All of us want to be peaceful. But only some of us manage to be. The rest are in pursuit of it. Some even fight for it. Fighting for peace is like an oxymoron. How could one possibly ever be peaceful whilst fighting for it? Some of us say with this frustrated expression, frowned brow and touching our forehead – “I just want to be peaceful! That’s all!” The way we say it, even if peace was anywhere around, it would run away from there looking at how agitatedly we want it.
So, when you think of peace, what comes to your mind? The absence of your stressors or the presence of calmness? It’s very important to pay attention to this question. If you think you will be peaceful by removing the stressors, you may be making way for yourself to get further agitated. Sometimes it could be the presence of certain people around us whom we can’t do anything about. And if we wish that they magically disappear or change themselves – that may or may not happen. Their life is their story. Until they have learned their lessons, they will continue to be that way. But in the process, if you intertwine your life story with theirs like a cobweb, you will not be able to untangle easily. Instead, observe them from a distance. They are outside of you, right? Don’t bring their negativity inside of you. Leave that outside too! Don’t own their negativity.
Instead of thinking of removing the stressors (especially when it comes to people you can’t do much about), think of creating calmness within you. How do you create the presence of calmness? Below are three simple steps you could explore:
- Calmness is being free from agitation or strong emotions. One sure way to achieve that is by reducing the intensity of words that you use. If you are wondering how will that help, read on. Research has proved that words have a profound impact on our body and mind. The kind of words we use influence our feelings and actions every minute. Hence, it is of paramount importance to use mild words. There are two ways of saying anything – high intensity or low intensity. For example, if it is a rather warm day, we could either say with mild intensity, “It is rather warm today”. Or we can say with high-intensity words like, “Gosh! It is so damn warm. It is killing me! This is horrible.” Either which way you are saying it is warm. It is not going to get any more pleasant if you use strong words. Might as well use milder words so that the amount of internal frustration at least is low. Instead of saying, “I hate…”, consider saying, “I am not too fond of it”. You are saying the same thing, sans the internal disturbance, when you are using milder words. So, pay attention over the next hour to the words that you are using. Understand if they are high intensity or low intensity – and the effect they are having on you. If you want to be calmer, see what are the other ways of saying the same thing in a milder way. And if you want to go one step further, be intentional in developing your vocabulary of good words. Have more good words than bad.
- Lower your volume and make your voice sound soft and pleasing. Each of us has different textures in our voice – some are soft, some are gruff, some are base, etc. We are not referring to that here. What’s important is – whatever be your voice, be mindful of whether you are speaking in a high volume with a lot of emphases or speaking in a more pleasant way. Regardless of the texture of your voice, one can always sound pleasant. So, work with your own sound. Your voice has a lot of impact on how you feel. When you speak more emphatically or with a lot of force, your body is thrust into more emotions. When you intentionally lower your volume, you’ll notice you internally feel a lot calmer too. Imagine if someone suddenly comes and shouts at you – you will be taken aback right? Imagine if someone pleasantly talks to you, you feel more drawn to listening, right? Likewise, your own voice too, has a definite effect on you, as much as it has on others! Try it and see!
- Focus on what you want. The biggest reason why we lose our peace is that we are constantly trying to change something that is much beyond our control. In doing so, what happens is we tend to focus all our energies only on that one thing and ignore all the other good things around us. When you can change something, change it. When you can’t, accept it. If you can’t accept it, learn to live with it without getting absorbed by it. How do you not get absorbed by it? By focusing on something else that is worthy of your attention. The more time you spend thinking of things you can’t change, the more frustrated you will be. And you will lose the motivation to do things that you otherwise enjoy doing too. Instead, shift gears. Think of what you like, and spend your attention on that. Even if you don’t have time to do it, whenever you are thinking, think of what you want, rather than what you don’t want. By constantly thinking of bad things, if we can change it, then the whole world would have been different by now. But, that’s not how it works! No matter how much you look at a dirty car it is not going to get clean. It will be what it is. If it is your car, you can clean it. If it isn’t you just have to stop focusing on it, staring at it, and going and repeatedly touching it. (When I say your car, please don’t treat anyone outside of you as yours’ – yes, they may be your family. But they aren’t yours’. You don’t own anybody. The only one you own is yourself). You spend your time looking at your car and the inner workings and what it needs to make it shine.
Ultimately, the important thing to remember is we are the result of our choices. Not others’ actions. What they do is up to them, how we respond is up to us. You don’t have to be a saint. You can get angry or upset here and there. But don’t stay there for long. Remember that is not your car – and get your hand, eyes and head off it as quickly as you can. And peace will be yours!