Creating Your Own Peaceful State of Mind

Reviewed Mar 28, 2017

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Summary

  • Become aware of the way news reports and entertainment choices affect you.
  • Build on compassion instead of hate.
  • Limit unnecessary choices.
  • Slow down everything in your life.

Choose your activities thoughtfully

Whatever you choose to watch, read, or listen to, become aware of its effect on you. We can’t avoid the news of the world, nor should we. But we can choose our entertainment and how much of the world’s problems we choose to absorb, and more importantly, how we are going to react. No one can alter a past tragedy, but you can make mindful choices as to how you deal with it in the present.

You can choose to dwell on terrible TV images, or you can take simple, yet positive, steps to create peace in yourself and in your community—attend a service, volunteer, make a donation, or make an extra effort to be kind to friends, neighbors, and relatives. As the political leader and peace activist Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Build perspective, and compassion will follow

The opposites of peace are anger and conflict. If you want to feel the rewards of peace and contentment, try to shorten the list of people, ideas, and things that agitate you, and broaden the list of people, ideas, and things that inspire you.

Keep a journal of where you get your information for one week: Is it always the same websites, newspapers, or radio stations? How do those reports make you feel?

What are the first images you see when you start your day and the last you see at night? Don’t expose yourself to the worst news when you’re setting the mood for the day or winding down.

Who do you discuss political matters with? Is it always the same people? Do they leave you feeling agitated or inspired? Knowledgeable or hopeless?

Avoid creating a news “filter bubble,” in which you personalize your news outlets to the degree that you limit exposure to other viewpoints. Broaden your perspective by subscribing to different newspapers, magazines, or websites.

When you start getting a clearer picture of complex problems, you can approach solutions in a calmer state of mind. When you get to know your “opposition,” you can begin to see the humanity in others and can start replacing hatred and fear with knowledge and compassion. 

Avoid pointless conflicts

There is a saying, “Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.” Don’t think of this as caving in or becoming a doormat. Think of this as a conscious choice to not engage in a debate or fight over something you probably don’t care about to begin with. Choose your battles carefully. Conflict takes time and energy. By not taking the bait, you have an opportunity to silently say “no” to unwanted requests on your time and energy.

Limit choices

Are you the type of person who has to look at every single shirt in the store before you select one? Limit shopping choices. Don’t go to large stores that have 20 brands of jam or cheese when you can simplify your life by simplifying your choices. Studies out of the University of Minnesota and Swarthmore College show that excessive choice leads to stress as opposed to better decision-making.

Shop at stores with smaller selections instead of the mall where you are bombarded with choices. Unsubscribe from retail catalogs and emails, and limit internet surfing where you are exposed to ads on every page. Say “enough is enough” and savor what you have now, at this moment.

Slow down

Stress and anxiety can be associated with going too fast. Rushing can also lead to mistakes, which create more stress and anxiety. Force yourself to slow down. Whatever you do for the next 15 minutes, force yourself to do it at a much slower speed. Carefully read every word in an article. Type slowly at your computer. Walk slowly. Notice your breathing and focus on the details of your surroundings. Focusing on the present can give you a break from the constant stream of “things to do” and nervous thoughts zipping through your mind.

You’ll find that going slower takes your stress down a notch or two, making a little more room for peace.  

Parting thoughts

No peace is won easily, especially your own inner peace. All the suggestions described above can be challenging to do on a consistent basis. Try not to be hard on yourself when you give in to negativity and stress—we all do. Just get back on the horse and remind yourself that managing stress is an ongoing process.

By Amy Fries
Source: Baumeister, Roy and Kathleen Vohs (University of Minnesota). “Decision fatigue: Making choices consumes a limited resource.” Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Vancouver, BC. November 2003; Hamblen, Jessica, PhD, “The Effects of Media Coverage of Terrorist Attacks on Viewers,” National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet, http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/va/fs_media_disaster.htm; In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré, HarperOne, 2004; The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz, (Swarthmore College). Harper Perennial, 2005; www.slowmovement.com

Summary

  • Become aware of the way news reports and entertainment choices affect you.
  • Build on compassion instead of hate.
  • Limit unnecessary choices.
  • Slow down everything in your life.

Choose your activities thoughtfully

Whatever you choose to watch, read, or listen to, become aware of its effect on you. We can’t avoid the news of the world, nor should we. But we can choose our entertainment and how much of the world’s problems we choose to absorb, and more importantly, how we are going to react. No one can alter a past tragedy, but you can make mindful choices as to how you deal with it in the present.

You can choose to dwell on terrible TV images, or you can take simple, yet positive, steps to create peace in yourself and in your community—attend a service, volunteer, make a donation, or make an extra effort to be kind to friends, neighbors, and relatives. As the political leader and peace activist Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Build perspective, and compassion will follow

The opposites of peace are anger and conflict. If you want to feel the rewards of peace and contentment, try to shorten the list of people, ideas, and things that agitate you, and broaden the list of people, ideas, and things that inspire you.

Keep a journal of where you get your information for one week: Is it always the same websites, newspapers, or radio stations? How do those reports make you feel?

What are the first images you see when you start your day and the last you see at night? Don’t expose yourself to the worst news when you’re setting the mood for the day or winding down.

Who do you discuss political matters with? Is it always the same people? Do they leave you feeling agitated or inspired? Knowledgeable or hopeless?

Avoid creating a news “filter bubble,” in which you personalize your news outlets to the degree that you limit exposure to other viewpoints. Broaden your perspective by subscribing to different newspapers, magazines, or websites.

When you start getting a clearer picture of complex problems, you can approach solutions in a calmer state of mind. When you get to know your “opposition,” you can begin to see the humanity in others and can start replacing hatred and fear with knowledge and compassion. 

Avoid pointless conflicts

There is a saying, “Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.” Don’t think of this as caving in or becoming a doormat. Think of this as a conscious choice to not engage in a debate or fight over something you probably don’t care about to begin with. Choose your battles carefully. Conflict takes time and energy. By not taking the bait, you have an opportunity to silently say “no” to unwanted requests on your time and energy.

Limit choices

Are you the type of person who has to look at every single shirt in the store before you select one? Limit shopping choices. Don’t go to large stores that have 20 brands of jam or cheese when you can simplify your life by simplifying your choices. Studies out of the University of Minnesota and Swarthmore College show that excessive choice leads to stress as opposed to better decision-making.

Shop at stores with smaller selections instead of the mall where you are bombarded with choices. Unsubscribe from retail catalogs and emails, and limit internet surfing where you are exposed to ads on every page. Say “enough is enough” and savor what you have now, at this moment.

Slow down

Stress and anxiety can be associated with going too fast. Rushing can also lead to mistakes, which create more stress and anxiety. Force yourself to slow down. Whatever you do for the next 15 minutes, force yourself to do it at a much slower speed. Carefully read every word in an article. Type slowly at your computer. Walk slowly. Notice your breathing and focus on the details of your surroundings. Focusing on the present can give you a break from the constant stream of “things to do” and nervous thoughts zipping through your mind.

You’ll find that going slower takes your stress down a notch or two, making a little more room for peace.  

Parting thoughts

No peace is won easily, especially your own inner peace. All the suggestions described above can be challenging to do on a consistent basis. Try not to be hard on yourself when you give in to negativity and stress—we all do. Just get back on the horse and remind yourself that managing stress is an ongoing process.

By Amy Fries
Source: Baumeister, Roy and Kathleen Vohs (University of Minnesota). “Decision fatigue: Making choices consumes a limited resource.” Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Vancouver, BC. November 2003; Hamblen, Jessica, PhD, “The Effects of Media Coverage of Terrorist Attacks on Viewers,” National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet, http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/va/fs_media_disaster.htm; In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré, HarperOne, 2004; The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz, (Swarthmore College). Harper Perennial, 2005; www.slowmovement.com

Summary

  • Become aware of the way news reports and entertainment choices affect you.
  • Build on compassion instead of hate.
  • Limit unnecessary choices.
  • Slow down everything in your life.

Choose your activities thoughtfully

Whatever you choose to watch, read, or listen to, become aware of its effect on you. We can’t avoid the news of the world, nor should we. But we can choose our entertainment and how much of the world’s problems we choose to absorb, and more importantly, how we are going to react. No one can alter a past tragedy, but you can make mindful choices as to how you deal with it in the present.

You can choose to dwell on terrible TV images, or you can take simple, yet positive, steps to create peace in yourself and in your community—attend a service, volunteer, make a donation, or make an extra effort to be kind to friends, neighbors, and relatives. As the political leader and peace activist Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Build perspective, and compassion will follow

The opposites of peace are anger and conflict. If you want to feel the rewards of peace and contentment, try to shorten the list of people, ideas, and things that agitate you, and broaden the list of people, ideas, and things that inspire you.

Keep a journal of where you get your information for one week: Is it always the same websites, newspapers, or radio stations? How do those reports make you feel?

What are the first images you see when you start your day and the last you see at night? Don’t expose yourself to the worst news when you’re setting the mood for the day or winding down.

Who do you discuss political matters with? Is it always the same people? Do they leave you feeling agitated or inspired? Knowledgeable or hopeless?

Avoid creating a news “filter bubble,” in which you personalize your news outlets to the degree that you limit exposure to other viewpoints. Broaden your perspective by subscribing to different newspapers, magazines, or websites.

When you start getting a clearer picture of complex problems, you can approach solutions in a calmer state of mind. When you get to know your “opposition,” you can begin to see the humanity in others and can start replacing hatred and fear with knowledge and compassion. 

Avoid pointless conflicts

There is a saying, “Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.” Don’t think of this as caving in or becoming a doormat. Think of this as a conscious choice to not engage in a debate or fight over something you probably don’t care about to begin with. Choose your battles carefully. Conflict takes time and energy. By not taking the bait, you have an opportunity to silently say “no” to unwanted requests on your time and energy.

Limit choices

Are you the type of person who has to look at every single shirt in the store before you select one? Limit shopping choices. Don’t go to large stores that have 20 brands of jam or cheese when you can simplify your life by simplifying your choices. Studies out of the University of Minnesota and Swarthmore College show that excessive choice leads to stress as opposed to better decision-making.

Shop at stores with smaller selections instead of the mall where you are bombarded with choices. Unsubscribe from retail catalogs and emails, and limit internet surfing where you are exposed to ads on every page. Say “enough is enough” and savor what you have now, at this moment.

Slow down

Stress and anxiety can be associated with going too fast. Rushing can also lead to mistakes, which create more stress and anxiety. Force yourself to slow down. Whatever you do for the next 15 minutes, force yourself to do it at a much slower speed. Carefully read every word in an article. Type slowly at your computer. Walk slowly. Notice your breathing and focus on the details of your surroundings. Focusing on the present can give you a break from the constant stream of “things to do” and nervous thoughts zipping through your mind.

You’ll find that going slower takes your stress down a notch or two, making a little more room for peace.  

Parting thoughts

No peace is won easily, especially your own inner peace. All the suggestions described above can be challenging to do on a consistent basis. Try not to be hard on yourself when you give in to negativity and stress—we all do. Just get back on the horse and remind yourself that managing stress is an ongoing process.

By Amy Fries
Source: Baumeister, Roy and Kathleen Vohs (University of Minnesota). “Decision fatigue: Making choices consumes a limited resource.” Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Vancouver, BC. November 2003; Hamblen, Jessica, PhD, “The Effects of Media Coverage of Terrorist Attacks on Viewers,” National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet, http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/va/fs_media_disaster.htm; In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré, HarperOne, 2004; The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz, (Swarthmore College). Harper Perennial, 2005; www.slowmovement.com

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