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.
This is a guest post from Belinda Munoz – Read more from Belinda at her wonderful blog – The Halfway Point
I enjoyed reading your post. I think one underlying theme here is keeping things simple: needs, expectations, life. It’s easy to get trapped in perfectionism, consumerism, cynism, but if we practice going on another path, we can find more happiness. After all, life is not about results, but about happiness.
Eduard, thanks for your input.
I am all for keeping things simple in all areas of our life. Having just returned from India and seeing how happy people can be with so little, it is clear that here in the West we have all got trapped in consumerism and materialism.
If only more people could grasp the concept of happiness rather than results.
All of us aspire peace. But the truth of life consists of many ruffles. Perhaps peace can only be achieved if we let go of what we think will bring us peace. 🙂
Walter, I agree with you in a way – we tend to get stressed out wiht our expectations of what will make us happy, content and indeed peaceful.
Maybe the only solution is to live in the present moment, moment by moment, and then perhaps one will have no expectations. Or is having no expectations also an “expectation”?!
I think I need to go and lie down:-)
if we only live moment to moment then where would aspirations fit into that? I believe there is a fine balance between nowness and aspirations, it’s polar thing like love and hate, one cannot exist without the other. Did you not say to me Arvind that you want to make 2010 a great blogging year? Isn’t that having a goal or aspiration? Are you not leaving ‘this moment’ by thinking about the future? Hence my belief you need a good balance of the two.
Amit, I agree with you about the need for aspirations and wanting to have long term goals. But at the same time, one can also live in the moment by enjoying and being present to what it here.
It is when we get too focussed on the future (or indeed get stuck on the past) and not enjoy the current moment that we lose our peace.
So in a way we are both saying the same thing. By all means do live in hte present moment, but at the same time, have future aspirations and also bear in mind learnings from the past.
You site is a breath of fresh, compassionate, thoughtful and loving spot in the blog world. I sure do miss you at GSTC…it isn’t the same without you.
Thanks Coleen for your kind words – and welcome to my blog. Good to see you here after a long time:-)
Hope all is well with Go! Smell the Coffe (https://www.GoSmelltheCoffee.com)
Hi everyone, I’m late to the party but I had a good excuse — I was celebrating my birthday!
First things first. Arvind, many thanks for letting me do a guest post for you over the holidays. I’m honored as I think your blog is great, your beautiful spirit, kind soul and caring and peaceful nature come through on your posts and you tackle a lot of aspects of peace that I think are undervalued in our society today.
The conundrum of peace has been very interesting to me because, as some of the comments above show, we value peace, want to make room for it in our lives and in our world, though we don’t always agree on what it is, what it means and how we go about achieving it. In writing this piece, I started out all lofty and cerebral, but I settled on making it personal because at its most basic, peace is personal. We have to define it first, locate it within our being, before we can radiate it. So the above points are really a reflection of what have worked for me. And I can honestly say that I’ve become more of a peaceful person with a lot of false starts and belabored effort. And I still struggle with peace when it comes to some members of my family (that seems to be an impenetrable frontier for me in many respects), but I now have not only a conceptual definition of it but more of a practical application of it in my life.
Whew, that’s long!
So, thank you for reading these very personal words. And I hope whomever is reading this finds peace.
belated happy birthday. Thank you for your heartwarming and uplifting words. As a mother of two teenage children, I understand fully that feeling of hope and innocence that returns to us once more when we have small children e.g. seeing the world through their eyes. I agree also with Arvind regarding people in India with so little, being so happy. As I say to my sometimes troubled teenagers, “be happy”, its a personal decision that occupies the space your standing . My brother who lives in the US phoned me at the weekend. He had his best friend and wife to dinner on Saturday, spoke and laughed with him by phone on Wednesday and sadly, he would never hear or see him again. On Monday he phoned his wife and she conveyed that he had died suddenly on Saturday with a brain anurism. As he had no beliefs he was cremated, so there was no funeral. All we have is now. Many of us are so busy trying to predict and prepare for the future that the sun in the sky passes us by. Sometimes sitting on the bus, I or feeling a little stressed I remember as a child the coolness of the grass on my small bare feet on a hot summers day and the feel of wet sand underfoot as I took my spade and bucket to the waters edge as a child to catch crabs. peace engulfs and I am content with my busy woerld once more. Yes ! I am a serial long bloger, which is why I only subject others to them occasionally. Bye and thanks.
Thank you for your thoughtful words. I get what you’re saying about how we predict and prepare for the future that we miss what we have now. Looking at peace as a big vision, my tendency is to view world leaders and their policies with a quizzical eye and wonder how they think they’ll achieve all the good that they want to achieve with seemingly little regard for peace.
And then when I get overly critical, I think about whether I could play any part in achieving the larger vision of peace. And it always pulls me back to the present and what small thing I can do now. We each have this ability. It would be tremendously powerful if we all realized this; and even more powerful if we as individuals practiced it.
Belinda – you got it in one – we all have the ability to do some small thing about peace right now. But what is missing is the awareness and the willingness to do so.
We all seem so engrossed in our daily challenges that finding peace within us and out in the world end up way down the list.
All we can do is continue to do our own bits for peace and hope it affects others around us positively.
Belinda, you are most welcome.
Thanks so much for your guest post and for sharing your wisdom with us – and thanks for your kind words:-)
And belated happy birthday greetings!
I agree with what you say about peace being personal. Before we can go out there and campaign for world peace, we have to find peace within us.
Lets hope we all find more peace in our lives and in the world in 2010.
Happy Birthday and great post.I was reading it and felt like I could have written this, as I too see things differently with my kids eye, and it is so positive and so thoughtful.
You and your guest posts are always inspiring!! as always.
Thanks again Zengirl – always good to have you visit and share your wisdom:-)