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Just Be Cool: Equanimity Defined

equanimity_calm_woman_faceThe one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking one’s self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. – Margot Fonteyn

Equanimity is a funny word. It seems at once mysterious and self-explanatory. It has the quality of a “where have you been all my life? I’ve needed this word.” And yet there is something pedestrian and obvious about it. “Oh, yes, of course – that’s a state of mind I often strive to be in.”

Let’s create an operational definition, cobbling together the best of what is already out there in dictionaries and Mindfulness tomes:

Equanimity is an even and composed frame of mind, neither elated nor depressed. Balanced, poised; calmly sure of oneself.

The adjective form is “equanimous” – as in “I find myself in a pleasantly equanimous state of mind.”

It is a clear-minded tranquil state of mind; not being overpowered by anxieties or agitation. In one’s interactions with others, one acts from a position of receptive curiosity in order to more fully understand what is happening right now.

Equanimity is a calm state of mental or emotional stability or composure arising from a powerful awareness and acceptance of the current environment and prevailing situations while being fully immersed in the present moment.

The false synonym of equanimity is indifference. The opposite of equanimity is anxiety, worry, stress and paranoia caused by dividing people and events into ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ A state one needs to avoid is that of apathy and despondency or hopelessness.

When one is in a state of equanimity, one is mentally resourceful, serene and fully aware, one does not cling tensely to the world, rather observes the world in a relaxed physical and mental state, from a slight distance.

While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces an outward radiance, peacefulness and warmth of being.