To be calm is the highest achievement of the self.
– Zen proverb
For someone who couldn’t, wouldn’t and didn’t read till I was a young adult…except for Dads “I buy them for the articles only” (hidden in the wardrobe) Playboy magazines…yes, I found them Dad...I now not only adore reading, but I’m word-curious…meaning I’m constantly referring to my dictionary & thesaurus.
I find this is particularly helpful when orientating myself around broader meanings of words – identifying the synonyms and antonyms, and the origins of the word.
So when it came to the word ‘calm’, I once again referenced my trusty dictionary and thesaurus and came up with the following:
Late 14 century, from Old French calme “tranquillity, quiet,” traditionally from Old Italian calma, from Late Latin cauma “heat of the midday sun” (in Italy, a time when everything rests and is still), from Greek kauma “heat” (especially of the sun)
Tranquil, relaxed, unperturbed, unmoved, quiet, patient, steadfast, disciplined, cool-headed, self-possessed, unflappable, even-tempered, equable, together, stolid, unruffled.
Distracted, agitated, aggressive, irrational, disorderly, disruptive, frantic, fuming, undisciplined, uncontrolled, impetuous, anxious, furious, immoderate, rash, unreasonable, restless
So this got me thinking…what words would best describe the optimal mindset, temperament and approach that would benefit us most when dealing with, and responding to, what life throws our way, such as:
– The insignificant things outside our realm of choice and control, like the congested traffic, annoying people, anti-vax pro-vax, sitting-on-the-fence-vax…or even worse…you notice that ‘your’ barista isn’t working today #dayruined.
– To the larger, unforeseen obstacles such as being terminated from your job, being involved in a major accident, or dealing with a scary diagnosis, or the death of a love one.
– To the things that you do choose, that are in your realm of choice & control – such as your health and wellbeing? Nutritional choices, reducing our alcohol intake, sleep, exercise or strength, to starting a new job or moving house?
– Patience with challenging relationships or difficult children.
– Courage to change career.
– To talk less and listen more…and a really confronting one...actually listen to what comes out of your mouth
– To manifest the disciplined to improve resilience, become less reactionary, and more ‘in control’, and have a better grasp on our emotions
– And maybe even more importantly… what state of mind will enable us to, first notice the craziness around us, and then take action to disengage from the noise so we can truly experience all the amazing, beautiful, kind, generous stuff that surrounds us 365/24/7…
– And then have the courage to begin to recalibrate & “habitualise” your day to day, so you actually prioritise actions that encourages to not only make better choices for yourself, but to seek and see all the beautiful, kind shit that surrounds us.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events.
Realise this (& remind yourself daily), and you will find strength”
– Marcus Aurelius
So what would be our desired optimal mindset, temperament and approach? I think those calm synonyms work a treat…tranquil, relaxed, unperturbed, unmoved, quiet, patient, steadfast, disciplined, cool-headed, self-possessed, unflappable, even-tempered, equable, together, stolid, unruffled.
Alternatively, what words would best describe the reasons why we fail to not prioritise and take the upmost care of ourselves?
Why do struggle to maintain a steadfast approach to our wellbeing?
Why do we tend to self-sabotage our wellbeing with our own self-rewarding – by continually ‘feeding’ our addictive, impulsive & compulsive habits, and then getting frustrated and anxious at our very actions that cause this anxious frustrated state.
Why do we find ourselves on wellness rollercoaster – seemingly never able to maintain the desired mental focus and actual discipline to maintain our wellbeing ‘most of the time’?
Why do we sacrifice our sleep?
Why we’re constantly seeking external, silver-bullet remedies, hacks, supplements, pills, detoxes and cleanses in an attempt to ‘fix’ our state of mind and health?
Why are we quick to anger, sadness, anxiety or unrealistic with our goal-setting, impatient with our progress, and thus derail and continue to self-sabotage our efforts?
Why are we never satiated, meaning…why are we incessantly buried in our phones, glued to social media, fixated with the news, over-consuming content, food & alcohol, gaming, porn…why are we “finding comfort” in hyper stimulation and hyper distraction?
Why can’t we just sit still?
Using the Calm antonyms…Is it because we’re?
Frenzied, agitated, aggressive, irrational, disorderly, disruptive, frantic, fuming, undisciplined, uncontrolled, impetuous, anxious, furious, immoderate, rash, unreasonable, wild, restless?
I do realise I’m repeating myself here, but what words could best describe the world we live?
There are plenty, but would frenzied, agitated, aggressive, irrational, disorderly, disruptive, frantic, fuming, undisciplined, uncontrolled, impetuous, anxious, furious, immoderate, rash, unreasonable, wild, restless be a good start?
Somethings gotta give…
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If your are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
– Lao Tzu
Be The Calm, Not The Causation
In my last article I mentioned two quotes that underpin the NOWBEING project, one from Stoic slave Epictetus “we are disturbed not by things, but by the view we take on them.”
And the other from Viktor Frankl, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Calm is that space