The kids are crying and demanding some attention, the dog is chasing the cat, the phone is ringing and you are making dinner. There is another few hours to put in before you can put your feet up and breathe. Dreams of far-away places drift into your mind, thoughts of living alone on a sunny beach where the only sound you hear is the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore. Imagine being there – slowly dropping the tension that you unconsciously hold in your body as you watch the waves come in and go out with regular monotony. Ah the dream existence! You could be a great person if only you lived there in peace.
The Search for Peace
Life has a way of urging us on to doing things faster and add more things into our day. Is there a sense of peace in our lives anymore? What is peace anyway and what do we need to do to achieve it? Is it absence of any demand from the world or from others, or is it feeling like we are in control?
We all have our own definition of what a peaceful life might be which will differ between individuals. In order to create peace in our worlds we often make varied attempts to influence our environment to create the kind of world around us that allows us to experience what we might call peace. Sometimes we expend a lot of our resources planning with or instructing others in what we would like them to do in order to create our ideal environment. The result? We may all be pulling each other in different directions and leading ourselves into conflict and chaos. The problem is that our lives are intertwined with others and our behaviours impact on them and their behaviour impacts on us, either in positive or negative ways. Attempts to elicit co-operation from others is likely to leave us feeling completely frustrated by others’ lack of co-operation with our wishes and ideals.
The Change In Our Approach
Perhaps it is time to rethink how we achieve what we call peace. Is there a way to live in peace that doesn’t involve others’ co-operation? The answer to that question is, ‘yes’. Our attempts to manage others’ behaviour and their resistance to our efforts leaves us feeling resentful and frustrated, moving us further away from our goal of peace. The most effective way to achieve behaviour change is to seek it from within ourselves. Peace does not need to be derived from our environment but from our own perceptions, behaviours and thoughts. Any change we make to lower our stress will lead to improved health and a greater sense of wellbeing – placing us on the road to achieving peace.
What are some things we can do to change our unhelpful behaviours?
Some things we can consider are the following:
- Be prepared to do some things a little differently to the way you might now do them – ask yourself, ‘what can I change to lower stress’?
- Allow your external environment to go on as it will, without trying to influence others to behave as you wish they would.
- Rather than react to your environment and let it dictate what you will and will not do, set time aside to plan your week by asking yourself, ‘what would I like to achieve this week?’.
- After planning what you would like to achieve, now narrow your focus to the day ahead and plan your actions in order to achieve what is required on that day. There is no need to fill every moment of the day! Take some ‘time out’.
- With that plan in mind, begin working toward your first goal and discipline your mind to stay on that goal until it is achieved.
- Practice being creative with your thoughts in order to keep your mind on what you are doing right now.
So, what is peace and how do we achieve it? Peace is not creating an ideal environment for ourselves, but it is rather a state of calm inside of us which is not necessarily related to our external environment. Peace allows for flexibility within us in order to flow with whatever is occurring within our environment, whether it fits with our plans and desires or not. Peace contributes to good health and a sense of wellbeing, leading us to feel in charge of ourselves without the need to exert influence on others.