Michael Bay life lessons: Stress management

What the films of the "Transformers" auteur can teach you about dealing with pressure and everyday hassles

Published July 13, 2011 7:14PM (EDT)

What you can learn from "Transformers": It could always be worse.
What you can learn from "Transformers": It could always be worse.

There may be some dispute over the quality of Michael Bay's directorial skills, but no one can deny that the man has a certain panache. With films about killer robots, killer comets and Peal Harbor, Bay's oeuvre may be full of violence, but they're also full of learning moments for the neurotically inclined.

Better than Tony Robbins or a self-help book, Michael Bay's movies are an advanced class on dealing with life when it hands you lemons. Lemons that are actually grenades and you have two minutes to deactivate before the whole country goes ka-BLAM!

Welcome to Michael Bay's stress management guide. Now take a deep breath, and go to your calm place...

Lesson 1: Keep your mantras simple

Everybody's had those days when life seems determined to weigh you down. While you might be inclined to give up and throw a pity party complete with a "Teen Moms" marathon and a bucket of ice cream, it's good to remember those wise words of Yoda: "Do or do not. There is no try." Though if you don't like taking advice from a short green guy, how about Sean Connery, who paraphrases the famous "Star Wars" line to a whiny Nicholas Cage in "The Rock."

For ladies, just substitute "prom queen" with "hottest guy in the theater department."

Lesson 2: Keep things in perspective

Lost your job? Got dumped by your significant other? Maxed out your credit cards? I'm totally with you: Those things can be major stressors. But remember, it's not the end of the world. Even in Michael Bay movies, where the price of failing is usually an apocalyptic scenario, characters are able to keep things light with a few quippy one-liners. And if the situation does require a bit of gravitas, you can always hang up the phone, turn to your partner, and express how real the shit just got.

 See, don't you feel better?

Lesson 3: Make sure you have your facts straight

Sometimes the most stressful part of a situation is not being exactly clear about what's going on. Maybe those emails from your boss are confusing, or it turns out you are a human clone, created to have its organs harvested for rich people. Either way, the scariest part is not knowing! So make sure that you find an expert (usually Steve Buscemi) that can talk you through the stuff going over your head.

Lesson 4: Never let them see you sweat

Sure, on the inside you might be feeling like a pile of spineless goo, but a lot of confrontational situations can be diffused as long as you act with confidence, maturity and the knowledge that your opponent is sitting on top of a giant rocket.

Let's see how well Gary from marketing can negotiate now!

Lesson 5: Stay positive!

If you take away one thing from Michael Bay films (besides that even a dweeb like Shia LaBeouf can land Megan Fox if he plays his cards right and there are machines taking over the world), it's that doing the hard thing, while not easy, will always rewarded with the respect of that guy from "The Green Mile" (either David Morse or Michael Clarke Duncan):

By Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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