I’m still making my way through The Power of One More by Ed Mylett.
Near the end of the book, he has a chapter called “One More Degree of Equanimity.”
When I read the title, I thought, “What in the world does that mean? One more degree of being a nicer guy?”
I’ve always considered “equanimity” to mean being an easygoing person. By the way, it’s a tough word to type over and over again. It’s not easygoing in that way.
While my meaning of the word is accurate, I really appreciate and agree with Mylett’s use of the word
Mylett speaks of equanimity as having an “even mind.” Essentially, it is the idea of remaining cool and calm under pressure or regardless of outside circumstances.
Many of us can be chill when not a whole lot is going on or when things fall our way. Chill is easy when things are good.
But when we are battling difficult situations, frustrations, setbacks, anger, etc., we struggle with maintaining an even mind or finding a sense of equanimity.
We allow the negative circumstances around us to drive our moods and our emotions into unproductive territory.
Finding a sense of calm in the midst of forces we can’t control allows us to find our footing and start working on solutions.
It’s the pitcher who pitches the same whether he’s got 2 outs in the first inning with no one on base and in the 8th inning, holding on to a 1 run lead, with runners on 2nd and 3rd base and the league leader in RBI and home runs at the plate.
It’s the golfer who sees a 20 ft putt at the 3rd hole on a Thursday first round as he sees it on Sunday, up by one stroke on hole 16.
It’s the stay-at-home mom who can run through her daily routine with three kids who are all well-behaved and pleasant and also when those same kids are rebelling and struggling in school or going through hormonal smart-ass-ness.
It’s the power of chill.
It’s not about NOT having emotions. It’s about choosing our responses vs. allowing our emotions to drive our responses.
I can err, sometimes, on the side of being so chill that my lack of worry is centered in a blind hope that things will end up okay.
That’s not good either.
The power is (a) understanding any urgency that is present while (b) maintaining an even mind – the chill, so that (c) you can focus on solutions.
The power of the chill is in the ability to still think clearly despite the emotional turmoil swirling around.
We all know the person who is cool under pressure. We consider that person trustworthy – the kind of trustworthy that is developed not from lack of lying but because the person is dependable.
And we also know the person is NOT cool under pressure. We might like that person and trust that they’re honest, but we also are a little hesitant to depend on them when the doo-doo hits the fan.
The power of chill – of equanimity – is the power of being a dependable, reliable problem solver.
It’s not about being relaxed. It’s about being able to stare down pressure and circumstance and bad news and setbacks and executing anyway.
The big question is always, “But how can I become a person full of equanimity?”
The first step is realizing that it is a goal or a skill to pursue.
The second step is learning to differentiate between things you can control and things you can’t control.
The third step is learning how to take a minute, settle your mind, and remind yourself which is beyond your control and where you can have influence.
The fourth step is to act on one task. Just start moving.
The fifth step? Keep revisiting in the third and fourth steps. The third, anytime you’re tempted to let your emotions or fears or anger go off the rails. The fourth, to pull you back into line and give you something to focus on.
It all comes back to having a clear picture of the situation, the courage to act, and the tools to maintain and reset your focus.
I recommend starting with steps one or two. Spend a few days considering this idea of equanimity – the power of chill – as a valuable skill and take note of what you can or cannot control.
See how it goes. You will discover there’s power in chill.