Aequanimitas-Pin the Word in Your Head!


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Have you heard this word before?

Yes. Then great!

If no, then save this word in your hard disk (brain) by pressing control+S.

Read this word aloud. Remember it.

Write it on an A-4 size sheet. Place it, paste it, or pin it at a place where you can see it, read it  and absorb it, on everyday basis.

Let the word become part of your personality. Because it will give you strength and courage in the toughest moments of your life and will give you wisdom to take better decisions in your life.

Take this action now. Write it down. And if you don’t find any place, keep the word safe in your wallet or purse then. You may be amazed to find the company of this new friend.

Done this exercise. Great!

Now let us try to understand this word.

Aequus (means “equal; calm”) + animus (means “mind, soul’).

Of Latin origin, this word means “with even mind” or “calmness of mind.” Synonyms of this words are: patience, equanimity, tranquillity, goodwill, or favour.

While reading stories from Light form Many Lamps, I came across this word Aequanimitas. Its story and lessons hooked me so deep and I thought to immediately share its importance and relevance in today’s post.

This word, as Dr William Osler writes in his most famous and inspiring speech delivered at the University of Pennsylvania, was used by Roman emperor Antoninus Pius, “who, as he lay dying in his home at Lorium in Etruria, summed up the philosophy of life in the watchword, Aequanimitas.”

Dr William Osler, one of the most renowned professors and notable speakers at the University of Pennsylvania, was asked to deliver his valedictory address to the Medical students of University since on the same day Dr Osler would depart from the university to become professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins.

The day was May 1st, 1889. It was the day, when the students and the members of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania heard Dr William Osler giving his most inspiring valedictory speech, Aequanimitas!

The thought of addressing the young graduates on this theme came when Dr Osler was engrossed in reading his favourite book, The Meditations of Marcus Aurellius. Thinking on what suggestions and useful advise he should give to his physicians, he came across this paragraph from the book which he had highlighted reading earlier:

“Thou must be like a promontory of the sea, against which, though the waves bear continually, yet it both itself stands, and about it are those swelling waves stilled and quieted.”

This paragraph gave him the lead and central theme for his address because he realised that “more than most others, perhaps, young medial men needed poise and self-possession, needed calm strength to withstand whatever problem or difficulties life might bring.  They must be like ‘promontories of the sea.'”

Therefore he drafted his inspiring speech carefully, around this theme.

Addressing the gathering he said that, “Imperturbability means coolness and presence of mind under all circumstances, calmness amid storm, clearness of judgement in moments of grave peril, immobility, impassiveness, or to use an old and expressive word, phlegm.” He highlighted that all the young graduates must posses this “divine gift” and cultivate them so as to face the moments of crisis with firmness of mind and softness of heart without getting disturbed.

Said he, “One of the first essentials in securing a good-natured equanimity is not to expect too much of the people amongst whom you dwell… There is need of infinite patience and understanding.”

in fact, what lies ahead for all of us in life along with success is also failure and thus Dr Osler wrote, “You cannot hope, of course, to escape from the cares and anxieties incident to professional life. Stand up bravely, even against worst.”

And concluding his powerful speech he said “and what in this patience but an equanimity which enables you to rise superior to the trials of life?

Gentleman farewell! Take with you into the struggle the watch-word of the good old Roman-Aequanimitas.”

While this address was for the medical graduates, however, after reading it, I felt assured, that it should be a prised possession for all of us.

Dr Osler’s speech has transcended the tests of time and his words of wisdom shared are a must read for all of us.

Interestingly, with all the doctors with whom I have met so far, they all seem to have imperturbability as their first virtue. Now I know, they all have Aequanimitas.

So practice aequanimitas and make it your another you!

And after reading inspiring speech by Dr William Osler, enjoy reading his Way of Life book by clicking the link below.

Way of Life by Dr William Osler


  • Devanshu says:

    I started reading this post, I took a halt, recalled my past and realized that I’ve been through the state of cacophony and tumult.
    While reading I came across “calmness amid storm,” “clearness of judgement.”
    The one and only suitable word for this is ~MEDITATION ~
    The only soul which is capable of governing its mind actually owns the worth to be called AEQUANIMITAS .
    Thanks for sharing this re-energizing post di 🙂

    • Pratibha says:

      Thanks Devanshu!
      In fact like you, we all come across such tumultuous situations in our life; and to deal with such situations we must have calmness of mind so that we take better decisions.
      Although, this virtue is not so easy to possess and calls for our consistent actions and practice sessions on everyday basis, but good part is when we come across people who have mastered this virtue, we get more confident that we too could work on it.
      So, let’s re-work on ourselves and the pin this word in our heart and our head!

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