I define calm as creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.

When I think about calm people, I think about people who can bring perspective to complicated situations and experience their feelings without reacting to heightened emotions.

… [W]hether calm is a practice or something more inherent, there are behaviors specific to cultivating and maintaining calm that include a lot of self-questioning. The process seems to be centered on breath, perspective taking, and curiosity:

1. Calm is an intention. Do we want to infect people with more anxiety, or heal ourselves and the people around us with calm? As the psychologist and writer Harriet Lerner says, 'Anxiety is contagious. Intensity and reactivity only breed more of the same. Calm is also contagious. Nothing is more important than getting a grip on your own reactivity.'

2. Do we match the pace of anxiety, or do we slow things down with breath and tone?

3. Do we have all the information we need to make a decision or form a response? What do we need to ask or learn?

As someone who has to work on calm as a practice rather than a trait, I’ve shortened this to two quick questions I ask myself when I feel fear, panic, or anxiety rising:

Do I have enough information to freak out? The answer is normally no.

Will freaking out help? The answer is always no.

Brene Brown in Atlas of the Heart