We’ve all seen them: Keep calm and…

They’re everywhere. It might be quicker to show what hasn’t been ‘Keep calm’-ed than to show all the ones that have. It started in the Second World War and proved a powerful propaganda weapon against the threats of Germany. It wasn’t actually released to the public but it was made by the Ministry of Information. Here is the familiar Keep Calm and Carry On.

Keep Calm and Carry OnBut you know that of course. You might even be someone who’s been gifted or bought one of its spin-offs such:

Keep Calm and Call Batman

Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate

Keep Calm and Blog On

OK, I will then!

Psychology has things to say about so much we find humour in, sell, or just enjoy talking about. Sometimes, it’s in counter-intuitive ways too and here’s one for today by me:

Don’t get calm; get excited!

There was a fascinating article in Psychology Today. In 2012 researchers based at the University of Montreal discovered that women generally feel more anxious than men when hearing unwanted news. An woe betide the unfortunate so-and-so who tells someone else to: “Chill”, let alone: “Calm Down, Dear, it’s only a commercial.”

Harvard University conducted research with 63 men and 77 women. They were all asked to deliver a speech where they would be videoed and judged. Researchers discovered that those presenters who repeated to themselves: “I’m excited”, as opposed to: “I’m calm” gave presentations that were more engaging, persuasive, more relaxed and were longer. How we talk to ourselves about our feelings will dictate how we feel. Yes, thoughts dictate performance.

Further, rather than focus on what could go wrong, focus on: “I’m excited” thoughts. You can also send yourself “Get excited” messages. The point is to reframe your emotional state from ‘Oh no’ to ‘Oh Yes!’. This tends to address what could go right; the brain is very adept at helping you get there too so give it a helping hand with not so much keep calm but get excited.

To end, here’s a quote from The Harvard School Research by Alison Wood Brooks that sums up the power of getting excited:

Individuals can reappraise anxiety as excitement using minimal strategies such as self-talk (e.g., saying “I am excited” out loud) or simple messages (e.g., “get excited”), which lead them to feel more excited, adopt an opportunity mind-set (as opposed to a threat mind-set), and improve their subsequent performance.

Brooks, A.W. (Nov. 2013) Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety as Excitement, p 1