Trying to achieve tranquility, defined as pleasant inactivity in the mind and body, is like trying to effort one’s way into relaxation. It doesn’t work.
In a recent study of college students, researchers found that tranquility was negatively associated with physical and social activities and also negatively associated with activities done for the sake of entertainment or mastery/virtuosity (Berenbaum, Huang and Flores 2019). Tranquility was, instead, positively associated with spiritual activities. These findings differ for the emotion of contentment – which was positively associated with mastery and intellectual activities.
In general, higher tranquility was found among those who tended to focus on the processof activities rather than on the outcome. Those who demonstrate higher levels of acceptance also tend to experience more tranquility.
Thus, focusing and accepting one’s present status can help make one “tranquility-prone.” The researchers explain that “it is not so much current inactivitythat contributes to tranquility as it is a freedomfrom need/desire to try to change/control the future” (p. 258).
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