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Serenity , equanimity , inner calm or calm is an inner attitude , the ability to maintain composure or an unbiased attitude , especially in difficult situations . It is the opposite of restlessness, excitement, nervousness and stress .

While serenity emphasizes the emotional aspect, prudence describes the deliberate, self-controlled serenity that allows the mind to gain the upper hand especially in difficult or delicate situations , i.e. the rational aspect of inner calm .

Word origin and history of meaning

The word serenity comes from the Middle High German word gelāʒenheit ( godly devotion ), this from gelāʒen , past participle from gelāʒen . According to language research Middle High German expression mean gelāʒen to settle , God arise , later moderate , calm behave or resignedly , later be moderate in the emotion .

Currently, it means serene being , calm , equanimity .

Serenity is also defined more precisely by the meanings of the adjective serene : serene means “preserving the mental balance; controlled, calm, collected ”and“ unshaken, dispassionate, indifferent ”. Colloquially itself can be allowed or something left (back) take only to a concrete situation, refer to a habitual attitude or life point of view.

The following synonyms and similar terms are informative for the range of meanings : serenity, deliberation, deliberation, control, tranquility, contemplation, prudence (Sophrosyne), composure , coolness , thick skin, relaxedness, composure, measuredness, patience , composure, calmness, equilibrium, equanimity, Cold-bloodedness, coolness, long-suffering, nonchalance, moderation , leisure , sobriety, calm, peace of mind , self-control , Sprezzatura , silence, stoicism , superiority, prudence, restraint. Serenity moves semantically in the field of tension between desirable calmness and dubious indifference.

Technical meanings

Ancient philosophy

With Plato , the level-headed composure, the Sophrosyne, appears as a Socratic virtue . While Plato praised amazement as the first pathos of philosophy, a. Democritus , Horace , that the wise man, because he knows the reasons, does not marvel like everyday people, but rather is not amazed at the supposedly unusual.

"Si fractus inlabatur orbis, inpavidum ferient ruinae. "Even if the shattered world collapses, the rubble will hit a fearless one."

- Horace

The proverbial “ stoic calm” consists in freedom from affect, whereby affects are unreflected emotions. Whether it corresponds to serenity in the sense of stoic ataraxis and apatheia is seen differently and depends on the precise understanding of what is meant in each case. Ataraxia and apathy are to be distinguished from serenity - "insofar as these amount to an unmoved endurance of unavailable events and situations".

In view of the risk that serenity could be equated with dullness, indifference, indifference or fatalism, or that it could lead to it, a reasonable justification and justification of serenity is required.

These are seen, among other things, in the fact that

  • it seems unreasonable to want to change the unavailable and immovable (example: one's own death);
  • the unavailable / uninfluenceable does not fundamentally affect the possibility of a reasonable life;
  • Happiness cannot be planned;
  • it is about living in the present - "life in serenity is life in the present".

Philosophically, serenity is traditionally interpreted as self-solution and self-discovery.

20th Century Philosophy

There are three main works by Martin Heidegger that should be mentioned here:

  • For the discussion of serenity - from a conversation in the field in 1944/45.
  • The question of technology, 1953.
  • Serenity, 1955.

Heidegger connects the concept of serenity on the one hand with the phenomenon of home, on the other hand with the emerging enthusiasm for technology of the 20th century, in which serenity seems to be lost.


In some Middle High German texts in Christian spiritual literature, the term lassed (heit) is used as a technical term, for example in several sermons by Meister Eckhart and other authors of so-called Rhineland mysticism such as Heinrich Seuse , Johannes Tauler and others. v. m. Eckhart speaks in a very similar sense of abegescheidenheit (seclusion), meaning a letting go of self-centeredness with regard to the will: Do not focus on this or that being, but detach yourself from any particularity, be he with being and thus God himself. Eckhart even speaks of the human being should "let God himself" in order to be found: "Ez enis no advice as guot, got ze vindenne, then wâ man got læzet."

Meister Eckhart has identified the gelâzen han as the immediate step to gelâzen sin

"You have to be able to let go in order to be calm."

- Master Eckhart

One could also speak of “letting go”. Heinrich Seuse, Eckhart's pupil, raved about the relaxed person who was distracted by no before and no after. He lives in a moment, in the now.

The talk of serenity in the sense of a general devotion to God, a "trusting surrender to the will of God" occurs in spiritual literature somewhat less specifically. Often interpreted as the equivalent of the confession fiat voluntas tua (Thy will be done) of the Our Father, writes Thomas von Kempen of resignatio .

In the Counter Reformation Ignatius von Loyola speaks of indifference in the sense of serenity.


A central concept of Buddhist mind training is Upekkhā (Skr. Upekṣā , "equanimity"), one of the four limitless states of mind (love, compassion, compassion and equanimity). The spectrum of meanings of this term also includes serenity, non-clinging, non-distinguishing, letting go. This kind of serenity is supposed to express the “wisdom of equality”, that is, the ability to regard all people as equal and not to distinguish between oneself and others. The condition of the state of serenity is therefore to omit the dualistic distinction between oneself and others.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Serenity  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Duden: German Universal Dictionary. 5th edition. 2003, ISBN 3-411-05505-7 .
  2. a b c d Wahrig: German dictionary. 1986, 1991, ISBN 3-570-03648-0 .
  3. ^ Vocabulary Lexicon ( Memento from September 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  4. ^ Pfister: Philosophy. 2006, ISBN 3-15-018433-9 , p. 36.
  5. a b c d Fr. Kambartel
  6. About thinking, 1944/45 in: Martin Heidegger: Gelassenheit. 14th edition. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2008.
  7. in: Martin Heidegger: Complete Edition. Volume 7. Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2000.
  8. Martin Heidegger: Serenity. 14th edition. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2008.
  9. ^ For example, in German sermons 6, 10, 12, 28, 29, 38, 43.
  10. “No recommendation is as useful to find God as that that one should leave God.” Speech of the distinctions, in: Josef Quint (Ed.): Deutsche Werke. Vol. 5 (Meister Eckhart's treatises), Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1963, p. 225, 3.
  11. Represented by Thomas Strässle, serenity, discussed by Urs Willmann: Ruhig Blut. Die Zeit, April 18, 2013, accessed on March 13, 2015 .
  12. Thomas von Kempen: Imitatio Christi , Book III, chap. 37: De pura et integra resignatione sui ad obtinendam cordis libertate
  13. ^ Rainbow / Meyer: Dictionary of Philosophical Terms 2005, ISBN 3-7873-1738-4 .
  14. Thich Nhat Hanh: The Heart of Buddha's Teaching . Freiburg i. Br. 1999, p. 175.
  15. Peter Winterling: The world may show itself. Badische Zeitung, March 10, 2015, accessed on March 19, 2015 .