Being undisturbed means remaining unchanged despite external stimuli. That is the definition of the word. It’s the ability to remain immovable in the face of any event – a very marked feature of the great Stoics.
If I had to choose a core skill to navigate this world interrupted by COVID-19, I would select imperturbability followed by magnanimity, ataraxia. And also my dearest and inseparable self-discipline, self-awareness and initiative (since these three are the perfect trident to integrate anything you propose).
However, until we’re able to question our thoughts, work without the “I” before anything, act consciously and understand what limits us, accept it and use it as an advantage until we succeed – as individuals or organizations – in mastering these fields, we cannot be imperturbable or cool-headed.
Being undisturbed and calm only works when attacking what disturbs you—the most challenging, the most terrifying.
10 strategies to reach that state of imperturbability
These are some of the strategies that I have used to work on imperturbability:
1. Be small doing great things
Do things that require a titanic effort, and do them very small. That intention will crush you because you know that you will have to dedicate yourself for hundreds of days to something until you get it. It is there that you begin to develop an imperturbable attitude.
2. Jump into fear, find it, live it
Just finding your fear isn’t enough. You have to attack it and go for it. It doesn’t matter if it’s fear of looking ridiculous or public speaking, expressing your feelings, or not being reciprocated. Once you get there, you have to live that fear. How? Remaining in doubt, perhaps by investing, investing more. Maybe it’s just alone, spend a lot of time alone. It may be leaving your job and starting something uncertain, make it your lifestyle. The critical part is sitting down with that fear every day and just listening to it, nothing more.
3. Learn to see and validate what you resist seeing and then make it valid
You can’t be disturbed by something you accept as it is. What you resist ends up chasing you and increasing in size. The more resistance, the more difficult it is to get rid of it. When you identify that pain point and give it the acceptance it deserves, it will never bother you again.
4. Find the thought that disturbs or frustrates you and instead of feeding it, besiege it by giving it more than it asks of you
If I think or act as if I don’t deserve it, and try to run away from that belief feeling sorry for myself, the odds are that I’m going to end up suffocated. On the other hand, paradoxically, if I feed it by giving it more unworthiness, the point will come that I will see it so clearly that I will have no choice but to do it.
5. Find the disagreement and understand it outside your echo chamber
We argue or get upset most of the time when we disagree about something. When in reality, it is the perfect occasion to find the imperturbability, especially in seeing how you try, either to convince or to manipulate the other point of view to fit yours. If you seek to convince yourself that you are wrong, you will gain a good stretch towards that unalterable state. Especially as agreeing doesn’t make you imperturbable either, it only calms you down.
6. Stay close to who or what causes you the friction
This strategy is king, as imperturbability can only be trained in moments of tension and weakness. If you are punctual, working with unpunctual people and adapting to their changes would be a good example.
7. Do everything you dislike, in a planned way
It’s one thing to end up doing something you don’t like without knowing it. Another very different thing is to set up a daily calendar where you expose yourself to things that you know you don’t want to do. This strategy has been definitive to gain imperturbability.
8. Be, think, and act ridiculous, absurd, foolish, and vulnerable
The day will come when you will have no ideas, you will fail, you will go mad, or you will find yourself devastated. There is nothing of this that does not appear on the road before arriving, months or even years later, to imperturbability. If you take all this for granted and throw yourself into what makes the least sense, you will realise that you have advanced more than anyone.
9. Don’t think about living present, act (and don’t act) from the moment you open your eyes until you close them
In the end, everything is shown with facts, and if you have none to tell, what are you living? When you go into action you are living, because you are here, and you are subjected to all kinds of stimuli that will try to destabilise you, that is when you will grow.
10. Ignore the texts, audios, videos, and of course, advice from 98% of the world. Including your own
Do you know why you think teachers are teachers? Since you believe more than they do. Or why do you think people are happy? Because you think about happiness and they don’t, and therefore if you think about it, you don’t have it. If you isolate yourself from social conventions, cliches, fashions, and ultimately, everything external, if you take away the power they have over you, you will realise that they cannot affect you in the slightest.
Imperturbability can only come from great self-control, which is what you train and get with these strategies.