How Equanimity Support Ethics

by | Jun 5, 2024 | Blog

What is Equanimity?

Have you ever experienced a moment when you were happily surprised at your capacity to stay present and clear in a challenging situation? If so, that was equanimity. This amazing human capacity for mental balance also helps us be present with things we enjoy, without getting so attached that we suffer when they naturally fade away. Sharon Salzberg describes it like this:

“Rather than allowing our minds to spin stories… we can create space for ourselves to feel without drowning in a given feeling. The creation of that space is the essence of equanimity.”

Fortunately, as with other helpful potentials like mindfulness and kindness, we all have the capacity for this sort of inner balance. Without practice though, equanimity can easily lie dormant within, like an underground spring.  Given what a helpful resource equanimity offers, it it worth cultivating so we can access that well of strength.

How Does It Help Us Stay True to Beautiful Intentions?

When equanimity grows well-established, there arises the possibility of acting from the deeper, wiser parts of ourselves. Here are 3 ways you may notice this:

Balanced Perspective

Equanimity fosters a balanced perspective, allowing us to maintain calm and impartiality in the face of praise or blame, success or failure. This steadiness helps prevent impulsive or reactive behaviors that can lead to unethical actions. You might notice it in work settings, where the wish to succeed pushes us, but can also mislead us about what is truly important.

Compassionate Detachment

By cultivating equanimity, we develop a perspective that allows us to care for others’ well-being without becoming overly attached or emotionally overwhelmed. This balanced compassion encourages actions that are beneficial and fair to all parties involved. You might notice it with your children or close friends, where the unconscious impulse to pick favorites sometimes blocks our wiser nature.

Impartiality in Ethical Decisions

Equanimity supports making ethical decisions based on principles rather than personal biases or emotions. This variety of impartiality ensures that actions are guided by wisdom and kindness, leading to more consistent and morally sound behavior. You might notice it in social or community settings, where at times we can narrowly insist on our own view.

As the above examples aim to describe, strengthening equanimity offers many benefits that go hand in hand with fulfilling our hearts’ wish to be honest, benevolent and fair-minded. To support you in this, here is a short guided meditation that emphasizes knowing the body as it is.