just five minutes each day to watch your breath go in and out. While you do so, try to remain patient. If you find your mind drifting, just slowly bring it back to focus. Meditation takes practice, but it’s one of the most powerful happiness interventions. Studies show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy. And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness, lower stress, even improve immune function.

What matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.

Ambition with Meaning

Lately I have been listening to many a friend and family member share their concern and desire to change they way they are living now, moving away from the driving demands of a 14 hour work day to a more purposeful, peaceful and calmer life. Yes ambition is necessary and can even be wonderful but ambition with meaning, well that shit is sacred.

Navigating your life with Poise, Grace and Power

Some of these more mindful millennials that I refer to have the resources to enjoy a ten day getaway to discover meditation and mindfulness on solitude retreats. A ten-day stint in a tree house in the jungles of Tulum, Mexico on Airbnb with water cleansing massages and sun basked mud masks.

air-conditioned-jungle-cabana-tulum-mexico12

I have noticed a huge movement of those waking up earlier in life to realize, “not my rules, not my purpose.”  The intention: Re-write the rules, make more room for meaning in their lives. Make money, but with pleasure.

Truth be told, you don’t need to go away and remove yourself from your environment to make a change. You don’t need to quit your job right way either. What you can do, is change your perception to what is happening around you right now and focus on designing a life filled with daily habits that are more conducive to a meaningful life.

Ground Control

It all starts with controlling our perception. When something is happening to us we need to ask, How am I perceiving this? What meaning am I giving it? It is really a horrific experience or is it an opportunity for growth?

I have a big secret to share. A vulnerable moment for me. I  use to suffer from severe anxiety, panic disorder and fear. Movement, meditation and mindfulness have become my daily dose of medication.

Curious, how are you managing your panic, your anxiety? How are you adding more meaning to your life? How are you re-writing the rules?

Your Standing Ovation

Mick Jagger Oakland 1969
Mick Jagger Oakland 1969

We have all had this anxious moment. The split-second before you post. You re-read your writing, watch your video for the 50th time, re-work a paint stroke or study your sketch and ask yourself- – Is this authentic enough?  Does it stand out in a sea of sameness? Is it “unique” enough for the world to appreciate?

Michael Port, Author of Steal the Show, said it brilliantly in an interview the other day.

You don’t have to be different to make a difference.

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Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life

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An inspiring read “Steal the Show” has great work and life performance advice.

In my mind, way too much cred has been given to creating “authentic” and original work in a “unique” way.  This thought can really stifle your creativity.  Worrying about the “authenticity” of your work will only blur your vision and mission. Instead, strive to create a higher caliber of work each day. Your best work. You see, the distinction is that you are already different from everyone else. You don’t need to focus on your authenticity, you are already unique, just as you are. Yes, you do stand out in a crowd, even if you do absolutely nothing.

It also really helps if what you are creating what truly inspires you. If you are bored doing it, then chances are someone else will be bored reading or watching it.

Driven to Perfection

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to tip toe to my grave safely. I want to take risks, chances, I want to soar through this life.

unicorn me

So I will let my fear be the fuel. The reality is, we all are afraid.

One of my favorite morning rituals is to listen to Brian Johnson’s Philosopher Notes. They are short, sweet, little bits of wisdom that can fuel your day. If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

In one of my favorite mini-classes, he mentions taking a deep breathe when fear freezes you. Thinking back on my daily meditation practice, everything I have been learning and last night’s Vinyasa Flow Yoga class I find it funny and ironic, that the simple act of breathing has become such a “thing” in my new found intentional life.  Who knew something so mindful and simple could help so much.

Listen to Brian’s 10 minute video  for more tips on how to move through your fears. “How to Conquer Your Fear in 30 Seconds.