Monday, February 23, 2009

Deliberate Calm

Heard an interview with Jonah Leher last week, talking about "deliberate calm."

It's part of the emergency training doctrine for pilots. In an op-ed, Leher wrote about its manifestation in the Hudson River splash-landing:

What, then, allows people like Sullenberger to make effective decisions in harrowing circumstances? How do they keep their fear from turning into panic? Scientists have found that the crucial variable is the ability to balance visceral emotions against a more rational and deliberate thought process, which is centered in the prefrontal cortex. This balancing act is known as metacognition -- a sort of thinking about thinking.

Pilots have a different name for this skill: They call it "deliberate calm," because staying calm under fraught circumstances requires both conscious effort and regular practice

I suspect those "visceral emotions" are the prelude to many inflicted injuries.

Suddenly awakening in the still of night to deal with the challenge of a crying baby isn't the same as landing an airplane in the Hudson, of course.

However, a bit of training that reminds parents of the importance of conscious effort and practice in retaining that balance when they awake couldn't hurt.

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