In Praise of Anxiety — ‘Anxiety May Lead to Excellence.’

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal describes recent research that discusses the benefits of anxiety in the workplace. That it can lead to really good performance and in fact excellence. Here are a few excerpts.

  • Over the past decade, research has also shown something that many scientists didn’t expect: higher levels of dopamine, the “feel good” hormone, when we’re anxious. 
  • Individuals who learned to reframe their anxiety as an advantage, compared with those who didn’t, performed better under pressure, were more confident and showed biological signs—steadier heart rates, lower blood pressure—of being focused and engaged. The study showed that when we believe anxiety is a benefit rather than a burden, our bodies follow suit and better prepare us to meet the challenges ahead.
  • A sense of purpose doesn’t mean some grand vision or a burning life mission. Purpose refers to the values and priorities that make us who we are and give our life meaning. 
  • That’s why it’s crucial to channel the benefits of anxiety, like persistence and hope, toward purpose. 
  • People who tended to pursue excellence over perfection in these exercises made mistakes, but they came up with more—and more original—answers.

“In Praise of Anxiety.” Wall Street Journal (May 7, 2022).