“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
I don’t think anyone wakes up and says, “Man, I hope today is chaotic.” But all too often, our lives seem to succumb to chaos, don’t they? Maybe it’s because of our job, our kids, our extended families. Maybe it’s—gasp—the consequences of our own actions. Whatever the reason, when the chaos kicks in, it tends to take over. Suddenly, peace seems completely unattainable, and it’s taking everything you have not to completely lose your cool.
Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, 73% of Americans regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress. And 77% of them regularly experience physical symptoms as a result of stress. Nearly half of Americans say stress negatively impacts their personal and professional life, and 30% say they are often or always under stress at work.
Peace Isn’t Dependent on Your Circumstances
Whew. It would seem we are a stressed out bunch. If this is what we’re up against these days, it’s hard to see how we can hope to find peace in our lives.
But here’s the thing: true inner peace isn’t dependent on your circumstances. Sometimes life is wonderful and peace is easy to come by. Other times, life seems like a series of one terrible event after another. But you can learn to cultivate peace despite the situations life throws your way. That’s true peace, because it lasts regardless of circumstance.
“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”Mahatma Gandhi
Try These 10 Things to Bring More Peace into Your Life:
Spending just a few minutes each day in meditation can greatly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Meditation is simply a mental exercise in which you quiet the mind and focus on one thing—often breathing, or a simple mantra. Meditation helps cultivate awareness, improve focus and increase calm. It has dozens of proven medical and psychological benefits—from reducing your heart rate and blood pressure, to increasing emotional stability and intelligence. There are tons of blogs, podcasts and apps available to help you start a meditation practice, and it really only requires a few minutes of your time each day.
2. Start a gratitude practice.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”Melodie Beattie
Cultivating gratitude in your life is simple, free, and it can make a monumental difference in the way you view the world around you. Studies have shown that grateful people are healthier both physically and mentally. People who practice gratitude are also more empathetic and less aggressive, have higher self esteem, and are more mentally resilient. Practicing gratitude can be as simple as jotting down the things you’re grateful for in a journal, or in a note on your phone. You might even want to create a gratitude board with some of the major things you’re grateful for, which can serve as a reminder when you’re having a particular tough day.
Focusing on gratitude helps you hone in on what really matters in life, and offers perspective when you feel like things aren’t going well (for instance, did you really have a BAD day, or just one bad experience on an otherwise good day?).
3. Fill your brain with goodness.
There’s a lot happening in the world to be stressed about. Some days the news seems like an endless cycle of terrible events. And while it’s important to remain informed about what’s happening in the world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by bad news, and that can lead to feeling hopeless. If you start to feel that way, take a little break from the news cycle. Put on a motivating podcast or some uplifting music instead. Check out good news media, like the Goodnewspaper, where they celebrate the good happening in the world. Getting in touch with the good things happening, instead of constantly focusing on what’s going wrong, is a great way to shift your perspective and feel more at peace.
4. Declutter your space.
Your physical space can have a profound effect on how you feel. A cluttered and disorganized space can leave you feeling overwhelmed and can take away from your inner peace. I highly suggest the KonMari method if you’re ready to dive into the deep end. If you just want a quick and easy place to start, grab some trash bags or boxes and start separating out things that you can donate or throw away. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can declutter and how much better you’ll feel once you start.
5. Let go of the urge to compare.
“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.”Galatians 6:4-5, NLT
It’s so tempting to compare our lives with the lives of those around us. But there’s a reason the Bible urges us to focus on our own work and quit comparing. For one, we are usually comparing our real lives with our assumption of what someone else’s life is like. And very often that is quite different from their reality. Comparison can also cause us to feel jealous of people, which can taint our relationships and stop us from seeing the good in our own lives. If, instead of feeling envy for what another person has, we can feel genuine happiness for them, we’ll feel much more at peace.
6. Get outside.
Spending even a few minutes outdoors has the power to uplift you and have you feeling more at peace. You can go for a walk or run, or simply stand outside and let the Vitamin D work its magic. No matter how busy you are, making a point to get outside for a little bit everyday will make a huge difference in how you feel.
7. Establish healthy boundaries.
Often, the difficult people in our lives seem like a roadblock to peace. Spending a lot of time around people who are unsafe or toxic can make our lives less peaceful. That’s why it’s so important to establish healthy boundaries that protect our peace and limit the influence these people have on us.
8. Don’t dwell on the past.
Ever meet someone who can recount every bad thing that’s ever happened to them, but can’t seem to find anything positive to say? Don’t be that person! Dwelling on the past, ruminating over ancient history, and holding grudges will do absolutely NOTHING to further your life or help you find inner peace. That doesn’t mean you allow people who’ve really hurt you to continue to do so. But it does mean you let go of the past and instead focus your energy on the present.
9. Turn off your notifications.
Our “always on” society certainly has its advantages. But being constantly subject to notifications from your devices can also make you feel less at peace. Most likely, the world will not stop turning if you take a few hours to disconnect from the constant chatter. You’ll also be amazed at how much more you can get done when you aren’t a slave to your notifications.
10. Stop worrying about what other people think of you.
Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.Lao Tzu
You could be the most incredible person who ever lived, and there would still be people who criticized you. You simply can’t find peace if you’re constantly trying to live up to other people’s standards. Remember that your values won’t always align with everyone else’s, and that’s okay. Be confident in yourself and in your decisions, and don’t let the opinions of others disrupt your inner peace.
Peacemaking in Practice
Most of these suggestions are very simple things you can start doing right away. You might be surprised how quickly you see a difference in the way you feel and in your interactions with others. If you’ve already put some of these into practice in your own life, I’d love to hear about your experience! What methods of peacemaking have been the most effective for you?