“There are four unlimited thoughts: love, compassion, joy and equanimity” Buddha
What is equanimity? This name does not tell you anything? Yet many of its synonyms will certainly speak to you. If I tell you: impassibility, imperturbability, serenity… phlegm! What do you think? No ? Still not ? Well, let’s see. Let’s try then to see a little more clearly (or to “read” a little more clearly in this case 😉 ).
What is equanimity?
EQUANIMITY: feminine noun (from Latin, aequa, equal and animus, spirit). Equality of mood, serenity, phlegm.
If we observe our daily life, I mean, if we really observe, then we will often notice that we constantly live between two opposite notions: laughter and tears, failure and success, enthusiasm and demotivation, confidence and doubt, etc. These opposites of daily life often awaken in us waves, what shall I say? tsunamis of emotions that invade most of the time our mind while polluting our stress management in the process.
We have all experienced these waves of emotions at one time or another, but we have not necessarily all given in to them. Because yes. Some people master them better than others. But how? Why do they do it? Well, that’s where this soft skill with the clever name of equanimity comes into play.
The waves of emotions that sweep over us from time to time can sometimes create an uncomfortable imbalance and handicap our professional or personal activity. As a result, we lose serenity and our daily life is affected. So how can we avoid this? What keys and tools can we find and apply to develop this forgotten soft skill, which is nevertheless very useful on a daily basis?
Equanimity, how to tame it?
Well, let’s summarize. A contradiction arises, you are stuck between two opposing notions. Your state of mind is shaken, weakened and yet it plays an essential role in your psychological, cognitive and even physiological balance. You will have to rebalance all this if you want to guarantee your daily efficiency because yes, the more you develop a calm state of consciousness, the more you will develop your perception and your performance. Not bad, right? So isn’t it high time to be equanimous? You will tell me, “But how do we do that? How can we achieve a perfect emotional balance in all circumstances? The answer is simple: self-control. Well, the solution is there: equanimity = self-control!
Adapting to better control yourself.
Unfortunately, we are not all able to resist with the same dexterity to the events that surround us. The control of mood swings and psychic imbalances that they can provoke is not always within reach of everyone, depending on whether we feel good in our shoes, magnanimous or already disturbed by external events at that moment. So, if not everyone is capable of being equanimous and keeping an unwavering self-control, why do some do better than others? According to a study by the American Psychological Association, “repeated self-control training does not result in widespread improvements in self-control. In short, there’s no need to beat yourself up if you don’t have an ironclad serenity and an even temper in all circumstances, because you are not trained for that anyway! Your first reflex should therefore be not to want to control everything because you won’t be able to! Being open to emotions and to others is also and above all being receptive to all situations and learning to observe them before wanting to control them. This annoying tendency to want to control or organize everything can quickly destabilize you and make you lose your composure in case of unforeseen events or delicate, even stressful situations. Adapt yourself! Knowing how to adapt to all kinds of situations and unforeseen events will help you stay calm and composed in the most difficult situations. Accept that you can’t control everything and prioritize things!
Learn to manage your stress
Stress management has never been an easy task and yet it remains essential in many circumstances. Regardless of our age, our profession or our pace of life, stress is an integral part of our daily lives. Often perceived as negative, it has some good sides because it is also what regularly pushes us to surpass ourselves both physically and mentally. However, when it is too intense it can quickly harm us. So hop! Close your eyes and count to three… 1… 2… 3… TAKE TIME! Take the time to take breaks, take the time to breathe deeply, once, twice, slow down your heart rate and RELAX! Establishing good habits promotes concentration, cognitive reflexes, general health and strengthens the immune system.
Establishing good habits helps concentration, cognitive reflexes, general health and inevitably mood and stress. So start today to exercise regularly, eat well (don’t worry I won’t give you the 5 fruits and vegetables a day affront 😝 ) and above all, get enough sleep! Sleep is THE basic factor unfortunately too often neglected! A serene and balanced sleep at night often guarantees good decision making during the day. As you can see, learning to manage stress in a healthy way develops the energy that is essential for our performance and our self-control when work or life seems difficult.
Identify the warning signs
Work, home, family, daily life, each context can lead us to mismanage our mood. Unexpected stressful situations, annoyances, when faced with fear or anger, we are likely to lose our composure, in other words, an absence of control. Sometimes words and speech even exceed our thinking. So listen to yourself… listen to your body. It will inevitably send you physical signs and if you are not open to introspection or to identifying these signs you will miss out on faithful allies! Indeed, physical signs such as a change in heart rate, more intense sweating than usual, muscle contraction or tension, or accelerated breathing can easily put you on the track of an imminent loss of control. It is therefore useful to distinguish between a state of calm and its opposite. Indeed, the state of calm can sometimes be very subjective for some people. For example, some people will tell you that they are “relaxed” in good faith, but their tone and expression will make you doubt it. And that’s where the problems come in. How can you keep your self-control if you are convinced that you have not lost it? In this case it is even more important to learn to identify the physical signs. Your body will not lie! Your body will not confuse you! Listen to what it tells you because its symptoms will always be objective. Relaxed muscles, calm tone of voice, deep and regular breathing, regular pulse, no shaking, no doubt: you are calm!
Be indulgent towards yourself for a better perspective
Life is made of successes but also has its fair share of failures. That’s just the way it is. One day or another, no matter what the reason, you will fail. It’s part of life, you can’t escape it, so what’s the point of inflicting it on yourself with sometimes destructive mechanisms. Accept your mistakes, accept your failures, they are also there to make you grow and evolve. Forgive yourself, it is the first step towards serenity and success. Don’t waste your energy abusing yourself or punishing yourself for not reaching this or that goal. Fighting with yourself and worrying excessively when you don’t manage to get what you want as you want it will only waste your energy unnecessarily. 80% of the success of a goal depends on your attitude. A serene attitude makes a worker capable of self-control and achieving his goals. Winston Churchill wrote:
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
So be enthusiastic and forgive yourself! NOT EVERYTHING IS YOUR FAULT! The key to success also lies in the ability to step back from failures or events that tend to challenge our equanimity. Take a step back with yourself. Success is also a series of failures and benevolence towards yourself and your ideas.
Equanimity, what tips and practices to maintain it?
So you will tell me that all this is good but how to not give in to your emotions in delicate situations? How can we not let fear, anger or even annoyance get the better of us? It is not a question here of erasing all these emotions since it is unlikely that we will be able to do so consistently anyway. But we can decide to stop suffering them by learning to overcome them, by adopting small regular rituals that will help us to defuse stress or loss of control. In short, to feel more balanced in our body and in our mind. Among these few tips and tools we will especially note:
✅ Practicing a physical activity or sport regularly 🚴
✅ Engage in meditation and mindfulness 🧎
✅ Try sophrology 🧘
✅ Become familiar with gratitude and positive thinking and visioning techniques 💭
✅ Getting into whatever makes us feel good and inspires us to let go 😎
✅ STOPPING, SLOWING DOWN THE RACE, BREATHING AND TAKING TIME FOR OURSELVES REGULARLY ⏰
As you can see, equanimity is a kind of attitude of self-control and emotional self-control. It can be interpreted as the equality of mood in front of any unpleasant or upsetting event, a kind of imperturbable spirit in front of the unforeseen events of life. Emotional stability is sometimes the key to any success, whether professional or personal. Scientific studies have shown that young people who manage to develop higher levels of equanimity during their transition to the professional world tend to be more successful in their careers. Being equanimous simply allows us to remain ourselves, not to take things too personally and therefore to take the necessary distance from events.
To conclude philosophically (yes a little philo is inspiring from time to time 😁):
“Equanimity is the jewel on the crown of the four states of mind of your success: openness, acceptance, patience and benevolence. It only takes a moment and a few caring habits to adopt, never forgetting that “things are only as good as the mind makes them”.
So, when are you going to start?
- Alexandre ANTONIENKO, Neuroscience and leadership (alexandre-antonienko.com)
- L’Express, Style de vie (lexpress.fr)
- Forbes, (forbes.fr)
- Mon complément bien-être (moncomplementbienetre.com)