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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Debunking "Keep Calm": How a Little Anxiety Helps You Perform

May 28, 2014, 10:23 AM

What's the Latest?

If you have an upcoming interview or presentation in front of your colleagues, the best advice is not to "keep calm and carry on," despite popular wisdom. Harvard business researchers say that stoking your anxiety can create an infectious enthusiasm among your audience. In fact, anxiety and excitement amount to the similar emotional states. "Both emotions are high-arousal, signaled by a racing heart, sweaty palms, and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol." Studies show that people perform better when they assign those sensations a positive meaning, calling them "excitement," rather than "stress" or "anxiety."

What's the Big Idea?

In an experiment conducted by social scientist Alison Wood Brooks, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, individuals were asked to perform a "high-stress" activity like singing karaoke, giving a speech, or completing a difficult math problem. Participants who were instructed to read instructions on how to get excited before doing their task performed better than those who said they were feeling calm or anxious. "In the public-speaking experiment, independent judges found that excited people seemed more persuasive, competent, persistent, and confident."

Read more at Harvard Magazine


Debunking "Keep Calm": How ...

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