Today, for those of you who don't already know this, is the International Day of Peace. I know this, of course, because it was printed in faint grey writing in the corner of my day planner. (Yeah, I know, a little less impressive than knowing this because I am a peace activist or something like that...) A few days ago I noticed the small letters nearly scrawled all over by my "to do" lists, and I thought, "Wow! International Day of Peace! I've never even heard of that!" According to the International Day of Peace website:
"The International Day of Peace ('Peace Day') provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. It was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. The first Peace Day was celebrated in September 1982...Since its inception, Peace Day has marked our personal and planetary progress toward peace. It has grown to include millions of people in all parts of the world, and each year events are organized to commemorate and celebrate this day. Events range in scale from private gatherings to public concerts and forums where hundreds of thousands of people participate...Anyone, anywhere can celebrate Peace Day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, or just sitting in silent meditation. Or it can involve getting your co-workers, organization, community or government engaged in a large event. The impact if millions of people in all parts of the world, coming together for one day of peace, is immense. International Day of Peace is also a Day of Ceasefire – personal or political. Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time. Imagine what a whole Day of Ceasefire would mean to humankind."
I'd love to sit here and write that I'm the most peaceful person in the world and that I strive for peace with all my heart, but I can't say that's entirely true. You know, there are those people who you look at or speak to and later think, "That person is really peaceful"? Well, that wouldn't be me. You might walk away from a conversation with me thinking a lot of things, but I'm pretty sure the idea of "peace" wouldn't come to your mind. The thing is, I want to be peaceful. Like a lot of people, I want there to be peace in the world and I've pretty much summed up the reason why there's not world peace:
We don't have world peace because too many people lack inner peace. There isn't peace in the world because many people aren't at peace with themselves.
Yes, I firmly believe that's true. If everyone in the world (me included!) was at peace with him/herself, there would be no need for hatred and jealousy and spite and wars. There would be happiness and love and, of course, peace. I know this is completely over-simplifying a concept that, let's be honest, I don't know all that much about. I'm not an expert on politics or history or even relationships or psychology, so I can't say that the above statement is based on anything more than my own opinion. I don't have facts to support it or statistics to say why it would be true. Instead, I just believe it. I know deep down in my heart that this is the truth.
Ideally, at this point in the post I'd offer up some grand idea of how we can change the world and create peace everywhere, but I don't have a grand idea. I only have a small idea, but an idea that I believe could impact the world if we all took it to heart. Here it is: We need to create peace within ourselves. Yes, it's as simple as that. It would be easy to say that going to peace rallies or making donations or getting involved with politics is the solution, but I believe it's much more complicated -- much more personal -- than that. What we need is not more talk of peace; what we need is the creation of peace within ourselves.
Personally, what I love about this idea is that I can start doing it right now. Right this second I can start working on my own inner peace, on cultivating an sense of contentment and happiness that I can pass on to those around me. As I've written before, positive thinking and emotions (as well as negative ones) can have a ripple effect. Ever notice how you feel after spending time with someone who is very calm and peaceful? You feel more peaceful. It's amazing how that works, isn't it? And we can have a part in creating world peace if we just take some time to work on our own inner peace. We can create a ripple effect of peace just by cultivating peace within us.
Growing up, I was a big fan of wishing. (Okay, I still am, though I certainly don't put the emphasis on it that I once did...) Whenever I used to wish for something personal, I would feel guilty. I would realize that I was wishing for me, when I should be wishing for something big and universal, like world peace. Now I realize that world peace starts with one person. And it's not even necessarily an act or a word; it's a state of being. Though this is an area I absolutely need more work in (as does anyone -- like me -- who has been at one point joked about as being as "high strung as a yapping chihuahua"), I do have some ideas on how to get started on cultivating inner peace. Check 'em out below...
5 Simple Ways to Cultivate Inner Peace
- Focus on the present. A lot of inner conflict is a result of worrying about the future or dwelling on the past so a great way to cultivate peace within yourself is to focus on the now.
- Simplify your life. You've heard it a million times before, but less really is more. The more you simplify your life, the less anxiety and stress you'll have counteracting your peacefulness.
- Learn to accept what is. Whenever you choose not to accept what is reality, you're causing turmoil within yourself. Accept what is and you'll be a lot more at peace with yourself and the world.
- Avoid most negativity. While some negativity does have a purpose (such as to alert of us danger), most of it brings you down and if you want to have peace in your life, you have to do what you can to avoid it.
- Make positive choices. Choose to spend time with positive people in positive situations or you will have a very difficult time having peace in your life. It's your life -- choose your surroundings carefully!
Inner peace is a difficult thing to master, but it's something I truly believe is worth working on. So let's all try to work on perfecting that ripple effect, spreading peace by embracing it first within ourselves. As always, I'd love to hear about your thoughts on this topic. What do you think about peace and how it relates to inner peace? Any thoughts on how you will be celebrating peace in your own life today?