Deep Survival with Laurence Gonzales Everyday Survival: Losing Your Cool Makes You Stupid

Acting cool is not the same as being cool. As the head of training for the Navy SEALs once said, "The Rambo types are the first to go." Siebert wrote in his book The Survivor Personality that "combat survivors . . . have a relaxed awareness." People who are destined to be good at survival will get upset when something bad happens, but they will quickly regain emotional balance and immediately begin figuring out what the new reality looks like, what the new rules are, and what they can do about it. In the past few decades, technologies like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have allowed researchers such as Bruce McEwen at Rockefeller University to demonstrate that stress changes the shape and chemistry of the brain, resulting in trouble remembering, difficulty completing tasks, and altered behavior. In effect, losing your cool makes you stupid. Examine the way you handle yourself under pressure: Do you blow up when you’re stuck in traffic or when someone cuts you off? Are you able to accept failure philosophically and move on with resolve to do better next time? If you’re rejected—in love, in business, in sports—do you stew over it? Practice being calm in the face of small emergencies and you’ll be more prepared to deal with large ones.

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