As a very young child, I cherished everything about the holidays that have just ended.
I relished the anticipation of Christmas day, the ritual of lighting candles, the thoughtful gifts, the feeling of community in sharing a banquet, the merrymaking revelry of the young and the no-so-young, and the seemingly endless kindness and generosity from everybody surrounding me.
I loved that it was a special time when everybody got along. In fact, I fully believed that everybody always got along and that the holidays were a special time when everyone not only got along but also brought gifts, great food and festive cheer to each other’s homes.
Predictably, over the years my views changed. My thoughts about getting along took sharp turns and veered away from idealistic.
My bubble of beliefs about peace became a balloon filled with doubt. Cautious suspicion replaced confident assumptions about neighborly warmth.
Regarding the holidays, I didn’t completely turn sour on them. Thankfully, I kept a window open.
And now, having the good fortune of having a loving family with a wonderful son who is almost three, I begin to see the holidays through my son’s eyes.
At his age, he sees only the good. He teaches me the beauty of believing, which for a long time was impossible to do. He teaches me so many things about the symbols of the holidays, the simplicity of just being, and the magic of this special time.
So once again, I see good, I begin to believe again, and I revel in simply being. And from this, I find inner peace.
As intractable as the concept of peace is, I believe inner peace is much easier to achieve than any other construct of it stemming beyond us as individuals.
Because of the very fact that each of us has very strong opinions relating to peace, it’s no surprise that we can’t achieve it just by the sheer act of discussing it as a concept, let alone achieve peace on matters that have political ramifications, national impact or global repercussions.
I believe it’s safe to assume that we all want peace. The bone of contention, as history shows, is always how we achieve it. It’s a question that inspires much debate, and sadly, sometimes more.
And so, why not start small? Why not let peace begin with me? With you? To let peace begin with us, how do we do this?
1. Give your Inner Cynic a Break
Over the holiday season that is just over , many of us will have taken some down time, perhaps a vacation.
Why not also give your inner cynic a vacation, too?
I’m quite capable of cynical thoughts myself, but I’ve found that it only leads me to much unhappiness. And apart from that, it’s exhausting.
That quizzical eye, always questioning someone’s motives, that takes a lot of energy. All the horsepower we invest in cynicism doesn’t necessarily make us wiser or better people.
Instead, it amounts to a whole lot of wasted human capital that we could have invested in something much more productive.
2. Pay no Mind to the Seemingly Crass Commercialism
I’ve been there, too. I’ve wondered about the wide range of things that people manufacture, sell and buy. But I gave it a rest for the holidays.
Why? Because, at the heart of it all, we humans want to show love and affection. The trouble is, we don’t always know how and so we resort to buying trinkets for others we care about.
The intention is good and though the execution may be imperfect, at least it’s a start. We can espouse our declarations about our how-to’s and how-not-to’s when it comes to showing love and affection, but the truth is, these are very personal acts. And we do our best, don’t we?
3. Receive Kindness, Thoughtfulness, Love and Gifts from others Freely
It’s not always so easy to receive from others freely, as we are at times hard-wired to either feel guilty, unworthy or to feel the need to reciprocate. But the simple act of receiving freely can bring inner peace as well as joy to the giver.
Check out my post about receiving graciously.
4. Pay the Kindness, Thoughtfulness, Love and Gifts Forward to Others
Paying forward an act of kindness or generosity to someone we don’t know brings an unmatched feeling of joy. It’s a tremendous feeling from the giving end, but think how you would feel to be on the receiving end!
It may seem like a strange concept, but more and more people have come to make this their way of living as its rewards are immense.
Check out my 50 simple ways to pay it forward
5. Remind Ourselves that Peace can Begin with us Regardless of the Season
Peace knows no seasons. If we’re willing and able, anytime’s a good time to cultivate it, harness its power, and share it with others.
Peace. Always a worthy cause. Such an economical word in number of letters; but its weight and heft is magnanimous.
Can we as a human race — with all our imperfections, idiosyncracies and insecurities — achieve it? I admit, I still have a long way to go in answering this question. But instead of discounting it as a myth, I ponder on our similar desires and needs, our collective good intentions, and what we can do to strengthen our common threads.
And the one thing that these thoughts lead me back to is the question of inner peace. To let peace begin with me from within? Yes, a much easier thought, and just as worthy.
Let us make today the day we let peace begin with me and you.