How to stay calm when you know youll be stressed Daniel Levitin
A few years ago,I broke into my own house. I had just iven home, it was around midnightin the dead of Montreal winter, I had been visiting my friend,Jeff, across town, and the thermometer on the front porchread minus 40 degrees and don't bother askingif that's Celsius or Fahrenheit, minus 40 is where the two scales meet it was very cold.
And as I stood on the front porchfumblingmy pockets, I found I didn't have my keys. In fact, I could see themthrough the window, lying on the dining room tablewhere I had left them. So I quickly ran aroundand tried all the other doors and windows, and they were locked tight. I thought about calling a locksmith at least I had my cellphone, but at midnight, it could take a whilefor a locksmith to show up,
and it was cold. I couldn't go back to my friendJeff's house for the night because I had an early flightto Europe the next morning, and I needed to getmy passport and my suitcase. So, desperate and freezing cold, I found a large rock and I brokethrough the basement window, cleared out the shards of glass, I crawled through,
I found a piece of cardboardand taped it up over the opening, figuring thatthe morning,on the way to the airport, I could call my contractorand ask him to fix it. This was going to be expensive, but probably no more expensivethan a middleofthenight locksmith, so I figured, under the circumstances,I was coming out even. Now, I'm a neuroscientist by training and I know a little bitabout how the brain performs under stress.
It releases cortisolthat raises your heart rate, it modulates aenaline levels and it clouds your thinking. So the next morning, when I woke up on too little sleep, worrying about the holethe window, and a mental notethat I had to call my contractor, and the freezing temperatures,
and the meetings I had upcomingEurope, and, you know, with allthe cortisolmy brain, my thinking was cloudy, but I didn't know it was cloudybecause my thinking was cloudy. (Laughter) And it wasn't until I gotto the airport checkin counter, that I realized I didn't have my passport. (Laughter)