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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Ten Ways to More Peace of Mind




Do you ever feel like you need more peace?

In the modern world we find excitement in different forms within our grasp quite easily – it may come with a financial cost at times, but is easily had. The world is set up to serve it to us if we care to find it. These days, peace is a much rarer commodity, and I believe that it is also much more precious.

Often peace starts and follows from what we feel in our hearts and heads and so I’ve put together a few ideas to help you on your way:

1. Live with as Few Expectations as Possible

If you expect others to behave in a certain way and do certain things, you are storing up trouble for yourself. People have their own lives and their own needs. If they do give us their valuable time we should be grateful for it, but not become stuck in the expectation of more. Nor should we expect good fortune from the world. There is much in what Dennis Wholey said about life – “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” Expecting too much of others can lead to disappointment and even bitterness.

2. Be Mindful of Others (but not too much!)

Whilst it is a good thing to put others before yourself and to help them as much as you can, I have discussed that in this blog before.

This time, I want to stress the importance of not interfering too much in other people’s lives. You may think that you know best for others, but do you? Will you really be thanked for trying to make someone do something other than their wishes? Of course, if what they suggest is dangerous or bad for them it could be neglectful, as a good friend, to ignore that – and so, it may be wise to have a quiet word and help them to consider their options. In the end though, they must go their own way and excessive interference is ultimately good for neither of you. Instead, put your own life in order and concentrate on finding you own peace of mind.

3. Forgive and Forget

Do not dwell on any grievance – this could really mess up your peace of mind, especially at night, when sleep loss can make things even worse.
Life is too short to waste time holding a grudge and forgiveness is a powerful thing. None of this means that you should not speak to someone who did you a wrong. It may well be a good and healthy idea to let them know that you were hurt, but then to leave it at that and move on. If you are still thinking of revenge, remember this quote: “While seeking revenge, dig two graves – one for yourself.” (Doug Horton)

4. Do Not Crave For Recognition

We all know narcissistic (hugely self-absorbed) people who love to be praised but seldom say anything appreciative back to us. They seem only to have their own needs when it comes to relationships and don’t consider anyone else’s, preferring only to concentrate on talking about themselves. Unfortunately narcissists are the least likely of people to spot this within themselves! It is not important to gain praise from such people. A word of encouragement from someone you trust and respect is of much more value.
In any case a job well done is its own reward. If you are doing something well, it will be recognised in time and whilst we all like to hear some appreciation, it is best not to crave for it. Peace of mind will follow if our work and dealings are their own reward.

5. Avoid Jealousy

To follow on from this, try to avoid the green eyed-monster! Life is not fair. Sometimes people less hard working or deserving than you will get ahead of you. Nothing will be gained by blaming others for this misfortune and jealousy will not get you anywhere – but it may play havoc with your peace of mind.
If you are a jealous type then this can often manifest itself in different forms of anger such as sourness or sarcasm. Working with a counsellor can be very useful in helping to unravel this.

6. Be Grateful for Your Joys

At the end of your life you will not wish that you had worked more but you may well wish that you had had more joyous experiences. Joy cannot be chased, but it is likely to find us if we feel connected with other people, or if we receive and give love. Whenever I feel joy I try to be mindful that I am experiencing it. This came about because I used to be in the habit of realising how much of a wonderful time I was having after the event. I have come to feel even greater joy now that I have trained myself to be in the moment as it happens. No joys are permanent. If you experience any, be with them and appreciate them. Be grateful for them after they pass and be ready to accept them next time they come along. Never be afraid to accept them because you fear they will pass!

7. Bear Troubles Graciously

People who complain about every setback tend not to be pleasant to be around. Life is full of suffering - numerous inconveniences, illnesses, problems and upsets, most of which we cannot hope to have any control over. We can try to change the problems which are solvable, but those we cannot are better borne with patience. It can be helpful to remember what the German writer Goethe said: “Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.” Believe in yourself and you will gain in terms of patience, inner strength and will power.

8. Do Not Attempt Too Much

What are you trying to prove? Will your life be better if you take on yet another task whether it be for more money or prestige, better skills or a more successful social life? Is it not better to rest or to spend some time being instead of doing? Clint Eastwood said, “a man’s gotta know his limitations.” This is good advice. Peace of mind is more likely to be achieved by going for a walk, meditating, pursuing a hobby or simply listening to the sounds of nature than it is by adding another thing to your hectic work or social calendar. Remove cluttered time as well as cluttered things from your life! Do not be an adrenaline junkie - if you are worn out, seek more peace rather than more excitement.

9. Achieve as much Balance as You Can

Certainly not getting number 8 right can lead to a lack of balance. Listening to your body is often the best way of achieving a rebalancing. Often it will tell you what you need more of – food, sleep, excitement, love, exercise, rest, peace...whatever it is. We can easily get out of balance if we do too much of one or two activities at the expense of others that we know are good for us. Sometimes that imbalance can be caused by excessive drivenness, sometimes by fear (of failure for instance) and sometimes by selfishness.

Balance is helped by practising something spiritual on a regular basis.
This needn’t be overtly religious, though it can be – prayer or services for instance. By spirituality I simply mean feeling yourself connected to things and a part of the whole. This is important as it is peaceful to feel connected and not isolated. Meditation is another good way of relaxing and calms the mind down a great deal. This can be simple breathing exercises.

10. Do Not Regret

You cannot change the past, but you can change the present and the future. To live your life in the past, especially if that is in sadness is to waste the precious present. I think Sydney Smith was very wise when he said, “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” If we have done something truly awful (on the level of murder for instance) then regrets are a different matter, but genuine remorse and attempts to put things right may eventually heal all wounds. However, if we always wanted to do something and never did it there is no way of healing that pain. The way around this is to plan to do those things which we know we really must (and which are not impossible!). And of course, it is better to try and fail than not try at all.

David is a fully qualified and BACP registered Person Centred Counsellor.  You can book a session with him by ringing 07578 100256 or emailing him at David@eastcheshirecounselling.com

4 comments:

  1. Excellent advice - as always! Thank you.

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  2. This is profound advice David, thank you for sharing it..

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  3. Beautifully written and very wise. Things all too easy to forget in stressful times. Thank you, dear David :)

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