Part of the deal with being a generally chill person is that it looks like you don’t care enough. Your true feelings are masked by an air of calm, cool, and collectiveness. It can be frustrating at times, but most people would never know it due to your tranquil façade. All that being said, I recommend it.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t care at all. I care a lot about a lot of things. But I just don’t feel the urge to make a big deal out of them, for the most part.
I’ve been friends and worked with people who are way skewed toward the Type-A end of the personality spectrum. It seems like an exhausting existence. They’d get into absurd altercations with people and I’d think, there’s no way that actually happened. I got along with them, so why would other people rub them the wrong way so much? What I’ve realized since is that I never posed a threat since I came across as unassuming to them. In a couple of cases, they were actively trying to manipulate me, which is why I’m not friends or colleagues with them anymore.
When I first met my wife Allison, she said that my laid-back demeanor helped calm her down. Our halcyon start has given way to more downs than ups of late. With a laundry list of stressors on our plate, our relationship too often takes a back seat to more pressing matters like, for instance, our four-year-old daughter with a disability. And there have certainly been times recently when I’ve driven her a bit crazy with my outwardly carefree comportment. Yet inwardly I deeply care.
My chillness derives from my reasonableness. I tend to think in odds, which is at least partially a carryover from playing a ridiculous number of poker hands over the years. If something has an extremely low likelihood of causing an issue, I’m probably not going to spend a ton of time and energy worrying about it. On the other hand, if something feels like it deserves my full attention, then I’ll dwell on it and stress until I figure it out.
But you wouldn’t know how stressed I am about it if you interact with me, precisely because of my chillness.
If you’re looking to increase your chill, try to calculate the odds of what’s causing you anxiety. It’s not an exact equation—more of a feeling. And with practice, you can dial it in over time.
Let’s say you’re worried about a deadline at work. You think if you miss it you might get reprimanded, or worse yet, fired. But how likely is that, really? Will one project delivered slightly late or perhaps not fully complete really warrant letting you go? Wouldn’t your boss rather you spend some extra time getting it right? Wouldn’t all the great work you’ve done beforehand earn you some leniency that you can cash in if you need to?
Most human actions are pain avoidance measures. When you feel the pain of hunger, you eat. When you feel the pain of loneliness, you text a friend. Worrying is our attempt to avoid pain in the future. It’s a normal thing to do, so it shouldn’t be eliminated from your life. But it can cause pain now without you realizing it’s even happening. And the more you do it, the more you run the risk of your worrying becoming a habitual thing that keeps you on edge unnecessarily.
It’s also important to not overdo it and completely suppress your emotions. This is a recipe for resentment and unexpected outbursts, which I’ve been guilty of before.
The key is to figure out how to temper your chill while also recognizing that you won’t always get it right. After all, you’re only human. Maybe don’t worry about it so much.
Thank you for being here.
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My chillness has been... well, just enough to get me in trouble. I tend to be extra chill in stressful situations too. Is it some kind of trauma response? I don't know. I had a very hectic childhood and I just kind of look at it as: I'm selective about what gets me worked up, because relatively speaking, most situations aren't worth the cortisol spike.
Anyway, I had a very not-chill boss straight out of college and it drove her crazy. I remember I started trying to kind of like, performatively stress out to keep my job. 0/10 do not recommend.