World peace is a nice idea, but when news of conflicts from around the world are so abundant on my screens I can find myself drowning in despair.
I’ve learned some simple tricks to help me foster peace in a battle-torn world. First of all, the world is not my responsibility. Of course people are suffering, yet just because I know about it doesn’t mean I should do something about it. I have choices.
Someone once told me, “Detachment is the key to peace.” When I read a headline about homeless people in the cold I have two choices: do something about it or let it go. Fretting about “what needs be done” or lashing out at someone else with blame are generally not good choices; they just foster, well, fretting and blame.
The trick is to foster peace in my head rather than in the world. What can I do to foster peace at home, peace with myself? My trick: I draw a line between what I can change and what I can’t. I can’t change you, for instance. And I can’t change Congress. But I can be nice to you. And I can write to Congress.
Another trick? I read historical novels and learn about the struggles of those who have gone before me. I get to see that right now, it’s not so bad. It could be worse. I develop gratitude for the current plight when I see it in the context of historical plights.
Here’s a third trick: I try to help someone else. If you want to feel good about yourself, do good things. Not think good things or post good things, but actually do good things. It brings me peace to look back on my day and take stock of what I gave, not what I got. When I try to make a ledger of what I received, it often turns into a list of “what I should have received.” For some crazy reason — maybe because I’m human — I tend to focus on the deficits. Gotta fix that. Gotta remember: I am owed nothing.
I’m not good at these tricks. Actually, right now, I’m writing this to myself. I’m reminding myself of what works to bring me peace. I’m vowing to do better.
There is no truer statement than “peace begins at home.” Doing things to make yourself more peaceful is not selfish, it’s practical. Because here’s the thing, when I’m at peace with myself it’s contagious and people nearby might catch it.