I want to help you not just survive, but THRIVE in these crazy times. Yes, it is an uncertain time and there are things that we won’t be able to control – but it doesn’t have to be an obstacle, it can be an opportunity.
For 7 weeks I am going to send you a daily dose of inspiration, because if we set our compass right, we can sail through this!
“Standing on the precipice, about to jump into something new, I often feel anxious. But if I pause and reflect, I realise it could equally be excitement that I’m feeling. When you see it as excitement it’s FUN.” – Sarah Wilson
Tip # 35: Flip anxiety to excited
Anxiety and excitement are almost identical biologically – we experience them in our bodies as basically the same thing, according to a slew of scientific studies. This is great news. It means that it takes very little to move from one to the other. Researchers call it ‘Anxiety Re-appraisal’ – I think of it as flipping from anxiety to excited.
Trying to shift from anxious to calm requires a huge transition in how we are thinking and what is going on in our brains and bodies. This takes time and can be very difficult. Also, the stimulated state that we are in when we are anxious can be very useful to us, with it’s heightened focus and energy. Calm may not be what we need at all right now – but nor is anxiety. Excitement takes the benefits of the stimulated state we are already in and shifts it into the positive.
If you feel anxious, you are very likely thinking about a future outcome that you care about, and imagining a scenario where it goes badly. Excitement builds when we imagine the ways it might go well. In anything we are working towards, we can either be focused on the thing we are moving towards or on the thing we are trying to avoid. The same tasks then take on a very different flavour. (For example, are you working towards creating a product that will make a big difference to people’s lives – or are you working to avoid losing the money you have invested. The action may be the same, but the motivation will bring a very different experience).
A Harvard University study showed that even just saying “I am excited”, when people were anxious, caused them to perform better in a range of tasks and to connect better with others.
Our emotions can be very contagious. By flipping your anxiety to excitement (or simply expressing excitement) you can support others who are feeling anxious too, helping them to reframe the stimulated and buzzy feeling they are having as excitement – an example of the mirroring effect we often talk about.
When you flip anxiety to excitement, you harness the energy of stress to propel you forward and to excel… and to have more fun along the way.
First We Make the Beast Beautiful, by Sarah Wilson
The Chinese believe that before you can conquer a beast, you must first make it beautiful.
Sarah Wilson first came across this Chinese proverb in psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison’s memoir An Unquiet Mind, and it became the key to understanding her own lifelong struggle with anxiety. Wilson, bestselling author, journalist, and entrepreneur has helped over 1.5 million people worldwide to live better, healthier lives through her I Quit Sugar books and program. And all along, she has been managing chronic anxiety.