Malcolm Gladwell always has a full plate, but he’s unbelievably calm when it comes to handling stress. The best-selling author, thinker and longtime New Yorker writer has talked about his 24-hour email rule and his trick for overcoming fear, but as it turns out, his entire mindset is focused on maintaining perspective and mitigating the anxiety of potentially stressful situations. When he joined Arianna Huffington on the Thrive Global Podcast, in partnership with iHeartRadio and Sleep Number, he explained how he does it.
“I think that a lot of the stress that people feel, they feel because they have put themselves at the center of their own universe,” he shared with Huffington. “When you remove yourself from that place, I think a lot of the pressure subsides,” he said. Gladwell grew up in a home that celebrated religious traditions, and as an adult, he finds meaning in the practice of thinking of the world outside of ourselves. For him, it all comes down to maintaining perspective under pressure, and taking the focus off of yourself. “That is the single most important thing I think human beings can do,” he shared.
The writer also notes that when it comes to productivity, a little preparation goes a long way. Gladwell said he’s a “precrastinator,” and his prepared mindset helps him avoid procrastination when facing a long to-do list. “I understand that certain things, certain responsibilities seem to loom so large in your imagination that they can be a little scary,” he explained, “But my response to that has always been that if you prepare properly for those events, then the stressfulness goes away.”
We all have our own ways of dealing with stress, and for Gladwell, there’s no question that his outlook on the world is shaped by his spiritual philosophies. And although he doesn’t often talk about spirituality, he says the role it has played in his life has allowed him to seek clarity, boost productivity, and help him remain calm in the process. “It is clarifying and liberating and uplifting,” he told Huffington. “That’s the simplest way I would describe the appeal of spirituality in my life.”