What is a calmer?

I’m co-teaching a class at Stanford called d.compress. The students are pitching their ideas for MobileCalm this week. MobileCalm is a design challenge dedicated to increasing states of calm within mobile technology users. So far, their ideas have been awesome.

But what is calm? Often we think of it as that feeling of sleepiness or relaxation….a feeling that we rarely experience during work. Well, we operationalize calm as ‘restful alertness’ or ‘a state where one is present and able to perform in a sustainable manner.’ It is a holistic way of being in which the mind and body are steady, alert, and optimally functional. We – our lab, our students – are designing for a state of being.

How do you design for that?

A preliminary step is understanding what creates calm. We refer to these as “calmers.” A calmer is a thing, thought, or behavior to induces calm. We’re keeping a collective calming journal to compile a list of calmers throughout the class. Our list is at 125 calmers. Things like: take a shower, close my eyes, breathe deeply, feel the sun on my face, run up the stairs, drink alcohol, chat with my mom, dance……

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