Friday, June 13, 2014

Peace Is A Choice!

  So... it has been quite a while since my last post! To anyone who enjoys my writing, I am sorry for dropping off the radar the past couple months. I have taken on another writing project which has been occupying all the spare time my fingers have, I will tell you more about what it is in another post. I have a few drafts of new blog posts in the works, hopefully I will be able to polish a couple of them up and publish them soon.

  The reason I am making a quick post today is to share a thought that put a smile on my face, and I hope it might do the same for you. I follow a wonderful non-denominational Facebook group called Goodness Matters that is a daily source of uplifting posts. I saw a great quote on there today that I decided to make into a wallpaper. (Click on the picture to see the full size version.)

  When we make the conscious choice to have an attitude which prioritizes a sense of peace that is *not* tied to our circumstances-- it can grow in us and become the center of how we view life each day. Taking control of our own perspective is a seriously magical form of empowering ourselves. Keep in mind that I am not talking about something idealistic which pretends to like the hard things in life. Bad things happen to good people, we don't have to pretend that we aren't hurt by our trials, we don't have to like it when something is really awful.

  We can totally not like what we are going through, and still exercise our power of choice to put our general *attitude* in a separate compartment from our frustrations and pains. This gives us a way to simultaneously be sad about some things and grateful for others. I think it is fair to describe something as magical when it transforms the world around you from a place that controls your ability to feel serenity, into a place that still challenges you but is no longer in charge of your ability to feel gratitude for the things that you really are grateful for.

  Another great thing about a consistent commitment to carrying around our own internal supply of peace is that it provides even more joy when we share that comfort with others! It is a natural human reflex to want to share something we are really happy about. By sharing my joy in a way that helps someone else feel better, it reenforces my gratitude for the discovery of compartmentalized peace!

  For a long time I couldn't see that peace really is a choice. Let's be honest, when life is hard it's totally human and normal to get buried emotionally and get in a rut of thinking things just suck and that's that. A choice to separate our attitude from our circumstances may sound like something for people who are naturally gifted with strong faith or annoyingly positive attitudes. So what I am actually trying to explain here is that compartmentalizing our sense of peace is actually the most realistic way of having peace in this crazy world.

  If we are hoping and waiting for life to stop doing things which so rudely throw off our zen, we are naturally going to have a hard time ever feeling peace-- because life is always going to throw rocks in our path, that's just the way mortality is.

  For example: I have been battling some life-changing medical problems for the last 6 years and I just turned 36 a couple weeks ago, but if you were to look at my medical records, on paper you would probably guess my age to be double that. I have therefore given myself standing permission to do my best old man voice and shout at kids to get off my lawn whenever I feel like it for my own entertainment.

  Twenty-something me still had a lot more growing up to do than I would care to admit and I actually hope that when I reach my forties I feel the same way when I look back on my thirties, because that should be a pretty good indicator that I have continued learning and growing. That is not to say I expect to be eternally unsatisfied, just that I always want to be grateful for the ability to learn.

  Ever since being thrown into an existence of  being pretty much forced to take life one day at a time the last few years, I have finally begun absorbing the following epiphany: If I allowed my attitude to match my circumstances, NO ONE would ever want to be around me... ever. If you have been blessed to not have to endure chronic pain or live with someone who has I am sincerely happy for you; but let me tell you, there is something about constantly being in pain every single day for months or years that continuously keeps your irritation level higher than it should be and makes it overwhelmingly easy to be the grumpiest of grumpy pants.

  Trust me, I know this type of pep talk is super easy to be skeptical about-- I am very pragmatic by personality so a certain amount of skepticism is automatic for me until I can see a vision of how to begin solving a problem. The truth remains though that it only takes a moment to decide we are serious about trying something new, and it definitely also takes work and transition time to make a new perspective stick. But I am here to 100% promise you that it is so completely worthwhile that it will blow your mind when it finally clicks in the middle of a horrible day that you really are in control of your own perspective. All I can say is just commit to giving the goal whatever you can give each day, even if all you can do is resolve to try again tomorrow. Wake up tomorrow and try again and don't expect it to go perfect... give it time and just do your best to keep an open mind and heart to the little victories you will have while you are walking the new mental/emotional path you have chosen for yourself.

  So anyway, we are all in the same boat and I feel for you. Even if I don't know you and you don't know me-- I feel for you because we are both human and we both feel joy and pain for our own unique reasons. Everyone has their own story, their own dreams, and their own scars. I respect that your path is naturally unique and I haven't walked in your shoes. I do know however that just as we share human vulnerabilities, we all bleed when we are poked... we also all instinctively know how to smile, we all just want to be happy, and that means there are principles in this world that we can all apply to our respective lives and gain something from. And that is worth sharing with each other, even if at the moment all we can do is hope to have hope someday.

  Look inside yourself and accept that yes there are a great many things we cannot control, so why not focus on the things we CAN control... like choosing to have our own "gratitude party" inside, that the rest of the craziness in the world is not invited to. Sometimes the best thing in life is just sitting outside and letting the sunshine warm you... and sometimes the fact that you have your own internal body temperature saves your life.