I'm sure most of you have heard of the serenity prayer, it goes something like this:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
To be serene, calm, at peace with the world is achievable and if you read this prayer carefully you may find that it is done by changing our thoughts about the world.
The first line of this prayer deals with accepting what is. By accepting the things I cannot change it allows me to forgive them or make my peace with them. After all, I can't change them, so all that is left is to change how I think about them, which gets down to whether I want to let them bother me or not.
The next line speaks of courage. For me, this refers to letting go of my judgment of others and having more understanding and compassion, as they are probably trying to do the best that they can. Treat others how you would want them to treat you. If I can let go of the thoughts of being a victim and try to take responsibility for myself, it will only make me stronger. Other things that I can change are my optimism, attitude and, of course, sharing a smile. These things are contagious and if the people around me are not stressed then I am less likely to be stressed as well.
The third line about being blessed with the wisdom to know the difference doesn't just happen. This whole prayer is about looking inside and asking for guidance to change our thoughts. Being open and earnest, having faith in the fact that the help we need is always there when we are really ready to hear it. For choosing how we think about things deals directly with how we feel.
This leads me to a saying that has made it to bumper sticker status: "Be the change that you want to see in the world." Another way of looking at this would be to modify the phrase to, "Be the change that you want to see in yourself."
If you are truly looking for inner peace why not start with looking at your thoughts? Just like the serenity prayer above, I can practice watching my thoughts and question the ones that go after my peace. I can then realize that there is the possibility of seeing a crisis as an opportunity to choose peace. I can start to be the change that I want to see in myself. There's no point in waiting around for inner peace to come to me. By practicing this it allows me to be present, in the moment. I have to ask myself how things are right now and what part of "now" can I change or what do I need to accept to calm my mind. Start with yourself, take an honest look at what can and can't be changed. Be compassionate with yourself and love yourself unconditionally. It all starts with you and not the world you see. Rather than looking for peace in the world, try bringing peace to the world through your thoughts. Do this by harboring no negative thoughts toward anyone including ... you.
Don't wait to try this. Don't think that something outside of you will change and everything will be alright. Look inside at your thoughts and question every one of them. Are you loving and being kind to yourself and others? Are you listening to thoughts that want to rob you of your peace? Dave Matthews said it well in one of his songs. The lyrics go something like this; "The future is no place to place your better days." That sums it up, now is the time to choose peace.
Mike Bradshaw lives in the Rogue Valley and walks his dogs daily.
Rogue Valley residents are invited to share all aspects of the inner peace journey: intuition, courage, wisdom, forgiveness, joy, tolerance, gratitude or life's challenges of grief, addictions and more. Send 600- to 700-word articles to Sally McKirgan firstname.lastname@example.org.