Calmness is a form of “positive apathy” we direct toward the unwanted. It can be natural or acquired, permanent or temporary. It is not a very popular virtue, and most people are less calm than they should be, mostly because they underestimate the power of calmness in facing danger or solving problems with, improving logical thinking, or boosting mood. To them life is too short, beautiful and serious to sit and watch, calmly. Thus they confuse calmness with apathy, weakness, and delusion, although calmness only balances one’s emotions, focuses one’s power, and organizes one’s thoughts.
Chemically speaking, decreasing the levels of stress hormones (adrenalin, cortisol, prolactin …), while increasing soothing endorphins, through frequent meditation and relaxation techniques, is what is meant by calmness.
One can simultaneously be strong and calm about life, however weak or meek they look to others, or to themselves, while they are still learning to be calm. Real power is one to be kept in reserve and used moderately on demand, according to circumstance, not squandered here and there needlessly and unwisely. Power without self-control is weakness, like a raging river whose waters are lost in the sea, or a powerful machine without a control valve. We lose ground when our anger shows to others (be it people, obsessions, bad habits, hard times, sudden difficulties, etc.) because anger should only be opted for as a last resort, weapon or card, when we run out of all tactics in our survival repertoire, not a trigger we happily pull anytime.
Calmness is a great survival strategy, and a peaceful lifestyle that leads to better, healthier, more enjoyable living. As long as we need to “enjoy, understand and control” our life, calmness will always be needed. In the battlefield, during the fight for survival, we can still be calm, because worrying about one’s fate is not enough: we need our brain to think, some pleasure to feel motivated, and enough self-control to master our weapons. In the intervals, between fights, we should cherish our peace of mind, and enjoy life to the full. Such intervals should be prolonged, maximally: peace should be the norm, not fight.
Mastering calm techniques gives us the power to control our thoughts and actions, relinquishing bad habits and acquiring good ones, even when the former are at an advanced stage of addiction: to drugs, alcohol, nicotine; to sex, food, people; or to any compulsive behavior.
Calmness only cleans the old house, preparing it for the new guests we alone choose. Developing new, healthy habits is the best way to kick old ones, as nobody lives in a vacuum.
In calmness we willingly choose to be apathetic about our primitive desires and fears, temporarily, until the urge, craving, or cause of stress disappears. When we calm down, we let the higher brain, or cerebral cortex, take control of the primitive, limbic brain to confront our problems: to solve, accept or ignore them. Otherwise, such primitive brain has no function but to operate basic survival needs, like eating, smelling, seeing, etc. (no deep thinking, decision-making or problem-solving).
Calmness can be acquired by anyone, even those who are not genetically calm.