Anxiety Versus Excitement From Author Sam Sheridan

The following is an excerpt from The Fighter’s Mind by Sam Sheridan. The book is largely about the mentality that fighters (and other competitors, from chess prodigies to ultramarathoners) create in their approach to their sports. In this excerpt, the author is interviewing noted wrestler and mixed martial arts great Randy Couture, when something Randy says hits home with the author. The author then relates an example of his own experience as a writer.

Randy went into one of his favorite topics. “I started thinking about the differences between being nervous and being excited — they’re very similar, and one has negative connotations. Nervousness means something bad is happening and you’re not enjoying it, and being excited makes you smile, you love what you’re doing and good things are happening.”

I had gone through a similar experience years ago, when I first thought about being a writer. I was anxious about the future, about not knowing where I was going to be living in three or four months, never having a salary. I realized that I couldn’t do that — not if I wanted to be a writer. I couldn’t live in a state of anxiety, it had to be excitement. I tell that to friends or people that I meet who want to be writers or artists, anybody who wants to do something different, a job without security. Don’t let it be anxiety; let that uncertainty generate excitement. If you can’t make that switch you shouldn’t be a writer, or an artist, or a fighter. You won’t enjoy it.

There have been plenty of scientific studies that show how laughter and being relaxed reduces stress hormones and performance inhibitors. Smiling changes our brain.

The above excerpt appears on page 138 of The Fighter’s Mind. For more information and to read more of what Sam has to say, check out his site at

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