True peace and bliss lies outside of the experience of this world. However there are things that we habitually do to ourselves that cause far more suffering than is necessary. In my practice as a therapist over the years I’ve seen the same things pop up over and over again, both in my clients’ lives and the work I do for myself. So here are five keys to being at peace with who you are and what you have, that you can put into practice starting right now.
- No more Majoring in the Minors: Quick, name something that is important to you. Now do it again. Ok, one more time. Write these three things down. Memorize them. Now keep your attention focused on these things. Do not waste your energy, emotions, and time on anything that happens in the world that does not directly affect these things. You can actually make the list as long as you like, so long as you are sure to stick to majoring in the things that matter to you. “Majoring in the Minors” refers to be being caught up in the myriad events of life that have nothing to do with your purpose. Learn to let those things go.
- Train Your Mind to See Beauty: This world is full of ugliness, no doubt. What’s important to realize though is somehow we have trained our minds to filter out the positive/beautiful aspects of life to the point where we begin magnifying the ugliness. Every situation has two sides, even the rudest person in your life does kind and thoughtful and selfless things. Begin focusing on what is happening around you that supports your Purpose and I guarantee you your life will change for the better. Start by listing 5 things you are grateful for at the end of each day. If that’s too easy, make it 10. If it’s too hard, make it 3. The number doesn’t matter, but the intention is powerful.
- “What If” Credit is Due: This one comes in two parts. First, understand how often you create catastrophic outcomes in your mind. Usually this process begins with the words “What If…” Such as, “What If I never get a job,” “What if he leaves me,” “What if the plane crashes and I go to hell because I cursed out that priest yesterday.” To begin to be at peace today, say “What If” out loud 10 times. Now say it again 5 more times with your chest. Now let it go. From this day forward catch yourself in the middle of saying “What If” and let the thought go. Don’t finish the sentence, and if you already finished the sentence by the time you realize you’ve done it, just shake your head and move on. Nothing good comes from “What If.” Part two involves being able to give credit, even small amounts of credit, to yourself and others. It’s a pat on the back for any accomplishment made. Get in a congratulatory mood and you will find that demeaning self-comments and the general feeling of failure that nags at all of us will begin to fade into the background. You can do this right now. What have you done today that makes you proud or happy? It can be anything at all, say it out loud.
- “It’s Not About Me:” When it comes to dealing with other people there is no greater tool for inner peace than understanding this: What other people perceive and how they are acting around you has almost nothing to do with who and what you are. We are all in our own little bubbles, living out fantasies and stories we’ve been telling ourselves since childhood. The vast majority of us are on such an autopilot that our behaviors and reactions are set in stone. Sure, you may have dropped the glass of red wine on your host’s carpet, but his anger and snappy attitude towards you for the rest of the night is Not About You. People have chosen how they will show up in the world, so allow them to be themselves without having to take on their stuff. You have enough of your own stuff…believe that. So when the shopkeeper has an attitude or your best friend rushes you off the phone or your wife refuses to stop nagging you about past troubles: smile, take a breath, and say to yourself “this is not about me.”
- “It’s About Me:” Oh. You thought you were off the hook there huh? Nope. Sure, the way others behave is unrelated to you, however your actions, beliefs and FEELINGS are all yours. It’s hard for most to believe but not ever in the history of mankind has one human being MADE another human being FEEL a certain way. Unless they have access to special magics. Yeah, wizards and gurus and prophets are probably the only exceptions to this rule. But unless your coworker is a magical being, the way he talks to you does not MAKE you angry. Your beliefs about how you “should” be talked to or what level of respect you’re “willing to put up with,” completely contributes to how angry you become. If your party guest spills red wine on the carpet and you’re your anger comes, it is a direct result of the story you tell yourself about the spill. For example, thoughts like “he’s such a clutz,” “now I have to pay good money to get that cleaned,” “doesn’t he know better?” “my carpet is ruined now!” will definitely lead you to more disturbed feelings. Now, what if, in the same example you say to yourself, “yup, have a party and shit like that is gonna happen..shoulda known,” “it was bound to happen, we are having way too much fun in here for this carpet to stay clean,” “small price to pay for spending great time with my friends,” and voila, no anger. Same incident, different you. Try this for yourself: Think about a time someone “MADE” you feel a certain way, focus on their behavior, then consider how looking at it with a different point of view could lead a different person to an alternate emotional conclusion. Do this often enough and you’ll see that you always have control over your feelings, and peace is just a reframed thought away.
And that’s it…five strategies for a peaceful you and a more peaceful world. What do you think?