Members in the Media
From: The Wall Street Journal

The Calming Power of Rituals

Have you ever tried telling yourself to calm down—perhaps while half-panicked, staring at yourself in the mirror of a restroom next to the conference room where you’re leading a meeting in two minutes…one minute…? Or have you ever suggested to your irate significant other, “You need to calm down”? How did that work out?
It might seem as if a straightforward reminder should be effective. We are surrounded by motivational mantras (“Keep Calm and Carry On”) aimed at keeping us placid. But those efforts are trying to suppress a strong human mechanism known as arousal—a psychological and physical state of high tension that includes the activation of the limbic and sympathetic nervous systems. Imagine telling yourself to “calm down” while a bear chases you, as you experience an arousal cocktail of stress and perhaps see your life flash before your eyes.

No ritual has the power to make rock stars or savants out of us. We still have to contend with the realities of aptitude and proficiency and the discipline of daily practice. But rituals can give us a way to manage our nerves, dial into the skills we’ve worked so hard to achieve and give us that elusive something more that allows us to step into the spotlight and shine.

Read the whole story (subscription may be required): The Wall Street Journal

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