Show Gratitude, Practice Mindfulness, and Listen
2018: Another new year filled with promise and resolutions. If you are like most of us, your plate is filled to overflowing. Do you ever say to yourself, “I wish I could just find a little peace?” What if 2018 is the year for you to experience peace?
In our very busy lives, with to do lists and global unrest, you may be feeling that peace is just impossible. My goal is not to give you one more should, like “you should be peaceful,” or one more item to add to your lists. I just want to show you how small steps can help you add peace to your daily life.
The following five “tips and tricks” are easy and enjoyable ways to impact your—and others’—lives for the better this new year.
1. Create a Peace Corner in Your Home
A Peace Corner is a neutral zone. It is a nurturing, calm place where you can carve out a quiet moment to use for meditation, to think about peace, to read a book or simply to be alone. It might be in a corner of a room, containing anything that calms and grounds you. You might have artwork or photos that inspire you, a chair and a lamp for reading, or your Gratitude Journal (see below). Or it can be super-simple.
My Peace Corner, a tiny sign, is in the kitchen to remind me to be peaceful at meals. I might be busy fixing dinner after a long day, feeling a little harried, but when my eye falls on this sign and its quiet reminder—Peace Corner—I slow down, smile at how frantically I’m rushing around, and take a big, deep breath. In that moment, I feel the peace that is right there, available to me, if only I am present to it: in the warmth of my home, the aromas of my dinner, and how good it feels to be alive, with a roof over my head and food on my table.
2. Start a Gratitude Jar or Gratitude Journal
On a slip of paper, write down one positive thing that happened or that made you happy today and put it in the jar. Whenever you are feeling upset or stressed, take one out and read it. I keep a Gratitude Journal, where I write short thoughts anytime I want to remember or review why I am grateful. It only takes a few minutes, and it lifts my mood every time. My friend uses her iPhone for her daily gratitude.
Sometimes gratitude arrives in interesting packages: While I was writing this article at 7am, my dear friend came in soaking wet and said that the faucet in the back had broken off and water was shooting out. Of course we took care of it, and while this doesn’t seem like something to be thankful for, I was so grateful I was home and available to help. The result was peace in my day instead of frustration and annoyance over the mess in the yard and the repairs that needed to be done.
3. Use “Smile Meditation”
Spend one uninterrupted minute a day smiling. This will lift your spirits as well as work to dispel any negative feelings. I have found a smile is contagious. I smile at fellow shoppers in Trader Joe’s, and I usually get smiles in return. What if you don’t feel like smiling? Remember the old saying, “Fake it till you make it.” A smile, just for yourself, can help you turn your whole day around.
4. Perform Small Acts of Kindness
It’s amazing how much brightening someone else’s day can brighten our own. Kindnesses don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Let someone go ahead of you in the checkout line. Tell the parent with the fussy child how beautiful their little one is. Say “good morning” to the school crossing guard, the barista, a fellow commuter, or the receptionist at the doctor’s office. At a 4-way stop, let another driver take “your” turn. Open the door for the person entering a building after you. Or just say a simple, sincere thank you on the phone, in the store, at home, or at work to those who are near—and even those who are not so dear. You never know just how meaningful your simple kindness may be to someone else.
5. Come Alongside
When speaking with someone who has ideas that are different from yours, take the time to learn and appreciate their point of view rather than debating with them. Life with our fellow humans is not a debate; it’s a dialogue. Coming alongside doesn’t mean giving up your values or giving in. It’s simply recognizing that others have their own perceptions and ideas, just as we do.
Peace is a journey, not a destination, and it begins with each of us. Small steps can lead to big changes. Look for opportunities to practice peace and watch how peace grows and expands to other aspects of your life. What have you got to lose but anger, frustration, stress and unhappiness?
Wishing you peace in 2018 and in all the years to come!