Mussar Equanimity - Menuchat Hanefesh

Rise above events that are inconsequential - both bad and good for they are not worth disturbing your equanimity.
-Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lefin, Cheshbon HaNefesh

A person who has mastered peace of mind has gained everything. To obtain peace of mind, you need to be at peace with your emotions and desires.
Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv

A rabbi once came to one of the contemplative Kabbalists and asked to be accepted as an initiate. The Master said to him, “My son, may God bless you, for your intentions are good. Tell me, though, whether or not you have attained equanimity.” The rabbi said to him, “Master, please explain your words.” The Master replied, “If there were two people, and one of them honored you and the other insulted you, are they equal in your eyes?” The rabbi answered, “No, my Master. For I feel pleasure and satisfaction from the one who honors me, and pain from the insults of the other. But I do not take revenge or bear a grudge.” The Master blessed the rabbi and sent him away. “Go in peace, my son. When you have attained equanimity, your soul does not feel the honor deriving from one who honors you nor the embarrassment arising from insults. Your consciousness is not yet ready to be attached to the supernal.”

Morinis, Alan. Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar (p. 103). Shambhala. Kindle Edition.

The Mussar teachers want us to be a calm soul who is like a surfer who rides the waves on an even inner keel, regardless of what is happening within and around him. Even as the waves are rising and falling, the calm soul rides the crest, staying upright, balanced, and moving in the direction the rider chooses. Equanimity is a quality of being centered in yourself, though at the same time being exquisitely sensitive to the forces that are at work all around, or else you will be vulnerable to being tossed around by the sorts of unexpected waves that crash in on every life.

Morinis, Alan. Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar (p. 100). Shambhala. Kindle Edition.

Distance Yourself

In his famous letter to his son, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman advises: “Distance yourself from anger.” And in the Orchot Chaim [Ways of Life] of the Rosh, we are advised, “Distance yourself from pride.” This phrase, “distance yourself,” shows up elsewhere as well.9 By “distance yourself” we are surely not being told never to be angry, proud, jealous, and the like, because Mussar teachers consistently assert that this would be an unrealistic goal—everyone experiences the full range of inner states, and in and of itself, every inner trait is neither good nor bad. More important is how we respond to what we feel. “Distance yourself,” then, can mean only two things. Either we are to stay physically far from people who are angry, proud, and so forth, or we are being directed to develop some kind of inner distance from the experience of our own anger, pride, and other incendiary soul-traits.

Morinis, Alan. Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar (pp. 104-105). Shambhala. Kindle Edition.