THE FIRST PLACE TO CREATE PEACE

How often have you heard that we live in a crazy, chaotic world? If you don’t hear it daily from someone you know, you can read it splashed across the television screen, on the front page of the daily newspaper and on every social media site you go on. Reading and absorbing all of this negative news can leave us feeling scared, overwhelmed or exhausted. Sometimes we can feel all three with a host of other unpleasant emotions thrown on top! What are we left to do when we have a day feeling this way?

What many of fail to lose sight of is the fact that if we have inner peace, the outside world has little, if any, impact on our life. Sounds great, but if having inner peace was so easy, how come everyone is not sitting in the park in a state of bliss. To some extent it is not our fault…exactly. We have been lied to by the media, politicians and others. We have been told that we should worry if hypothetically we have a world leader that seems determined to make enemies of friends, create a world filled with division and hate. We have been told to worry if others different than us seem to be receiving some sort of advantage. Countries are about to go to war. The price of oil is going to go through the roof. The stock market is going to fall through the floor.

The truth of all of this is that while some of it may have an impact in our life to a greater or lesser degree, it is mostly beyond our control. We can do what is in our power such as voting against that politician or writing our congressman. We can plan trips and do our best to make the most of the fuel we purchase. If we spend countless hours being upset and discussing or even worse disagreeing with our friends and coworkers about it, that will do us no good.

I have spoken at length about worrying about what you cannot control. The benefits to such actions simply are not there and the negatives abound. First of all it will create stress. Stress has been noted to be a factor in over 80% of medical conditions. In addition, stress causes you to age prematurely. In other words, you will look older and possibly experience health problems sooner. Sounding good so far? I didn’t think so.

As if compromising your health and physical appearance were not enough, lacking inner peace and worrying about and complaining about things outside of our control can affect our social life in a negative way. Almost nobody likes to be around someone who is stressed out and complaining all of the time. I said almost because the only people who seem not to mind are those who complain themselves. Not exactly the people you would want to surround yourself with.

Lastly, and in my mind most important, dwelling on what is wrong does little if anything to create solutions. It is important to note what is wrong in order to define what we would like to be happening, but dwelling on how wrong or terrible it is does us no good. Instead, it would be better to focus on how wonderful the solution would be and what steps we could take to make it happen.

To foster inner peace starting today let us focus and discuss what is beautiful and right with the world and how we can grow that. When we come across something that is not right, let us do what we can in our control to change it and focus on what would like to see. When we see someone who could use some inner peace, share with them what we learned in this article.

SITTING ON A BENCH WITH JESUS

Years ago I used to ponder why the world was as it is. Why, if there is a supreme being, is the world filled with hate, jealousy, racism and the like? Why did I find a lot of those things in my life as well? It was on one of my darkest days in which I finally received the answer. I wasn’t sitting on a park bench like the man in the picture above. I was in a library trying to find a book that would give me some advice on turning my life around. Some books were way to metaphysical for me at the time. Some were very complex and involved psychological phrases you would need a degree to decipher. While getting frustrated at the lack of a book for the average Joe to turn their life around, a voice in my head spoke to me. “If you can’t find one, write one.” From that day forward I have continued to find tools to help the average individual live a more positive and rewarding life.

What led me to this dark and dreary day in the life of Neil was a lot of circumstances. Professional, personal and my surroundings. By surroundings I mean things such as some of the music I was hearing, shows on television I saw, what I read in the newspaper and what I witnessed people doing to each other around me. Again, I began to wonder how the spiritual powers that be would allow such things.

The answer to that question was very similar to the first question I asked, except this one was a riddle of sorts. (yes, even my own head doesn’t always give me a straight answer) “How do you change a dark room?” This may sound foolish until you look at it in the terms of the world as a whole. If you want to lighten up a dark room you do not work on ‘removing the darkness’ you simply add light. If your glass is half-full you do not try to remove the air you just add more water, or rum, or iced coffee, but I digress. If we all remained focused on removing the negativity from the world we would create a vacuum that could very well be filled with…well…more negative things. The only way to decrease the negativity in the world is to add more positivity and love.

Another shocking revelation is that either one of these situations, love or hate, mankind does to itself. We make the choices. If we sit back and do nothing to counter the troubles we see in the world we are allowing it to happen. If you see someone hungry give them food. If you still watch the news and hear about some group being discriminated against, do something to make someone feel more loved and accepted. As the saying goes, “God helps them who helps themselves.” This is not just true for one person, but for all of us everywhere and the world as a whole.

A HIGH SCHOOL REUNION AND TWO OLD MEN

A customer came into the post office the other day to mail thank you cards to people who showed up to her 40th high school reunion.  She had nothing to do with the planning of the event and stated quite simply, “I just wanted to thank them for showing up and being kind to me”.  Not only do I think it is a marvelous idea to sit down and write people a proper thank you letter, but she said something that impressed me even more.  She stated that everyone she met seems to have turned out so nice, but some people she spoke with after told her they had the opposite experience.  Even though they talked to the same people.  How could this be? How could two people go to the same event, talk to the same people, but have entirely different results?  There are many factors I suppose, but it reminded me of a story I heard that I would like to share with you.

Two old gentleman were sitting outside of a local diner discussing how the neighborhood was changing and a lot of new people were moving in.  Suddenly their conversation was interrupted by just one of those people.  “Excuse me, but you look like you may have been a member of this neighborhood a while. What are the people like here?”.  That was the question put forth to the old men.  “Well what were the people like in the town you came from?” replied one old man.  “Oh they were very nice.  In fact, we were sad to leave, but my husband’s job had us relocate here” was the reply from the new neighbor.  “Well there is no need to worry, I believe you will find the people just as pleasant down here” replied the old man.  She thanked them and was off.  Well in the middle of a heated debate as to the fate of the local college football team the old men were interrupted by another new neighbor asking the same question.  Again the old man replied by asking what the people were like where the individual came from. “They were terrible.  Never friendly, rarely said hi to us.  That is why we moved here in hopes of finding a nicer group of people”  replied the young man.  “I’m sorry to tell you, but you wasted your time.  I’m afraid you will find the people the same here” replied the old man. The new neighbor left shaking his head.  Well now the other old man couldn’t help but ask how he could give two completely different answers to the same question and which one he believed was the right answer.  “They both are.” he replied.  “People will find just what they are looking for. It has to do with a great deal in how they see the situation.”

Now I like this story, and it brings up a good point.  People often do find what they expect to find. Unfortunately there are people who have no expectations and wait for the world to dictate to them how the situation will be.  Even worse, there are people who expect the worse in every situation.  Have you ever heard someone say “Expect the worse and you will never be disappointed”?  Not only is this a very dismal and cowardly way to go through life.  Effectively saying you have no control over how things turn out, but it is also negating one of our greatest powers.  If you enter a situation or even a day expecting it to be a good day, chances are you will have more good than bad happen.  Even if some things do not go as planned, they are easier to take in stride and quite often may be part of a greater plan.  If you approach ever day with anxiety and expecting the worse, you will quite often find yourself correct. There are a million reasons why this is so, and we shall discuss them another day.  We must ask ourselves, what feels better expecting joy and experiencing the occasional disappointment or glumly expecting the worse and being occasionally pleasantly surprised? I can tell you the attitude I would rather bring to life.  The important thing here to realize is we have the power to choose, or to leave it to chance.