Okay Trish, you wanted to know more about deliberate and calibrated strategy to project equanimity. Here it is. More.
Picture a staff room at the end of June. It’s lunch time. Today, there aren’t many of us gathered around the table. I eviscerate my grapefruit between bites of almond butter on toasted bagel. (Hey, I’ve hit three food groups in one of the fastest grab-and-runs available). We are reflecting on the year that’s counting down.
“I’m tired,” I confess. “It’s been an intense, demanding year.” To say the least. I juggled flaming batons—new courses, several large classes, a writing project with tight deadlines, and a dying father. Any break in the rhythm, and I get burned.
“Really!” someone says. “It certainly didn’t show. You were always smiling and so happy.” I’m pleased that the camouflage operation worked. In the end, though, was there ever an alternative? The haggard look isn’t an option. My colleague has come closer than she realizes, however, to exposing me. To say that my smiles and happiness were dissimulation would be a half-truth. When they wouldn’t appear on their own, I painted them on to give the genuineness time to develop. A variation on “Fake it ‘til you make it.”
So, Trish, the strategy is to assume a positive and cheerful mood that I might not be feeling. Yet. In the same vein, when I feel down or even under the weather, I will wear an outfit that, in my estimation, is particularly flattering. At the very least, I will don something bright, maybe even showy. Most of the time, a few hours into the day, the deliberate strategy has worked its magic. The smiles are sincere; my spirits have lifted. I can keep my life in perspective.
While my management tactics are strategic, they are also calibrated. Not calibrated like instruments, measuring cups or thermometers, but like plans, “to devise (something) carefully so as to have a precise use, application, appeal, etc.” (Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/calibrate?s=t). I choose to stay positive and philosophical, no matter what it takes, tailoring my measures to the situation I am facing. I’m disappointed that I lost time in a class because I couldn’t resolve the technological issues? Chalk it up, and remember that a short memory is my biggest asset, because I have another group of students coming in three minutes, and they deserve the best I have to give. I have a deadline and more work than time? I will start writing and see what I can accomplish. As the hours tick away, I will caffeine up and take out some munchies to stay awake, and worry about the caloric damage some other time. No matter what, I have to keep myself together.
To what end? Always the same aim. Balance. Calm. Serenity. No matter what. Breathe. Slow down. Manage. For years, I allowed the stress to invade me. I worried. I panicked. The deliberate and calibrated strategy has evolved from the lessons I learned in those moments. It is a pathway to my personal goal—equanimity (see Balance, May 2, 2013).
Thank you, Trish, for the comment. It’s not complicated, really. Just a stubborn decision to be happy and a daily commitment to the strategy.