An idea I’ve increasingly appreciated over the past few years is “equanimity.” Equanimity is defined as a state of mental calmness or composure in difficult situations.
I struggled with something approaching even a semblance of equanimity until a few years back. Highs and lows were the norm. Over time, however, thanks to all the self reflection that writing here required of me, I’ve learnt to keep perspective. And, in addition, I’ve realized that what matters most is to keep focus on the process / things you control.
An example of applying this was when my laptop stopped booting up last night. I had been having intermittent problems over the past couple of days. I hadn’t gotten around to figuring out the issues since I was busy wrapping up a project and switching locations. But, last night, just as I boarded my flight, it gave up on me. So, I reached home this morning and gave it a fresh shot.
Again, no luck. Damn. Can’t blog in the morning. Can’t do some work I wanted to get done. Can’t get through emails that required certain actions for a current project. Not good in my world.
But, I chose instead to spend my time unpacking. I’d been having a good couple of days and just viewed this as the inevitable “down” and moved on. After unpacking, I took it to our IT support folk at school. Within 3 hours, they’d identified that the problem was the result of a hardware loose contact and had fixed it (thanks guys!).
The best part about this was not the fix but the fact that I didn’t experience the slightest amount of stress or anxiety. While this is a classic first world problem, this would have caused hours of irritation and anxiety in the past. But, thanks to focusing on things that I could control, I dealt with it far better than I ever would have.
Truly a transformative experience.
(PS: A big part of this evolution has also been the absence of the manic high. More on that another day.)