I believe that world peace begins with me … it begins with the choices that every individual makes in their daily lives. Contrary to popular belief, choosing peace is anything but peaceful and it definitely is not the easy way out. First, it requires me to step up and do things that I never believed possible, and that requires courage. I never thought I could stand up for myself, but the choice to stew in silence, or proceed with a misunderstanding, or in the absence of clearly communicated ground-rules implies that my perspective is not worthy of being voiced. Keeping silent is a choice; it is implied consent that the situation is fine “as is”. Speaking up is a choice too; it doesn’t imply that I will get my way, but it is the starting point for a dialog. And dialog is an integral element for peace.
Choosing peace means that I take responsibility for my emotions and behavior, each time I am nasty or inconsiderate or spew all over the place. Rather than brushing it off or trying to assign blame for my reaction to someone else, peace requires that I step back and ask myself the question, “what was that really about?” – not with that harsh, judgmental voice reserved exclusively for myself, but in the caring, compassionate voice I use with others. Just the process of asking myself that question creates awareness, which in turn creates space for a different reaction next time around.
Choosing peace means living with acceptance and grace. Acceptance does not mean passive resignation. Acceptance means being real about what is within my control and what isn’t. By accepting that I only have control over how I show up in a situation, the drama that accompanies denial, struggle, the “but, it’s not fair!” voice melts away. By accepting that I cannot always have things my way, I practice being open to options, encouraging honest expression of perspectives, and sharing the priceless gift of listening. By accepting that life is rarely predictable, I am able to focus on investing my best effort to the task at hand, rather than expending energy on those consuming and unfruitful “what if” worries.
Choosing peace has transformed my life … in unimaginable, inconceivably glorious and mysterious ways. My entire being is centered and aligned, rather than off-balance and strained. My work has become my joy and service. Choosing peace has allowed me to be present to the bounty that exists for me – for each one of us – in every moment.
We each affect others in unknown ways: through our words, silence, actions, inaction and presence. Knowing that, it seems only practical to choose peace. I know that my choice has resulted in invisible ripples that affect an ever-widening circle of people around me – offering hope, possibilities, and breathing space. My microcosm, but my world nonetheless. This is why peace is my practice, my service … my meditation.
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