Peace and Quiet

peace-and-quietFor approximately twenty years when asked what I wanted most my response was “peace”. The long-time hope was the demands of work and responsibility would settle down and emotionally I would find real equilibrium with those I care about. Without knowing it “fake it until you make it” was what I was practicing the first ten years I gave that answer.

Soon I will be taking my life in a different direction and was struck this morning with thoughts about this thing I have referred to as “peace”. I asked myself, “Really, what is it you have been yearning for?”

From on-line definitions I crafted a composite meaning of “peace” that aligns with what I aspire to:
• A state of harmony, tranquility or quiet;
• Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts, and emotions;
• Harmony in personal relations;
• Free from strife;

After I read over that list a few times it hit me. “Peace” is almost entirely an inside job! I knew that, but have never had the clarity to completely accept the responsibility is mine. “Peace” has little to do with the circumstances of my life. Blaming external things for a lack of peacefulness is a distraction at best and a self-told lie at worst.

Accept what is: There is only so much we can affect. What we cannot change, what we cannot influence no matter what, should not be a concern to us. This is what I notice with so many people, in that we focus and linger on things which we have no control over. Why worry about something that all the worrying in the world will not change? Why care about what other people think of us when we’re not even sure what it is they are actually thinking? Once you open the blinds to this fact, and start accepting what is that you cannot change, you automatically relieve yourself of a mountain of stress and anxiety. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Taking this path is following a road towards peace.

Live in the present moment: Most of the time, what we worry about is relating to something either in the past, or something that hasn’t happened. Living in the present moment erases all such thoughts. Why worry about something in the past that we cannot ever change? Why worry about something that we are not even sure will happen or not? This is why in the present moment, you find true inner peace. In the present moment, there are no problems and no concerns. There is only stillness, and it is within that stillness that you can uncover peace.

Without doubt there is more peace in my life now that ever before. While far from a thorough practice, accepting what is and living in the present have had a sizeable positive impact on the quality of my existence. It seems so simple, but that wisdom was obscured from me by my own thoughts for many years. Gratefully I can see that now.

Nothing can bring
you peace but yourself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson