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Calmness of temperament

Calmness is composed of various elements: calmness of temperament, tranquility of the nerves and stillness of the body, which includes the serenity of the senses, movements and features. There is also inner calmness, the peacefulness of the soul, which is made up of the tranquility of the heart and thoughts. From this also comes calmness of speech and behavior.
The person, who is really calm, is calm in every way. His behavior is calm, his dealings with people are calm. He lives with an inner peace which radiates as peace on the outside. Whatever peace there is inside him overflows as peace outside him. If he speaks he speaks calmly, even if he is being firm and correcting another, he does so calmly. He does not lose his calmness whatever the reason might be, whatever the provocation from outside, because he is accustomed to being calm, and calmness has become part of his character.
Calmness of Temperament Some people may be born calm by nature or temperament, or might have inherited calmness from their parents, while others have trained themselves to be calm by practising it and making it a habit so it became their nature.
Others, however, are the opposite, they have no calmness in their character, their nature is fiery. Wherever one of them stays, tension accompanies him and the temperature rises. His
unrest precedes him. He is tantamount to a burning flame which wherever it is cast, ignites and burns and explodes in sparks. His glances are full of fire, his words are bombshells, his requests are orders and threats that have to be carried out immediately.
When someone with a fiery character finds a quiet-natured person, he tries to provoke him, but if the calm person encounters a fiery one he tries to pacify him. What is your character like? Is it a fiery one or a peaceful one? If the former is the case, and you have a fiery nature, do not despair and do not give up and submit to it as if it were something unchangeable even if you were born with it. Characters can be changed and when trained can become their opposite.
Saint Moses the Black at the start of his life had a harsh frightening, murderous nature, but he was transformed into a gentle, calm person who loved people and was loved by them, a
welcoming person, smiling and meek. Saint John the Beloved did not begin his life that way, for both he and his brother James were nicknamed Boanerges, meaning Sons of Thunder. (Mark 3:17). When one of the Samaritan villages refused to accept the Lord, James and John asked him if they could, "call fire down from heaven to destroy them". (Luke 9:54). But with time and through the actions of the Holy Spirit, this fiery nature calmed down and John was turned into
John the Beloved who spoke of love.
When it comes to calmness, what a difference there is between the nature of the roots and the nature of the boughs and branches. The branches, by their very nature, bow and bend with the winds to left and right according to the wind's direction, and may cause a soft or loud sound as they bend. But the roots extend into the ground quietly without a sound, drawing in their nourishment and feeding the restless branches too. Let us now move from calmness of character to another point which is:
Calmness of The Nerves
There are individuals whose temper is calm, and others whose temper is inflamed. The person with a calm temper does not get upset quickly and perhaps even slowly. It is as if he is an unshakeable mountain, or like the six great stones which are exposed to the Nubian Nile which, however much the waves surge against them, remain calmly fixed in their place, unaffected by the disturbance around them. But the person whose nerves are raw is easily agitated, he rants and raves perhaps for the most trivial of reasons, or for no reason at all, just because of his inner doubts and imaginings.
The person whose temper is calm is a strong person because external factors cannot provoke him but rather his strong nerves are able to resist them. And because of this inner strength, he gains people's respect and admiration. As for the one who is agitated and shouting, however much he rages and creates a fuss, abuses and threatens, and seems to frighten others, he does not gain anyone's respect. His agitation indicates the weakness of his temper, or the weakness of his character.
If anyone wishes to make a spectacle or an object of ridicule of this week person, he can. For example, if there is a teacher whose nerves are weak, he is unable to bear a mistake or outburst from a student, so that any pupil could say to his classmate, "Do you want to see me make this teacher get all worked up?" He isn't dreaded to the pupils at all. He just looks ridiculous. So then he behaves in a way that he knows will provoke the teacher and then sits back to watch!
Calm nerves depend on two things: the physical state and the psychological. There are many physiological reasons for the nerves to become exhausted but we will not go into them all
now. We will turn our attention here to a physical cause which often drains people's nerves, even the best of people, and that is tiredness. If the body is exhausted because of tiredness and
strain, then the nerves get to the point of being unable to bear anything. My advice to you if you find yourself in such a situation is, not to enter into a long conversation or lengthy discussion with anyone, especially with those who hold rigid views, and who are not easily persuaded. It is not right, in such a state of exhaustion, to try and decide important matters or solve problems. Take care not to get into arguments when you are exhausted, for you may lose your temper. The state of exhaustion requires sleep, or at least rest and relaxation. Your loved ones must take note of your state of tiredness and not draw you into a discussion or try to solve
problems while you are in such a state. One of the ways to aid calmness of the nerves is the spirit of joy and cheerfulness. Cheerfulness produces in the body a state of relaxation which soothes the nerves. All those who are characterised by a cheerful spirit have tranquil nerves and do not get agitated easily. They may meet provocation with a sense of humour that makes those who are trying to provoke them laugh too, so that the matter subsides. Those who are
narrow minded and straitlaced, who imagine that laughter is a sin, you will often find that their nerves are tense. The strict severity with which they meet people's behavior often makes the atmosphere lose its tranquility and the situation become aggravated. I hope to return to this point, God willing, when we speak about the factors which contribute to calmness. But let us continue on straightaway to talk about the harm which results from nerves that lack tranquility.
The person whose nerves are easily agitated harms himself as a result, and also harms others. He harms himself with mental illnesses, heart disease and high blood pressure and also various
psychological illnesses which result from his over reacting and angry outbursts. He may be forced to take tranquillisers, and sleeping pills to try to calm his nerves for a while, then the stress returns once again through psychological motives from within and external provocation, and he again resorts to tranquillisers! His nerves become like elastic, which through constant stretching and slackening loses its elasticity and is ruined.
Such a person enters the whirlpool of problems caused by nervous illnesses. Although medicine tries to treat the symptoms, the more important thing is to treat the reasons behind the nervous problems, and at the outset try to convince the person of the need to be calm. Calm souls do not suffer from nervous illness and have no need for tranquillisers because they are peaceful by nature.
The person who can control and calm his nerves can also control his words and not make mistakes. Likewise he can control his behavior and be in command of himself, thus winning rather than losing in situations in which he is involved. All these things require a healthy spiritual attitude and an inner conviction in the individual that he can preserve his character, his rights and his dignity by being calm. He must realise that nervous outbursts are a clear mistake. This is an obvious weakness before other people which loudly proclaims that the individual concerned is unable to solve his problems using reason and logic in a calm way and thus resorts to nervous outbursts. The person whose nerves flare up is giving an indication that evil has got the better of him and he has been unable to resist it, which is why he flared up; while the Apostle says: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Rom.12:21).
Someone who has irritable nerves is a person who has no resistance and who has collapsed inside, while someone who has calm nerves is a resilient and fully composed person.
Calmness, BY the late H.H. Pope Shenouda III, 117th Pope of Alexandria and the See of St. Mark.  




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