There is enough war in this world and much of it takes place on the homefront, within us. It is on the homefront, the places inside of us where we are not at rest, the places inside where we are angry, judgmental or hold shame, then mirror this out to the world….where the wars start. And this is the best place to actively work to create peace.
Ghandi was spot on when he said, “Be the change you want to see in this world.” There is another version of this quote which resonates with me, too. “Be the peace you wish to see in this world.”
But it isn’t easy, is it?
Peace takes commitment and it doesn’t take much, a cross word, a driver going too slow in the fast lane, an irritable sales clerk, to knock us out of our peacefulness.
For instance, I was in the grocery store yesterday when I was inadvertently knocked out of my peacefulness. I was shopping when I became distracted by a worker who was buffing the floors with a loud, shrill, noise making machine. The sound pierced through my ears and rattled my teeth and instantly put me on edge.
I felt frustrated as there seemed no escaping the noise, no matter which aisle I roamed, he appeared. I began to feel righteous, telling myself the store should know better, it should see to it that this work be done after hours so shoppers wouldn’t be subjected to the noise. After my internal tirade, I started to feel guilty for feeling so judgmental and frustrated about my first world problem. This created more internal turmoil.
But then, something shifted. I decided to choose peace: I took a deep breath to calm myself. For a moment I blocked out the noise and looked at the man and saw how hard he was working. I noticed his smile and how clean the floors appeared (they really were!).
And just like that, I relaxed and went about my shopping experience. The noise was still there but somehow with a slight attitude shift, it became more background music (though Heavy Metal background music).
I know this is a small thing, but it is an example of how we can reframe things when we’re frustrated.
We always have a choice. When we’re disagreeing with a loved one or a friend or co-worker, we can choose to hold back some of our angrier thoughts. We can work to censor our lower selves, though this is one of the most difficult things in life to do.
I believe peacefulness comes easier for some than others. I know I have to work at it by praying and meditating and using lots of encouraging self-talk. Sometimes my hard work pays off, sometimes not.
But when I choose peace, I feel better. And those times when I choose to be right, or judgmental, I don’t feel peaceful at all. I feel….righteous, judgmental and the opposite of peaceful.
So today, on International Peace Day, I choose peace. When I leave my house today to shop, I will be peaceful with store clerks. I will be peaceful behind the wheel of my car even if someone is driving too slow ahead of me.
I will put peace into action all day and pray for a more peaceful world, knowing that peace begins with me.
Happy International Peace Day.
If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace, particularly at midlife, read my book Tao Flashes. Or visit me at http://www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.