I’ve shared with you before that my lifelong goal has been peace of mind – an escape from worry, relief from constant anxiety. In my years pursuing peace, I’ve discovered this: each of us must carve a path for ourselves. No matter how appealing someone else’s methods or process, we must still make them our own.
Every one of us, then, creates our own path to peace – we must place the cobblestones, clear the meadows, lay the planks. Not one of us waltzes down someone else’s yellow brick road into nirvana.
However, it helps to learn of others’ journeys. Hearing others, walking with them for some part of the path, sharing our own travels with others – all of this makes it easier.
A friend of mine shares the wisdom of his (redneck) ancestors this way: “Everything is easy – if you know how!” It applies to anything you can think of – cars, radios, and computers, sure, but also relationships, sex, making money, and, yes, even finding peace of mind.
Peace is possible – when you know how.
Walk with me awhile today and I’ll share some of the insights I’ve gained that make peace easier. Use them on your journey, weave them into your own tapestry, transform them into stepping stones of your own.
These ideas, when I truly live them, bring me instant peace of mind.
#1 Let GO of Control
Yes, we’re starting with the big one. When we let go of our need to control, we have a lot more peace of mind. Because thinking we can control anything (other than ourselves) is crazy-making. Willpower – to make someone be who I want them to be, to make a situation turn out how I want it to, to force a solution because I think it’s right – brings only worry, tension, and anxiety…everything BUT peace.
When we let go of needing to control the outcomes, and simply focus on our own responsibilities for that moment or day, we get huge relief.
How we let go of control may be very individual. I use prayer and meditation, a box into which I put scraps of paper with my worries, positive words and phrases, reminders to “stop thinking,” readings, writings, signs and pictures on my walls and mirrors…whatever I can do to make the idea of letting go tangible and concrete.
You’ll find your own ways to let go. It’s got to work for you. Try not to delay until everything you let go of has claw marks in it.
#2 Get Present
The best antidote I’ve ever found for worry is getting present. When I’m in the moment, focusing on the thing right in front of me, I don’t have space in my brain for the past or the future. It can be as simple as washing the dishes; as long as I pay attention and put my mind where my body is, I get peace of mind.
Try it. Pay attention to what you’re doing in the course of a day. When your mind wanders off the task at hand, remind yourself to focus on the immediate action needed. If you’re having trouble with #2, return to practicing #1! Because anytime we worry excessively, we’re focused on things we have no control over. The only answer is to let it go.
#3 Develop Faith
Whether one believes in God or not, faith can help move us out of fear and into peace. Faith can be as simple as believing the sun will rise each day and give us another chance to do our best.
We can develop faith in our own abilities to make it through life’s challenges, or we can focus on faith in others, looking for the efforts of those around us to improve their lives.
We can develop faith by reflecting on our own lives for the times we’ve weathered storms and grown stronger without giving in to negativity. Faith is acknowledging that we’re still here and still trying to improve ourselves.
Look for some meaning or order in the world around us – that’s the basis for having faith that our own lives can unfold for the better.
#4 Take Responsibility Only for What’s in Your Control
Half and probably more of my worries were due to things outside my control – other people’s feelings and actions, what was going to happen tomorrow at work, world events, the outcome of tonight’s baseball game. When I was able to separate these from my real responsibilities, I found a lot more peace of mind.
My real responsibilities are very similar to yours. We are responsible for our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Period, end of story. We can’t control how others react to us, what world leaders will decide, or whether it will rain tomorrow. We can’t control whether the boss has a tantrum, the bus is late and we miss an appointment, or the family pet gets sick and needs to go to the vet.
But we can control this:
How we respond to the things we can’t control.
- We can practice calm in the face of reactions and tantrums
- We can decide how much of the news we take in and discuss with others
- We can put an umbrella in our car
- We can work on acceptance for all the delays, unexpected events, and surprises that life never stops throwing our way
I hope that these experiences with finding serenity might make your travels a little lighter. Perhaps they will become bricks in your own path. Take the ideas that help with you, and contribute your own in the comments section.
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