Aug 102011

“Tranquilo” – Always Remain Calm

We live in stressful times, but in fairness to our ancestors, so did they.  Throughout history, plenty of sources of stress have been present to make life “interesting”.  Granted, those stressors may have changed over time and perhaps multiplied, given the complexity of the world we live in today, but they have always been present.

So if there always have been and always will be plenty of sources of stress and anxiety in our lives, the question becomes how to deal with them.  In my experience, it’s useful to have a “go to” mantra or two for the moments when things get very tough and stressful.  Recently I wrote about another mantra I use for potentially fear-invoking situations that if not counteracted would lead to an amygdala-activated panic response.  That mantra was a Spanish expression, “sin miedo,” which means “without fear”.  It is a very common expression in Spanish and depending how you feel about it, can also become more of a general philosophy of life.

Another Spanish expression I like to invoke as a mantra in stressful situations, but usually not to the level of a “sin miedo moment,” is “tranquilo”.  Its literal translation is “calm,” but when you say it to someone in a stressful moment, you are telling them not to worry, or to remain calm.  It is used a lot in Spanish and Portuguese and I’ve adopted it as another mantra that I use like “sin miedo,” but usually in more common everyday circumstances.  If you have familiarity with Spanish and Portuguese, or you simply like the sound of these words, try them out for yourself.  If not, find your own “go to” expression or words that can serve as mantras you can use to keep yourself calm in stressful situations.  Having lived in Brazil and Costa Rica and having done business throughout Latin America my whole career, these words have special meaning for me and I’ve heard them a ton.  You may have others that have a great deal of meaning for you and quickly evoke the calm, relaxed feeling that is the objective.

Why is it important to have a mantra and other mechanisms to keep you “tranquilo” in moments when fear or anger may otherwise take over?  The answer is simple.  Usually, when fear or anger immediately precede or dominate your behavior, the person you harm most is yourself.  An obvious exception is when the “fight or flight” fear response is activated in situations that are truly life-threatening and this activation benefits you.  But the reality is that usually, even in such situations, which hopefully for you as for most are few and far between, it’s often very much to your advantage to remain calm and react rationally.

The mantra(s) I’m encouraging you to develop are intended more for situations where you perceive danger, but you perceive it in an exaggerated way that only serves to skew your judgment and hinder your performance.  In such situations, it’s useful to have pre-thought-out, automatic mechanisms for getting back on track and moving quickly away from your irrational and unnecessary fear or anger.

So, “tranquilo”!  Relax a bit.  Keep it all in perspective.  Stay calm and level-headed in stressful situations and you will see your performance and likely your ongoing level of happiness improve considerably.  Approach life “sin miedo” and take things in stride so you stay on track to reach all the goals you have set for yourself, while at the same time keeping a smile on your face. J

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Paul Morin


  • Frustration is THE problem in my country. Whenever you want to do something positive here, burocracy is there to stop you, which produces anger. So I try to sing Hakuna Matata. It sometimes works. I should be singing all day these days…

  • Thanks, Maria. That’s great — I will have to remember that one — Hakuna Matata. I should have known that you’d have a great frame of reference coming up with good mantras, given your creativity in using movies and other media to teach languages. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Argentina, so I know what you are referring to, but honestly, the frustration you mentions exists in great quantities here (U.S.) too. Especially these days… Paul

  • Yes, I know. But you live in a country with a history of success. Our only achievement is that we survive no matter what!

  • There is something to be said for surviving no matter what! 🙂

  • Yes, creativity! LOL

  • Thank, Paul, must work on relaxation. Good article, and brilliant blog desig, if I may add. Good to know you, thanks for reaching out.


  • Thanks, Saul. Likewise, excellent to meet you. Thanks for your comments regarding this article and the blog design. I look forward to staying in touch.

  • Great blog post and a great reminder to just relax. Sometimes being in the business world means you’re constantly on the go and sometimes it’s difficult to remember that you just need to stop and breathe a bit! Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi, Fred. Agreed — sometimes it’s easier said than done … that’s why I’m a big advocate of a “mantra” or some “go to” phrase that you don’t even need to think about in high pressure situations. It’s great if it’s something that has so much symbolic and emotional meaning to you that it’s “just there” and you can call on it as needed. Thanks for your comments and as you said (paraphrasing), let’s all just stop and take a deep breath and relax. 🙂 Paul

  • Margaret (Peggy) Herrman

    Terrific! just finished reading, just after meditating & a tad of pilates (I REALLY need to get back to both. very rusty @ both, but a little at a time).

    I like the idea of developing mantras. I do that when meditating to calm the monkey, list making chatterers in my brain. It is a neat way to pull back to wisdom/core/self and let the limbic go out to play.

    I also note that calm is good most of the time. passion & anger also have their place (as you know). problem is that anger, especially angry rhetoric has supplanted thoughtful dialog. We tend to swing from one extreme to another. Now would be a great time to come back to the center & to actually reason together. Our problems are way too complex for shouting. Just drives valuable resource people into their corners (a boxing ring is a good metaphor).

    I’m also reminded of Dante’ assignment of folks who stay quiet in times of peril, especially when the weak among us are in peril. Social justice and all that 🙂

    Hummmm sounds like Doc Peg to me LOL

  • Good stuff, Peggy. You must have gotten the synapses firing even more than usual with pilates and meditation …. that’s great. 🙂

    I agree that passion and anger certainly have their place. As you point out though (paraphrasing), the problem with anger is that once it reaches a certain level, it tends to block out most if not all access to constructive thinking and attempts at arriving at a solution. If the anger can be managed (and/or mediated), it can be very effective in calling attention to the seriousness of the matter from at least one party’s perspective. But as you know only too well, anger is a tough emotion to manage and keep from becoming divisive and an impediment to constructive dialog.

    Thanks for your comments, as always. I wish you the best in your renewed meditation and pilates efforts :-).

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  • WG Cinema

    Meditation really helps to always keep oneself “tranquilo” and when doing it long enough across time it does take away the fear and allows one to live “sin miedo”.

  • Meditation is something I’ve always wanted to learn more about. I’ve read about it a little and spoken about it with my sister, who I think has used it quite a bit. I think we all meditate to some extent or other, but it’s just that most have no idea how to do it very deliberately and effectively. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Robert Minotti

    Hi Paul, great article and great blog, thanks for the good reading!
    I like to use the “Circle of Influence” as much as possible, if I can’t change something or have little to no impact; I remind myself of the Circle of Influence and move on! I’ve never really meditated, but I talk to myself a lot and repeat certain declarations that I’ve used over the years, really helps. I also find that helping others to calm themselves and reason, strengthen me even more.
    Thanks again

  • Robert, thanks for your comments. “Circle of Influence” sounds like an excellent mantra that could have quite a calming effect. I also like your last point about helping others. It is rewarding in and of itself, but it also often has the collateral benefit of giving us more confidence when we need additional strength in a certain situation. Paul

  • WG Cinema

    A quick and easy to follow instruction on how to meditate:

    – Sit down on a comfortable chair and close your eyes
    – Breathe in and repeat in your mind the word: Sooooo
    – Breathe out and repeat in your mind the word: Hummm
    – Follow your breath into stillness of the mind

  • Thanks for making this so simple, Arturo. Meditation can be so useful for finding and maintaining calmness. I hope some readers will give your technique a try.