Last updated December, 2018.
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Everything changes, nothing is permanent: equanimity is a concept tied to this truth.
It is defined as "mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation."
Why is equanimity important?
The way we normally treat thoughts, emotions, people, places, things (i.e., everything in life) is by labeling, categorizing, and judging them. This leads to a desire for things that give rise to pleasant feelings, and an aversion towards things that give rise to unpleasant feelings. From there, we make decisions and take actions. This process guides our life, and we tend to blindly follow it as we go through our days.
Equanimity dictates we adopt a neutral view instead. Drop the labels and judgment, and see reality as it is - without the mental filters and constructs we usually place on top of it. This is the first step to disrupting the process described above.
Equanimity goes hand-in-hand with impermanence. It's difficult to apply equanimity if we don't realize that everything comes into being, exists for a time, and ceases. And, if we apply equanimity consistently, it will combat our minds' attempts to make everything permanent by continuously "grasping after" this and "pushing away" that.
Equanimity has another benefit: it helps end the self-imposed suffering (worry, anxiety, frustration, depression, et cetera) that comes from the process above (labeling, judging, and generally trying to control experience).
As Stoic philosophy tells us, it's not the situation that causes us problems, it's our thoughts about the situation. By applying equanimity, we'll find this isn't just an empty platitude. And, once we free up the time and energy previously spent on "mental gymnastics," we can use it to make more skillful decisions and take more skillful actions.
This quote from Gil Fronsadal nicely sums up the relationship between equanimity and impermanence:
Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality's transience [impermanence]. Equanimity is the ground for wisdom and freedom.
You can't escape your mind...
Life seems to be a roller coaster of ups and downs. All of us are endlessly searching for happiness as we stumble from one problem to the next, trying to cope as best we can.
Are you ready to do something different?
If so, we wrote "An owner's guide to the mind" for you. Click here to read more.