The Very Simple Guide to Chilling Out

by Henrik Edberg

Images: / CC BY 2.0

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”

George F. Burns

One good life skill is to be able to chill out. To be calm in negative situations and not overreact about all kinds of things. Or invent big, big problems in your mind – or create them in your world as you drag other people in through arguments – by making mountains out of molehills.

By being able to chill out when needed to you will:

  • Have a lot less stress, worry and pointless conflicts with other people.
  • Waste less of your time on things that aren’t really that useful.
  • Attract what you are. To be able to draw people who are more relaxed and positive about life into your life then you have to be that person yourself. People like to hang out with people who are like them (because it’s comfortable, because it brings more fun and success, because people have 24 hours in a day and so choices need to be made). Being someone that can be cool and relaxed about things is a positive and attractive social quality for any kind of relationship.

So how do you do it?

Well, here are four good tips:

1. Ask yourself if this even really matters.

By asking yourself the wrong questions you can make any little thing into a huge problem. By asking yourself better questions you can see things from a more helpful perspective.

  • Who cares? Very simple. Asking yourself this makes you realize that no, this isn’t a big deal to fuss or worry about.
  • Will this matter 5 years from now? If you ask yourself this question you will discover that if you put something into a more healthy perspective then few things matter that much.

2. Get a life.

If you find yourself sitting around too much and not having enough to do then it’s very easy to get stuck in thought loops and go into a downward spiral. Simply by filling your life with more fun activities and people you can become a lot more relaxed and less prone to overreacting about the little things.

So spend less time analyzing life and more time living and exploring it in whatever way you’d like. By doing so you are also often confronted with having to expand your comfort zones and perhaps face a fear. This leads to better self confidence and less fretting about if you can handle things that may come up.

3. What would someone else do?

This is a good way to find a new and more useful perspective. You simply ask yourself what someone else would do in your situation.

Maybe you ask yourself:

  • What would Winnie the Pooh  do?
  • What would James Bond do?
  • What would mom or dad do?

The point is to play around and find a new perspective and drag yourself out of your current negative, stressed and confused headspace and see things in another light. Just doing that can often help you to calm down, realize that this isn’t a huge deal and help you to find a solution that you can apply.

4. Remember to keep things extremely simple.

At the very top of the whiteboard on my wall I have written down: “Keep things extremely simple”. This is a very useful thing to remind yourself of throughout any day. Whenever I feel I am making a thing bigger or more complicated than it is or I simply become confused or negative in some way I can look at the wall (or remember that sentence if I’m not at home) to help guide my thoughts back into a constructive and calm place.

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Sarah February 15, 2010 at 4:38 pm

I just love this post. This is so helpful, thank you!

Michelle @ Following Your Joy February 15, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Love your idea of keeping things extremely simple. It’s amazing how good we can be at making the smallest of things…very complex! I am certainly a fan of chilling out. And the best way for me to be calm and not overreact is to get out of my head (where I try to analyze and figure things out)…and get back into my heart or my gut, which is always where love–and my truth–reside. This requires me to pause and b-r-e-a-t-h-e, and then I know everything is going to be okay.

Suzanne February 15, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Something I do is to take me out of the situation altogether. As I watch and hear things unfold, one of two things usually happens: A) The other senses come out to play as well and that sensory increase divert my attention from all the stuff my mind was doing (stressing, worrying, judging, assuming, etc.) or B) Without reacting to what’s going on so strongly in a “me, me, me” way, clarity develops. I begin seeing other people as like me (having ups and downs, experiencing emotional reactions, living based upon their past experiences, etc.)

Shifting my awareness shifts my perspective. And, suddenly and somewhat amusingly, the other stuff just doesn’t matter anymore.

Eduard @ Ideas With A Kick February 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Niceee :)

And I suppose the very very very simple guide to chilling out is: Stop taking thinks so seriously!

Clinton Skakun February 15, 2010 at 10:32 pm

In Magic of Thinking Big there’s a chapter that talks about this. The question to ask your self, similar to what you have up there is, “What would an important person do?” Good question to ask when petty things get in your way.


Travis February 15, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Wonderful post! What a great blog (first time visiting).

What I enjoy most about this post is its pointed simplicity. My favorite line: “Spend less time analyzing life and more time living and exploring it in whatever way you’d like.” Growth comes first and foremost through experience, and when you’re able to chill out and see the big picture, you’re much more likely to go after them.

Jenny February 16, 2010 at 12:48 am

I love your blog! I think you are awesome!! :D Keep up the great work!!!

Steve @Life Change For You February 16, 2010 at 1:27 am

This is what I would call positive thinking! It is the ability to look at life and decide how best to deal with it, no matter what! That is the way to chill out!

J.D. Meier February 16, 2010 at 4:49 am

It’s a great life skill and I think “What would xyz do?” is a powerful and proven technique for changing perspectives and mindsets.

Dan @ Anxiety Support Network February 16, 2010 at 5:30 am

Good tips, and these will all help your life! Chilling out is an idea that gets lost in modern Western society because we always have to be on the go, and I’m guilty of falling into this trap at times too. Another way of relaxing can be to exercise regularly. Regular exercise produces a general feeling of relaxation and contentment a few minutes after you have stopped exercising, and the effects can last for several days at a time. It’s never a bad idea to chill out – a great reminder post!

Hilary February 16, 2010 at 10:29 am

Hi Hendrik .. you are so right – being happy, being relaxed, reflecting a laissez faire attitude (which being totally switched on) .. encourages others to be with you. You’re the one that matters – not others .. what will matter to you in 5 years time. I agree –involve yourself in something that you enjoy, and/or will help others .. even just going for a walk – can change your thinking. As you so rightly say – keep it so simple, just do and move forward slowly and surely – thank you ..

Henri February 17, 2010 at 11:07 am

I really like the powerful “will this matter five years from now?” and can’t help but ask myself this question everyday. Another powerful trick i use is look at the memories i like the most and figure out the context in which they were born.
It actually seems that most of my important decisions were not that “rational” but much more “spontaneous” (like a pop up on a web page so to speak). Yesterday’s memories aren’t made of yesterday’s thoughts. I can’t remember what got my mind busy five years ago but i can remember having a “spontaneous” decision which is now a great memory of mine.

Give us powerful stuff to read.
Kick our minds !


Laura February 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Very interesting and helpful. Thanks!

aDeeb February 17, 2010 at 8:12 pm

A guide to chilling out?
I need one to stop doing that!

Nacho Jordi February 18, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Great post. I specially like #3. I think it is related in a way with the psychological technique of role playing, which is very good to heal traumas and relations. But besides, it is playful! I think sometimes it is we ourselves who block the way to the solutions, by taking things too seriously. Next time I feel anxious, I’ll ask to myself: “what would Yogi bear do?”

Raj February 18, 2010 at 7:32 pm


keeping yourself occupied is important, An empty mind is satan’s best friend :)

i completely agree that less time should be spent thinking and more time must be spent in actually doing the stuff that really matters

Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills February 18, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Hey Henrik, these are some really useful points that have a real impact on the feeling of our life. When I was younger a very mellow friend used to tell me, “you just need to let it go.” My response was usually “let go of what?” It took years to figure it out. This information could really shorten the learning curve for anyone needing to chill. Thanks!

legolas February 19, 2010 at 9:16 am

Hi Henrik,

Thank you so much for this very wonderful post. Really liked your idea about “Keep Things Extremely Simple”.

Thank you once again..!!!

Henrik Edberg February 19, 2010 at 11:54 am

Thanks for all the great comments and insights! :)

Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. February 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Humans are amazing! We can turn the tiniest thing into a big issue just by talking it up bigger and bigger. I observe these conversations in the beauty shop as the operators and customers complain about things such as a detour that’s been set up while the city improves the streets. Instead of being grateful that we live in a beautiful area where our streets, traffic signals, and landscaping are well maintained, they waste precious time and breath turning it into a negative.

You have shared in this post the secrets to happiness. They are not secrets because they are unknown, but because they are under-utilized. Thanks once again for reminding us of what is so easily accessible.

Lindsey Petersen February 21, 2010 at 10:07 pm

YES! Avoid stress. That does not mean not to take chances or to do things of importance, it means not to take yourself too seriously. One can live an eventful life relatively stress free. A happy life!
Lindsey Petersen

Shiela February 23, 2010 at 7:16 pm

We get so caught up at times in everything that is happening around us. Knowing what is happening around us is not nearly as important as what we think. In other words, what’s happening IN us is much more important than what’s happening around us.
To pause is a powerful state, it allows us to calmly look at what is.

Bradford Smith March 1, 2010 at 11:47 am

I agree with everything here. Especially “keep things simple”, that would have to be one of the harder aspects. Keeping things uncluttered and clear around the home is a HUGE difference in staying chilled out as well. Nothing better to start your day with than waking up and the place is clean. Helps to start the day in the right, stress free frame of mind.

Christopher March 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Thank you so much for this very wonderful post. We get so trapped up at times in the whole lot that is happening around us. Knowing what is occurring around us is not almost as vital as what we believe.
Christopher Duncan

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