Ten Ways to Find and Practice Peace in Your Life

Do you admire the Amish in part because they seem so peaceful?

Maybe you were moved by this now-classic scene in the movie Witness (1985)?

When those peace-loving Amish men come over the hill in this film, I can easily translate this fictional triumph of nonviolence into the vision in Revelation 22 when a river of peace flows down the great street of the city, the Tree of Life flourishes, and “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”

I believe deeply that love overcomes hatred, violence, and fear. I claim this promise from I John 4: 18. “Perfect love casts out fear.”

Few if any of us will have confrontations as dramatic as the one in the movie above.

But each of us can take a few small steps every day. Below are ten suggestions for how to do so. They come not only from me but from my friends Wilma, Edgar, Connie, Jane, Cheryl, Chad, Sandy, Merv, Rhonda, Laurie, Patricia, and Roxanne.

1. Start every day with peace. Go outside in PJs or robe, coffee in hand. Greet the sun with thanksgiving. I love to sit in an Adirondack chair and listen to the birds while lifting my eyes to the hills from whence come my help.

2. Put the word “peace” into something you do every day. I sign my emails and letters “peace and joy” as a blessing to others, but also as a reminder to myself to practice what I preach. It also prevents me from angry outbursts I will regret later. Other places to insert peace: your password, website, or email address. For a long time I used the German word “Gelassenheit” as a password to remind myself to submit my anxieties to God.

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When I use these three words in a signature, I remember a peace mentor, Atlee Beechy, whose own signature I am borrowing. I also remember all six of these wonderful people who created Seniors for Peace in their elder years. Atlee is second from the left.

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3. Smile more. My friend Laurie found this quote, and it reminded me of my friend Rhonda’s advice.

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4. Hug often.

5. Knit. Or jog. Or cook. Or wash dishes prayerfully with the intent of being peaceful.

6. Breathe deeply. Yoga will teach you.

7. Give and/or receive massage.

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8. Listen deeply. Without defensiveness. Imagine how this person came to believe or feel something you don’t understand. Imagine yourself in his or her shoes.

9. Be kind even when others are being “idiots” – rude or obnoxious. Here is author George Saunders, whose graduation address on kindness went viral online a year ago and is now a book:


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10. Pray for your enemies. This is the hardest test of all, but if we all practiced it more or better, we would connect to “that of God” in the other and find that it’s a lot harder to hate someone who’s been in your prayers.

Does peace seem impossible to you? Are you overwhelmed by cable news, a too-long “to-do” list, or by your own restless spirit?

If so, try one thing on this list and let us know what happens. Or tell us your own peaceful wisdom practice.

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Shirley Showalter (8 Posts)

Shirley Hershey Showalter grew up in a Mennonite farm family and went on to become the president of Goshen College and a foundation executive at The Fetzer Institute. She is now a writer, speaker, blogger, and consultant living in Harrisonburg, VA. She recently released her memoir, "Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World."


Comments

  1. All great suggestions for maintaining that sometimes-elusive peaceful state of mind, Shirley. I’m finding it easier these days as my time is my own and I’m spending more time in nature and tending my home. It’s the simple things, isn’t it?!

  2. Yes, Linda. Perhaps those of us with more time after busy careers have a special calling to the simple, daily, task of healing and mending the world. I can see you walking outdoors in that breath-taking landscape and mindfully making your new home beautiful and hospitable. These are holy opportunities when done intentionally and prayerfully.

  3. I practice peace in many of the ways you describe. To those I would add two others: Reading from the book of Psalms and reviewing verses of scripture I learned as a child, especially when I awaken at night: “I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”

  4. Yes, the Psalms are a balm in times of trouble and a reminder of God’s power and protection. So often our conflicts with others can be assuaged when we can let go of our anxieties about having to fix everything ourselves! The heritage of peace from the Bible and from childhood teaching is a wonderful thing. Thanks for this reminder.

  5. Thank you for many good advice, the most wonderful peace I find in the prescence of God. Jesus said: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
    (Joh 14:27 KJV)

    • I love this verse, Violet. Thanks so much for sharing it here. Isn’t it wonderful to claim the promise of peace, even in the midst of storm? I memorized this verse when I was a Bible quizzer in the 1960′s.

  6. Lovely list — I practice many of these, and I’m going to incorporate the ones that aren’t already in my routine (for example, using the word peace, daily).

    One of the ways I cultivate peace in my heart is to avoid watching the news. And I still know what’s going on in the world–I’m just not the first to know. (Is there a kind of competitive spirit in news-watching? There was for me!)

    Another way: I try to avoid answering perpetually angry people’s implied or direct complaints and accusations. I make an effort to smile, and pray for them instead (when I’m well-rested and not giving into my own fears and turmoil, I’m more likely to be able to do this).

  7. Shirley – It’s taken me a while, but I finally made it over to this WONDERFUL post. When I pray for someone, I pray for their peace of mind. To me, it’s one of the greatest gifts a person can enjoy. I feel that to have peace of mind, all of the other “stuff” has either fallen away, or become much less significant.

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