At peace – freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, any obsession, etc.; tranquility; serenity
When was the last time you felt really, truly at peace? Do you even know what I’m talking about?
No, I didn’t ask when was the last time your life was problem-free, disease-free, and stress-free; neither did I ask when last you sat quietly and tried to meditate or just think about life. I asked when was the last time you felt at peace – with yourself, with others, with your world.
It’s a hard one to come by isn’t it? This I know. It requires acceptance, forgiveness, patience, and hope – each of which comes with its own set of problems. Hard to come by? Yes. Impossible to come by? Absolutely not.
Acceptance. To be at peace we must accept ourselves as we are, accept people for who they are, and accept situations for what they are. This doesn’t mean that we don’t grow and change, or that situations can’t improve or change. It simply means that IN THIS MOMENT these are the people that are in this situation with you, and you must therefore use the best of yourself, others and your circumstance to get the possible outcome available RIGHT NOW. You can’t do that unless you accept it as it is. If all your efforts are focused on trying to change people or complaining about your circumstances you’ll never be at peace. (Just an extra note: why do we want everyone to do things exactly as we do? Can you say ‘boring’?)
Forgiveness. The boy who embarrassed you in primary or elementary school. The high school best friend who told all your secrets so people would like her. The mother who abandoned your family. The father who abused you. The spouse who was beyond disrespectful. The children who cut you out of their lives. They don’t appear to be equal crimes, but they do have a couple of things in common: 1) they hurt you, and 2) you need to forgive them. Please, those things are in my past, I don’t even think about those people. Maybe not often… but when you do, is it peace that you feel? Have you really forgiven them, or have you hardened yourself against the person and situation? It’s not the same thing. One frees you; the other traps you. One allows you to be authentic, the other means there are parts of yourself you don’t dare share. It’s a choice – a hard one, but a choice nonetheless. Be honest with yourself about what happened, accept it, and forgive that person – even if they never asked you to. Don’t forget to forgive yourself while you’re at it.
Patience. Rarely will things happen in the instant you think best. That doesn’t mean they won’t happen at all. Be patient. Learn to wait. One definition of patience is ‘quiet, steady perseverance’. Patience doesn’t always mean doing nothing in a situation. Sometimes, like in relationships and with finances, it means calmly continuing to work while you wait (active patience). In this ‘go get yours’ society the power of patience is often overlooked. Practice active patience. It’s a skill you won’t regret developing.
Hope. Without hope our lives would be stagnant. With nothing to look forward to, why look forward? Don’t get trapped in your past, in your mind, in your circumstance. Dare to dream – this is a cliche for a reason. If we’re alive, we should act like it (even if we don’t feel like it)! Life is a dynamic thing, there is nothing stagnant about it. This is a good thing. That energy-sucking illness could be gone tomorrow; that errant child may step through your door this evening; your joblessness may be a memory in a week; your grief may feel less burdensome in a month; that thing you need may grace your doorstep or mailbox in a minute. You are alive, and so there is hope. It’s an awesome thing, don’t give it away, and don’t take it for granted.
In short, don’t allow the past to lock your feet, or the present to drain you. Walk forward. 2017 awaits.