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Pi Of Life : Why Being Anxious Is Cool.

You are often told to stay happy. stay relax. And some of you (I am sure) even made new year resolutions to attend yoga classes, to smile more, to stay happy.
And that isn’t working. You are still anxious about your work, your startup, your relationships.
And let me tell you this – being anxious is just cool. It’s just okay.

..happy people are less persuasive.
If you want to persuade others, then you have to communicate your message in a detailed and concrete way. However, happy people tend to focus on the big picture at the expense of the tiny details. Consequently, their arguments are less nuanced and concrete [from the book, The Upside of Your Dark Side].

I definitely haven’t seen a very happy sales person – they need to be more anxious (though have a better control-on-actions-and-words).
Being anxious helps you stay focused. Being anxious helps you stay alert.

For starters, anxious people are far more vigilant than their peers. In part, it’s because anxiety stimulates the brain, thus making you more alert. Whereas non-anxious people tend to ignore ambiguous and even overt signs of potential danger, anxious people are highly attentive to these cues.
Not only do anxious people take greater notice, their anxiety also heightens perception:
For example, research has shown that people can see greater distances when they’re anxious, and even enjoy a sharper sense of hearing.

Angry Young Man
Stay Angry. Stay Coolish ! 🙂

I am not saying that being happy isn’t cool. But for those who are chasing happiness and are worried about being anxious, come out of the loop.
Stop chasing happyness and stop buying into those who ‘sell happyness’. Happiness is a state of mind (now, that’s gyaan!) and a better way to stay happy is to do small things – for instance, when I am totally stressed, I either ride my Enfield or cycle.
Having said that, do not underestimate the power of being anxious – most of the successful entrepreneurs are still anxious about their business. The biggest thing that one needs to realize is to separate long-term decision making and anxiousness.

you need an anxious person on your team’

Psychology researchers Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener note:

“you need an anxious person on your team,” because they serve as the “canary in the mine shaft,” alerting you to problems before your more optimistic team members even become aware of them. You need someone who will tell you when you are making a mistake.

This is a serious golden advice.
Be it hiring/forming new partnerships – you need to be aware and worried about the flipside. Focus on the positivity, but do not ignore ‘what can go wrong’. A lot of these will make a place in your legal agreements and save your a$$ during bad time (personal experience).
Happy people tend to block negativity (TV/bad news(papers)/media) etc etc, but the flip side is that they also block things that can go wrong – which translates to bad hiring decisions/bad partnerships.
Jeremy McCarthy who teaches ‘Positive Leadership’ shares a very interesting case study

In one of the spas that I managed, I pulled one of the more negative employees aside and asked for her help. She was the one most likely to be complaining about things to her colleagues in the break room so I said, “I can tell you really care about how things go around here, and you are holding us to a higher standard. I’d like you to help us get better. Can you start coming to our weekly management meeting and presenting us the biggest problems in the spa from the employees’ perspective along with proposed solutions?” I was taking the energy and passion that she clearly had, and trying to use it for good instead of evil. She became a huge asset to the team, a leader among her colleagues and helped us to be an even better place to work. [source]

To cut the long story, being anxious is cool and live with it. Enjoy it. And when worried, find your bullet and take a ride!
What’s your take?
[Pi of Life is a Saturday column where we talk about life, love, philosophy, design and everyting cool. If you want to contrbute, connect with me : ashish@nextbigwhat.com]

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