Equanimity – It is defined as mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. Wow, that is exactly what I want. So after much contemplation, my intention for 2018 is to cultivate equanimity.
I started my Anger Project as a means to explore, understand and hopefully reduce my anger. At first I enjoyed the pursuit, but in recent months I found myself pulling away from focusing and writing about anger. When I took the time to explore and reflect on the possible causes (perfectionism, time management issues, etc) I found that I just didn’t want to focus on anger any more.
My “anger project” has helped me learn a great deal. I’ve identified situations that trigger emotions and behavior that I would prefer not to repeat. I’ve learned techniques to help reduce anger once it is welling up and to recognize triggers in advance so I could proactively modify the situation. But I’ve also learned that we get more of what we focus on. Neuroscience research has shown that our brain doesn’t pay too much attention to modifiers (words like no, not, less, more). I’ve learned that when I have been working on being “less angry” my brain kept thinking more about “angry” and not so much about “less” of it. It’s not that the pursuit has been fruitless, but that focusing on the thing that I want more of will yield the harvest I’m seeking much faster.
I imagine that it sounds like the same thing – less angry vs. more calm – but there is a very different energy to those words. Just saying those phrases out loud produces a different feeling in my body. Try it for yourself – less lazy vs. more energetic, less sad vs happier, less judgemental vs. more accepting, etc. Therefore, my blog project is no longer about reducing anger but is about developing equanimity.
As you consider your intentions for the coming year I encourage you to put the focus on what you want more of – the thing you are going to nurture, grow and increase throughout the coming year.