“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King Junior
The world is in complete commotion. With the Pandemic, the elections, and everything in between, we might feel like we are living in a blender. Life is hard, scary, and uncertain. The good news is that no matter how difficult our external life is, we can find peace each day. We can create it and then we can spread it. Finding peace will not magically change the world around us, but it can help navigate the uneasiness we may feel.
If we are not careful and intentional about creating peaceful moments in each day, it will be easy to get caught up in the stress of life. There is and always will be something we need or want to do; let’s prioritize peace into our day. When we do this, said peace will spill into other aspects of our lives. Here are my four tips to get started:
- Notice emotions. Recognize when we are starting to feel anxious, frustrated or stressed. Pay attention to what we are feeling, what we are doing that is contributing to said feelings, and what helps us regulate those negative emotions. This step is simply about stopping and paying attention to what we are feeling; doing something about it comes next.
- Make peace. There are so many different ways to create peace in our lives, and the exciting part is that there is no set prescription–we get to figure out what works best for us! We might start by asking for help, delegating, simplifying, prioritizing, or learning to say no. We may try meditation, praying, or spirituality. Journaling, reflecting on life, and pondering our thoughts and emotions are all helpful ways to foster peace each day. Many will find that making space for self-care promotes peace; painting, exercising, cooking, relaxing, playing a musical instrument, cleaning, organizing, pampering oneself, sleeping, serving others, spending time outside, and reading are just a few of the millions of ways we can practice self-care. It is one of the best and most effective ways we can achieve a moment of peace inside ourselves. Remember that it is normal to experience a range of emotions throughout the day. Learning to recognize our emotions and strive for equilibrium (peace) is the goal, and the key to doing that is by creating little pockets of peace throughout the day.
- Dwell on the good. Being grateful deserves its own bullet point as it is an amazingly effective way to slow down and consider what is actually going right in our lives and in the world. Learning to practice gratitude during a time like 2020 may not seem immediately obvious; while things may not be exactly how we would like them, we can always find something to be grateful for. It might be something small like a delicious meal, a productive morning, nice words from a stranger, or a beautiful sunset. Regardless of the commotion around us, we can always look and be grateful for the good. Gratitude fosters peace.
- Spread peace. Once we create our own small pocket(s) of peace, we will want to share it. We may see someone around us struggling and want to help in whatever way we can. We will want to spread our peace. Peace is contagious and regenerative; the more we share it, the more we will have of it. Once we have found what brings us peace, let’s share what has worked for us with our friends and family members. This is yet another way to engender more peace–bringing it into our conversations and encouraging others to seek it for oneself and then to share it.
While I, too, feel anxious about the current state of our country and the world as a whole, I know that feeling peace is possible. Though these times are uncertain and frightening, actively looking for and finding peace each day will calm us. As we seek and spread peace, things will get better both in our lives and in the world as a whole. Peace begets peace.
If you find you need additional help in creating pockets of peace, I would highly encourage sitting down with a licensed, trained therapist. This year has been incredibly taxing and many have benefitted from counseling, both in person and online. Please contact me today with questions; my door is always open!
Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.