I subscribe to Dictionary.com’s “Word of the Day,” and a few weeks ago the word of the day was “ataraxia.”
English degree aside, I’d never heard the word (at least, that I can remember), but I instantly fell in love with it. It was around the time I started working out outside again (see Your Treadmill SUCKS! 7 Reasons You Should Get Outside), so I knew exactly what ataraxia meant…
…I’d been experiencing it firsthand every morning on the track.
By Dictionary.com’s definition, ataraxia is a noun and it means:
A state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquility.
The word has some history, of course (we all have our baggage!). For example, the Epicureans believed it was true happiness, the Pyrrhonians associated it with the quietude that comes with suspending judgment, and for the Stoics, ataraxia was the absence of passion.
For me, however, ataraxia was being on the track, surrounded by trees and birds and wind and a lazy creek and thinking of nothing other than how great it felt to make my legs and lungs work – really work. No emotional disturbance, no anxiety – just tranquility and the delicious satisfaction of doing something good for myself.
So, here’s a weekend challenge for you, readers: Do one thing this weekend that helps you achieve ataraxia. Bonus points for choosing something that is good for both your mind and your body!
Maybe you’ll choose exercise, or meditation, or focusing on a brand new, super healthy recipe. Whatever it is, come back Monday and let us know how it went!
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Last reviewed: 6 Oct 2012