What is peace? And is it possible to experience real peace?
I don’t have any easy answers to these questions… I don’t really know much about much. Like most 30-somethings, I’m filled with more questions and confusion than ever. Including questions about peace. Questions I know will never be answered. Questions I’ll continue to ask in the hope of getting closer to an answer, while accepting my fate of never truly knowing.
We all long for peace, this concept we’ve internalized so much that it can seem to be life’s ONLY goal. When did it become so elusive? Every blog I’ve ever read by every blogger I’ve ever known seems to be a search for it, a guide to it, or an in-depth interrogation of peace itself: “How to create peace in your daily routine.” “How to declutter your life.”
And yet peace seems even more evasive these days. The world has changed. Technology and social media have transformed our daily habits and wreaked havoc on our attention spans. Peace within ourselves seems like an ever-fading daydream.
But my intention isn’t just to ramble on why we can’t obtain peace. Rather, it’s my hope that we can capture peace by letting certain things in life go.
But first, we must define peace. (And I’m not starting with the dictionary. It’s no longer relevant.)
Considering current events and the seemingly endless wars in the Middle East—the birthplace of all Abrahamic religions—an easy definition of peace would seem to be the absence of war, or the absence of conflict. I’d like to challenge that definition. The absence of war is a great place to start, but that alone will not achieve peace within people.
War is a symptom of other internal struggles, and while it’s obvious that people as a whole want to end war, it’s more challenging to understand why that doesn’t happen overnight. The internal struggles, the centuries of pain—none of this has been resolved, and so there is war. An external expression of bodies that are not at peace, on an enormous scale.
I don’t know how to stop war. But I can provide a little insight on personal peace.
“Shalom” is a word I grew up hearing daily. It was how we greeted each other at synagogue, at school, sometimes at home. Shalom is the Hebrew word for hello, goodbye, and peace. Using it as a greeting and a departure is a way to impart peace on those you encounter daily, whether in passing or across a longer interaction. It also lends to a state of well-being, prosperity, and wholeness. Wholeness—isn’t that what we’re all searching for? Is that what peace really is?
How is it, then, that when we’re bogged down by more, more, more (more media, more resources, more knowledge, etc.) that we end up feeling un-whole? How is it that in our search for perfection we end up finding less satisfaction and more confusion? Instead of striving for more should we just be okay with who we are naturally? Can peace be found in letting go?
After a recent social media hiatus, my experience reflects the adage that less is in fact more. There is more inner peace in my life now than there has been in years. After taking the time to rid my thoughts of the unnecessary and trivial things, I’m left with more happiness, more peace, and far less stress. Letting go of unnecessary extras helped me find more peace.
Consider for yourself going without something that is stressful, but still a habit. You probably already possess the peace you’re searching for, it’s just hiding underneath everything you’re unwilling to let go of.
Peace is absolutely not the absence of conflict. Peace is an inner quality that gives you the ability to relate to conflict in a way that is balanced and calm. Peace is knowing how to exist without being jarred by every external circumstance you encounter. I believe life is 10% what happens to you (the external) and 90% how you relate to it (coming from the internal).
The 10% is out of your hands. The 90% is your decision. If your life is 90% what happens to you, then you need to gain control of the one thing in this world that you can–your mind—and adjust your outlook. Your response to these unfortunate external stimuli, comes from within you – the place where peace resides.
How’s the state of your internal dialogue? When was the last time you truly experienced peace in the face of conflict?
This post reflects the views and experiences of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on peace from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.