I think it’s safe to say that most of us wish for less stress and more happiness in our lives. I can’t speak for everyone, but that points to “peace” in my book. So what are you doing to bring about a more peaceful everyday existence for yourself? Have you ever thought about what it means to live peacefully?
Talk less, think more. Peace means quiet but it also means simplify. The more we talk, the more we present opportunities to muck up the works for ourselves and for the people around us. Perhaps more peace means less verbalizing in general. Words can hurt; they can get us into trouble; they can be misinterpreted and taken the wrong way. Promoting peace all around can mean knowing when to keep one’s thoughts to onself.
Don’t be an animal hoarder. Unless you live on a farm where animals can be properly housed, having multiple pets means a lot more chaos and a lot less peace. Rescuing lots of dogs, cats and whatever else might seem like a good idea at the outset. But if the animals are confined to a small space and are not receiving proper exercise each day then you’re not providing a peaceful home for anybody. People who want to “save” or help animals might do better by volunteering at the local pet shelter, working as a dog walker or pet sitter, or otherwise finding ways to be of service to animals without crowing them together for a life of confined misery which is decidedly un-peaceful.
Let go of the need to be an authority figure. Said another way: stop parenting so much. As we age, we gain experience which may give us the desire to instruct, correct, protect, and suggest. Along with experience follows wisdom, and wisdom is knowing that sometimes others must learn for themselves just as we did. While we may all wish the best for our children, friends and loved ones, at times it may be worth holding back what we “know” so that others may gain understanding in their own way and at their own right time.
Commune more with nature. Why do humans find so many ways to separate ourselves from the natural world? Surely you’ve heard that it’s good for the body and soul to take a walk outside each day. But what about connecting with nature in other ways? Hanging laundry outside on a line instead of machine-drying. Catching a fish instead of playing a fishing game on the computer. Driving with the car windows down. Sleeping with your bedroom windows open on a warm summer night. Sitting by a campfire instead of in front of the television. Putting food out for the birds this winter. Gardening. Fresh air enlivens the spirit; earth under our feet grounds us. Becoming one with the planet is the perfect way to discover peace inside of yourself.
Give up the need to always be right. Often, our sense of self worth comes from proving that we know (or we think we know) more than others. Do you ever catch yourself cutting someone off in mid-conversation to make your point? Do you find it difficult to not blurt, “I told you so?” in so many words? Must you “win” arguments at any cost… or turn off your listening ears because you already know the answer? Ego drives create conflict with others which is anything but peaceful. Let it go, and find that elusive solace you seek.
Quiet your mind. Do you often experience mental chatter? Replaying conversations in your head, expecting and preparing for an argument, imagining what you “should have said” and all the things that take us away from the present moment? Lamenting the past and/or worrying about the future creates mental noise which actually pulls you out of reality and into the prison of your own mind. Consider the reasons why you’re holding onto troublesome thoughts. Are you tense and in need of healthy release (jogging, yoga, massage)? Would you benefit from talking with a mental health professional? Peace isn’t always an other-people thing – sometimes we need to find peace inside of ourselves.
Seek out the company of peaceful people. Is there someone—a special friend, a teacher, —who always seems to embody that peaceful composure that is so compelling for you? Is there a great family you know who seems to have found the ability to commune in harmony – live, let live, and simply “be” with each other? Find peace in gentle people. Pay attention to their way of being in various scenarios. How do they communicate? What ways have they found to cultivate peace by respecting each other’s boundaries? Practice what you have learned. Absorb their peaceful spirit, and carry it with you.
Own the technology. Cell phones, computers, Facebook. It’s all so addictive and non-peaceful. The feeling you get when you’re talking with a friend and suddenly your phone beeps an alert that a message has come in. Give yourself the gift of peace by owning the technology instead of letting it own you. Shut off the phone when in the company of friends and family. Designate specific times of day to check email or use the computer. Taking back your presence of mind is the best way to embody the peacefulness you crave.
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