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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

Word of the Year: Equanimity

In a year that felt unlike any other in history, a philosophy that has persisted for over two millennia provided a playbook.

Yes, I'm talking about Stoicism.

Central to Stoic philosophy is the belief that while we don't control many of the events that happen in our lives, our interpretation of those events, and our response to them, is what's within our control, and therefore where we must focus our attention.

The word equanimity defines a "mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain."

Fittingly, it was Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius who wrote that "when force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out of tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.”

Two thousand years later, author Ryan Holiday has popularized Stoic philosophy in a trilogy of books: The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, and Stillness is the Key. Of the trying circumstances life presents us, Holiday writes that "what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.”

2020 dealt us a hand we didn't anticipate. But the greatest stories of the year - from the heroism on the frontlines to the untold stories of millions who sacrificed to help others - were defined not by the hardship, but rather, the response in the face of that hardship.

And as we turn the calendar page to a new year, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on everyday life. As our world begins a journey back to health, there is a word that can guide our path:


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