Thursday, April 28, 2016

Peace And Quiet

A peaceful life begins with a peaceful mind. It starts on the inside. If you are at peace with yourself, you can be at peace with the universe. If you are not at peace with yourself, you will not find peace anywhere in the universe. Far too often, people go looking for peace and only manage to take their personal conflict along with them wherever they go. It’s a vicious cycle that can only get worse the more you look outside. If you want peace you have to start at the source, and the source of your peace will always be within yourself.

That is not to say that you can’t get outside assistance. If you have a cut on your hand, it is your body’s own healing mechanisms that will fix the injury, but you’re bound to give it what help you can with such things as cleaning and bandages if you want the healing to go well. If it’s really bad, you may even go to a doctor for stitches. If the doctor tells you to wash the wound and change the bandages three times a day and you don’t follow instructions, though, it’s going to get worse instead of better. You can get help - sometimes you will require help - but it ultimately comes down to you in the end. You can’t just go to some outside source and say, “Fix me;” not without surrendering everything that makes you a living human being, at least. It’s up to you to drive the process for you.

It’s one of those ideas where the distinction is so subtle that it is easy to miss, yet so great that it makes all of the difference in the world. You can’t go looking for peace, but you can go looking for help. If you are having trouble, it’s possible that some of the techniques you have tried which did not work, did not work because you had this relationship backward. Try again, remembering that peace comes from within while help comes from without. You might be surprised by what a difference that little thought can make.

Begin with the belief that peace is possible. You may have to take this on faith at first. Believing in peace while you are in turmoil can be one of the most difficult things you do, but you will need it, and you probably already know it is true. You’ve just forgotten. You haven’t always been in turmoil, but I certainly understand that being in turmoil right now can make that difficult to remember. This is the proverbial difficult but necessary first step though. Believing that peace is possible will lead you toward peace being possible. At worst, what do you have to lose? If things are already bad, believing they can get better will not, in itself, make them worse. Have a little faith, take that first step, and see what happens.

Remove yourself from the problem as much as you can. If you got that cut on your hand by grabbing a knife at the wrong end, let go of the knife. If you are drinking too much, remove yourself from the influences to drink. If you’re arguing with someone and all you’re accomplishing is angering each other, walk away. You can’t fix every possible cause of turmoil by yourself, but fix what you can. Take the immediate steps that are within your power to take, and what is left to address will at least be a smaller problem. You don’t have to handle everything at once. Life can be huge. Give yourself the option to take it in smaller pieces.

Take the time for peaceful activities. You cannot create peace from the outside, but you can encourage peace within by engaging with peace from without. What these peaceful activities might be must be decided by you, but they should be activities that are relaxing and soothing. Take a walk in the woods or on the beach. Meditate or pray. Listen to soothing music. These are not crisis intervention steps we’re talking about here. That is something different. These are relaxation steps, and you should know what kinds of things you find to be relaxing. If you don’t know, take the time to find out. This is important. For that matter, even if you do know, it wouldn’t hurt to find out more. You may find yourself in an environment where a preferred relaxation technique is not available, so having options can only be a good thing.

Be mindful of your situation. Admit when you are having trouble, and name what is giving you difficulty. The first step to solving any problem is knowing what the problem is. If you’re really having trouble, try writing it down. Write down the problem, write down what you think of the problem, and write down your thoughts around the problem. Look at it from different angles. Sometimes doing this will reveal that it isn’t as big or as bad as you have allowed it to become in your mind. Sometimes this will unlock possibility you hadn’t considered that may even lead to solutions. Even just knowing is almost always better than stumbling around in the dark.

Allow yourself to be at peace. Just as you need to begin with the belief that peace is possible, you have to let it happen when that faith is rewarded. Many people find this step to be just as difficult as the initial belief. Some even find it to be more difficult. Maybe you don’t believe that you deserve peace, or that you haven’t earned it. Whatever is getting in your way, set it aside and let peace happen. You won’t become more deserving by going the other direction.

Rinse and repeat. The human mind is capable of making a habit out of almost anything with enough practice. The more you practice the steps to finding peace within, the more peace you will find within. The more you practice being at peace, the more peace you will have. Make a habit of being at peace and you will soon learn that being at peace is your natural state of being. You are going to make habits anyway. You may as well make them good habits.

If you are new to the idea of finding peace within, you will probably face many interruptions along the way. That’s perfectly okay. You may even be reading this because you are already dealing with those interruptions, and that is also fine. Life can sometimes be a series of interruptions, and who you are is largely defined by how you face them. That is something you can change any time you want. Just because you faced your interruptions one way yesterday doesn’t mean you have to do so the same way today. Every day is new, and you can be new every day as well. If you are in crisis of any kind, do what you need to do to get through that crisis, but have a plan for what comes next. After you have bandaged the wound, how are you going to get on with the healing process? Use what you have learned, what has worked in the past, and keep learning for the future.

Most people will never know a life where there are no crises. Even people who do not deal with mental or emotional issues will still find surprises and loss in life. Some people may face crises more often, but that’s a difference of degree, rather than a difference of kind. If you have a peaceful foundation and a working crisis plan, you’ll get through. The more peaceful the foundation, the less often you’ll need the plan. It can be a difficult journey, finding that peace within, but it gets easier as you go. Once you get going, it’s mostly downhill, and the view is pretty spectacular once you find it. It’s worth the trip.

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