"There is no path to peace. Peace is the path."
Last year, we had a Word of the Month series that coincided with Joy's travel adventures. In addition to exploring a different country and culture every month, we also wanted to share a discussion about different emotions with parents, caregivers, teachers and kids. Read on to learn more on about the topic of peace.
Peace and quiet is a desirable gift for many parents in the world. With all the responsibilities of being an involved parent, a moment to relax and be without any deadlines, instructions or demands seems almost too good to be true. Becoming a parent is an important role filled with responsibility-saying you are busy is merely an understatement. With this in mind, can achieving a state of peace still be a possibility for all us parents out there?
Well, I believe it depends on your definition of peace. In social media and advertising, peace is painted as a beautiful, vacant tropical island with white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters and a hammock swaying softly in the fresh air. All you can hear are the ocean waves, birds flying around and the sound of your own breath as you relax under the warm sun with a cool, refreshing drink. Although this scenario sounds lovely and definitely peaceful, it isn't something that all of us can feasibly attain whenever we need a moment of peace and quiet. So does that mean we are out of luck? Do we just throw in the towel and continue climbing the mountain of overwhelming tasks we need to handle?
No, not in my opinion-especially if we want to live healthy and fulfilling lives and really enjoy our moments on this earth. So what do we do if we can't reach that media-generated ideal of peace? Well, first off, whose definition of peace is that magical tropical island? Of course almost anyone would love that scenario, but is that really what peace is? Should we suffer through years and years of stress until we can finally reach a point where we may be able to experience a peaceful moment on that island somewhere in the future? It all just doesn't seem right and that is what inspired me to take a step back from what society defines as peace, and Gandhi's quote above, "there is no path to peace. Peace is the path," helped me in understanding this.
So, I thought, instead of being miserable and thinking I have to work towards finding some type of peace in some faraway land, how about I start looking within to see what brings me peace in the here and now? Here is a quick list of things that bring me peace and joy:
Laying alone on my bed taking a break and listening to music. It feels nice to stretch my body, take some deep breathes, smile and just lie there.
Reading books like The Power of Now or The Four Agreements-it is even more enjoyable when I feel the cool breeze blowing from my window and the sun kissing my skin as I am reading.
I experience great amounts of gratitude, love and peace when I see my family healthy, happy and safe.
Ordering my favorite chai tea latte at Starbucks and enjoying it as I sit and talk with my husband.
Thinking about all this, I realized that peace can be found in any moment of my life, but only if I choose to see it. If I pay attention and let myself feel it, I will recognize that peace is there, within me, waiting to be felt. I just have to open the door and say, "hello peace, I am ready for you!" What is beautiful about the word peace is that the meaning will differ from person to person. To some, peace may be playing golf, taking their dog for a walk, writing, dancing, running or volunteering. We can all take pleasure in feeling peace in our own way and we can feel it and share it with others any moment we choose to, not having to succumb to what society defines as peace. Most of us would enjoy that peaceful beach vacation (I know I wouldn't turn it down!) and there is nothing wrong in working towards that, if that is your goal, but don't deny yourself being happy and experiencing peace in your life now just to possibly feel it "perfectly" one day in the future.
If you're having a typical busy day, running around with no moment to yourself, what is the easiest thing you can do when you want to feel some peace? SMILE. That's it, you ask? Yes. As Mother Teresa beautifully said, "peace begins with a smile."
According to Psychology Today, "each time you smile you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness." Smiling activates the release of several feel-good hormones in your body that help lower stress, alleviate pain and lifts your mood-all organically without any side effects! Now that sounds like a great way to bring a little peace into my life! It is also a great thing to teach our children when they are angry, sad or frustrated and feel stuck in their funk. I've found that giving my little girl a hug, smiling at her and asking her to think of something that makes her smile always helps. Once they smile, smile even bigger, tell them how wonderful they look and ask how they feel. Share with them the science behind what happens to their bodies and minds when they smile and empower them to change their mood and perspective just by smiling. One of the greatest moments for me is when you I see the light in my little girl's eyes and hear her giggle after being stuck in an unhappy moment. It's like the sun rising on a fresh new day.
It's also good to remember that children get overwhelmed just like adults, especially with all they are involved in such as school, extracurricular activities and friendships. A great way to help them find some peace in the moment is to play a game called PeaceMakers by Generation Mindful that "helps children explore their thoughts and emotions in daily, playful ways, building emotional intelligence in as little as five minutes a day."
It's a great way to take time as a family to create moments of peace together. Even just spending 10 minutes of time doing something that makes you feel happy and peaceful can change your family's mood and create a closer bond. I encourage anyone reading to try it out, and if you do, we would love to hear your experience!
Now, let's find out the different ways people find peace in their lives and what it means to them with this question:
What does peace mean to you and how do you find peace in the moment?
Share your response with us in two ways:
Email us your answer(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We truly appreciate your participation and support!
Writing this blog has been a peaceful experience, and one that I greatly enjoyed. I hope that someone will find it helpful in their quest for inner peace as well.
Have a great day!