The eight subtle habits of the calmest people I know

Alex Mathers


I had a great childhood, but I was quick to anger and would often throw tantrums.

This reactivity manifested as fidgety overthinking and anxiety in later life.

It took years for me to see the connection between being overly reactive and quick to judge, and the distress I’d feel as a result.

I spent many years with a goal to live a calmer life as often as I remembered to go there. I studied calm people. I learned about Zen, spirituality and Eastern wisdom.

I practised in public.

Over time, I incorporated more calm. I’m not talking about a stoned, passive calm — rather an experience of living with more ease and more at peace.

Here’s what I learned about the calmest people, and what helped me the most:

1. Move daily.

At least a daily 20-minute walk or the exercise equivalent. There must be movement.

Like caged animals, humans do not fair well when we are sedentary for too long.

This includes self-imposed immobility that comes from rarely leaving the comforts of one’s living room.

2. Conscientiously physically slower.

When we slow down our movements and even how we talk physically, which we are all capable of doing, it’s like moving down a gear or two to match the speed of the present moment.

Agitated people are often a gear or two too fast. As such, life comes at them very quickly and they have to do more to process everything.

3. Don’t stray too far from nature.

John Muir, the naturalist, once said:

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

He was hinting at the power of nature to remind us to be conscious and to remember that we are one with it.

Sometimes a walk in a forest is all it takes to get us out of our heads and into our bodies again.