Promoting Peace: What Can You Do to Make a Difference?
We recently wrote about peace, but these are such fraught times that we feel called to give it further attention.
PHIL: If you want peace, you start by being peaceful yourself. Peace within has to be your go-to position. You may not be able to maintain it; you may get thrown off by someone else trampling your boundaries, by something that happens in the world, or by some internal part of you that reacts to events. If that occurs, reflect afterwards on what happened so you can be better prepared next time.
But consider your effect on other people. They can sense your peacefulness because we are all hard-wired to read body language. Of course, that reading is a sense and doesn’t necessarily reach consciousness, but still, they’re going to react, they’re going to feel less threatened; in other words, they’re going to feel more peaceful themselves. And there you have it; you’re spreading peace in the world.
The basis for this feeling of peace is how we feel about and see other people – are they threats or are they allies? Both kinds of people exist, but consider which attitude is uppermost, how do you approach them? You may not have looked at what your attitude is, but it is closely connected with that feeling of peace; it’s harder to feel peaceful when other people are a potential threat.
This feeling of peace is precisely that: a feeling, and until it is recognized and described and labeled, you won’t be aware of it, you won’t be able to cultivate it and nurture it, you won’t notice its presence or absence. Look at those moments in your life when you can rest without agitation; look at the different feelings that different people bring out in you. There are words for feelings and emotions that don’t exist in English, like hygge or zeitgeist. Some have made their way into English; some haven’t. By naming a feeling, it is that much more tangible, and the same applies to the feeling of peace.
And where does that feeling come from? Darwin popularized the idea of a world of competition, but this tends to obscure the fact that life is interdependent. Plants use energy from sunlight, trap it in carbon compounds, and produce oxygen as a waste product. Animals recover the energy from those carbon compounds using the oxygen, hence plants and animals depend on each other. Humans are interdependent; we survive by living in groups. Peace is the visceral knowledge of our part in all of this, and we find it when we sit in nature or commune with another.If you want peace, you have to start by being peaceful yourself #peace #quote #relationships Click To Tweet
MAUDE: I was talking with a dear friend the other day, and we started discussing peace and how much it is on our minds and hearts these days. We discussed the feeling of hopelessness that seems so prevalent and what to do about it. After recounting a few stories of her experiences searching for peace within her interactions, she said that in order to have peace you need to feel peaceful inside yourself and then find ways to share and spread that to each one of your relationships.
We began looking at what we can do personally. I shared my appreciation of a project called I Declare World Peace, in which people create a short video with their personal declaration, and these videos from all over the world are available to view. Making such a video is very empowering. You stand up in front of the world and you declare peace. It is simple and it has a profound effect. It is my belief that by the very act of putting it out there, you bring change.
I have set aside ten minutes a day (hopefully soon to be done twice) to go within, find that place of peace within myself, and quietly, firmly project it outward.
If you want peace, you have to be peaceful. If you want to spread peace, find peace within yourself. This is a process that takes a conscious dedication to observing and opening yourself to finding a peaceful solution in any given event. As you grow in skill, you will more naturally come from peace.
First and foremost, peace has to become a top priority for you. A true peace; not a peace born of withholding your truth and authenticity, not a peace of suppression or even compromise. It must be the deep peace that leads you to feel mutuality, connectedness, and trust for others. When you have this basis, it is also easier to see what the right action for you is. Most of us have a variety of possible responses to any given encounter. When peace is your priority, that leads you to move past any initial responses of defense, suspicion, alienation or separateness.
I had an experience the other day that offered me that opportunity. We have a homeless person renting a storage garage from us. There was a pile of things outside the garage after he left. We have had to set limits clearly for him a number of times, and I reacted at first with annoyance and impatience. Part of me was angry that he was ruining the area for everyone by piling up junk. I went within for the loving and peaceful response, as that’s the one I choose to come from. I felt a warmth and assurance as the edginess and negativity left me. I wrote him a gentle note reminding him to keep all his stuff within the garage and felt the calm that comes when I act from peace.
What follows as you work on your inner peace is a constant flow of opportunities to choose peace over other responses. The more dedication and awareness you bring to this process, the more successful you will be. Peace is a force that works within you once you choose it, and it will find its way through you and out into your relationships and the greater community. It is recognizable, it is palpable, and it is contagious.
Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Photo note: Love Stone in Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden
Read what some other writers have to say on this topic.
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