Last updated July, 2016.
1. mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper. 2. evenness of mind.
"Happy the man who can endure the highest and the lowest fortune. He, who has endured such vicissitudes with equanimity, has deprived misfortune of its power."
One of our readers submitted the following question:
"I was told I should not get 'too down' in my bad times, or 'too up' in my good times. While I understand not getting 'too down,' I don't understand the danger associated with 'too up' - I feel we should take advantage of the good times, celebrate them, and hold them in our minds to help us through the bad times. Where is the flaw in my logic?"
It is pertinent to talk about attachment and change in this context.
When you become attached to something - when you "cling" to it - you cause yourself to suffer.
Things come and go. Regardless of whether you label them "good" or "bad," they still come and go.
Nothing is permanent. Things, people, situations: they all change. Everything changes.
If you don't accept change, you will suffer when it happens.
"Accepting the reality of change gives rise to equanimity."
- Allan Lokos
Back to the question - when what you label as "bad times" occur, you need to accept that they will come and go. If you allow your mind to convince you they're permanent, you get lost in a pit of despair that gets deeper and deeper as it perpetuates more thoughts and emotions.
You don't recognize the temporary nature of the bad times, or the temporary nature of your thoughts about the bad times. As a result, you create stress, anxiety, and depression for yourself.
You suffer more from you failure to recognize that everything is temporary than you suffer from the actual situation itself.
But, as the questioner asks, what is the danger associated with the good times?
It's the same! When what you label as "good times" occur, you need to accept that they will come and go. If you are attached to them - or cling to them - you will suffer when they go or change. You will find yourself longing for the good times, wanting things to be "the way they used to be."
This leads to dissatisfaction with the present moment. You can see it in the language of the question itself:
"I feel we should hold them [good times] in our minds...to help us through the bad times."
There is nothing wrong with pleasant memories - but, recognize memories happen in the present moment. Enjoy them when they arise, but don't cling to them. If you do, you are rejecting what is happening here and now ("I wish things could be like that again!"), and causing yourself to suffer.
Accept everything that happens in the moment it happens, and recognize that nothing is permanent. The ups, the downs, the good, the bad - it all passes the same as it comes, like clouds in the sky.
Consider a stormy day. When the weather is bad, you recognize that it is temporary. You live in the present moment (probably with a rain coat or an umbrella!), and you know that change will happen. Stormy weather comes and goes. Sunny weather comes and goes.
Nothing is permanent, so don't allow anything to be made permanent by your own mind.
Take that last sentence and apply it to what you label as "good" and "bad." Apply it to your happy times and your sad times.
Nothing is permanent, so don't allow anything to be made permanent in your own mind.
If you allow something to be made permanent in your own mind, you create suffering for yourself by denying impermanence and the temporary nature of reality.
"Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality's transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being."
- Gil Fronsadal
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