Ways to Find Peace in Our Hectic Lives
Sometimes everyone feels like they could do with more peace. Our world is increasingly full of excitement but peace is a much rarer commodity. It often starts and follows from what we feel and so I’ve put together a few ideas to about how we might find it:
1. Reduce Expectations
Shakespeare said that “expectation was the root of all heartache“ and there is much in what Dennis Wholey said – “expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” If we expect others to behave in a certain way and do certain things, we are asking for trouble. People have their own lives and their own needs. It’s best to be grateful for any valuable time they give us and not become stuck in the expectation of more.
2. Be Mindful of Others (but not a Busy-Body)
It is a good thing to put others first and to help them as much as we can, but that does not include “knowing” what’s best for them. It is unlikely that you will be thanked for trying to make someone do something that they’d rather not. Excessive interference is ultimately good for neither of you. It’s better, instead, to concentrate on putting your own life in order and finding your own peace of mind.
3. Forgive and Forget
Dwelling on grievances can really damage your peace of mind, especially at night, when lack of sleep can make things even worse. Life is too short to waste time holding a grudge. It may well be a good and healthy idea to let someone know that you were hurt by their actions, but then perhaps it’s best to leave it at that and move on. Forgiveness is a powerful thing for the giver as well as the receiver. If you are still thinking of revenge, remember this quote: “While seeking revenge, dig two graves – one for yourself.” (Doug Horton)
4. Don’t Crave Recognition
A job well done is its own reward. If you are doing something well, it will be recognised in time and whilst we all like to hear some appreciation, it is best not to crave for it. Peace of mind will follow when our work and dealings are their own reward.
Everyone has met narcissistic (hugely self-absorbed) people who love to be praised but seldom say anything appreciative back. Unfortunately narcissists are the least likely of people to spot this within themselves. If you have an important person in your life who is narcissistic, remember that a word of encouragement from someone you trust and respect is of much more value.
5. Avoid Jealousy
Life is not always fair and we need to accept that. Sometimes people less hard working or deserving than you will get ahead of you. Nothing will be gained by blaming others for this misfortune and jealousy will not get you anywhere – but it may play havoc with your peace of mind.
Jealousy like this can often manifest itself in different forms of anger such as sourness or sarcasm. Working with a counsellor can be very useful in helping to unravel this.
6. Be Grateful for the Joys that Do Come
People at the end of their lives seldom say that they wish that they had worked more but they often wish that you had had more joyous experiences. Joy cannot be chased, but it is likely to be found when we feel connected with other people and if we receive and give love. Whenever you feel joy, try to be mindful that you are experiencing it. No joys are permanent, but don’t be afraid to accept them because you fear they will pass. It’s better to be grateful and be ready to accept them the next time they come along.
7. Try to Be Gracious about Your Troubles
Complaining about every setback that happens to you will not make you pleasant to be around. Life is full of suffering - numerous inconveniences, disappointments, illnesses, problems and upsets, most of which we cannot hope to have any control over. We can try to change the problems which are solvable, but those we cannot are better borne with patience. It is helpful to remember what the German writer Goethe said: “Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.”
8. Don’t Take On Too Much
Will your life be better if you take on yet another task whether it be for more money, better skills or a more successful social life? It is probably better to rest or to spend some time being instead of doing. Peace of mind is more likely to be achieved by going for a walk, meditating, pursuing a hobby or simply listening to the sounds of nature than it is by adding another thing to your hectic work or social calendar. Try not to be an adrenaline junkie - if you are worn out, seek more peace rather than more excitement.
9. Try to Achieve More Balance in Your Life
We can easily get out of balance if we do too much of one or two activities at the expense of others that we know are good for us. Sometimes that imbalance can be caused by excessive drivenness, sometimes by fear (of failure for instance) and sometimes by selfishness. Regaining balance can be best achieved by “listening to your body.” Often it will tell you what you need more of – food, sleep, excitement, love, exercise, rest, peace...whatever it is.
Practising something spiritual on a regular basis can also be a good way of finding balance. By spirituality I simply mean feeling yourself connected to things and a part of the whole. Meditation is another good way of relaxing and calms the mind down a great deal. This can be simple breathing exercises.
10. Avoid Regrets
Sydney Smith was wise when he said, "regret for the things we did can be temepered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable." This may not apply if we do something truly awful (on the level of murder for instance) but it probably does for everything else. We cannot change the past, but we can change the present and the future. If there is something that you have always wanted to do, then why not plan to try it, even if it is a hard thing? It is better to try and fail than not to try at all.
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