The holiday season is meant to be all about peace and good will. During and after a divorce, though, it's difficult to find that peace, that joy, in your life—especially with the ghost of Christmas past knocking on your door. Memories of what you used to have, and dreams of what you wanted your life to be, have a way of hitting you hardest during the holidays. And it's difficult looking forward into the New Year with any kind of excitement or hope. So, how do you find peace when everything in your life has been turned upside down? Peace is a state of being that you can have at any time. You just need to learn how to tap into it. And you need to incorporate it into your life as a daily practice. Focus on these 7 steps to find your inner peace this holiday season:
1. Focus on being rather than doing.
In our culture, there is a huge emphasis on achievement—that what we do dictates our value. In fact, this focus on doing is actually a recipe for failure. Time and time again, people postpone their happiness until they achieve some goal—and then when they do, they might feel a fleeting rush of happiness or nothing at all. There is no lasting peace of any kind. One goal is replaced by another, so that we are never truly off the hamster wheel and always feel dissatisfied with where we are in life. Replacing the focus on doing with a focus on being frees us to see the value that is inherent in who we are and who we choose to be in our lives. Peace is a choice. And when you say yes to peace, you are saying "no" to anything that disrupts that peace. And by choosing peace, everything you do from that perspective now seems easier.
2. Be in the present.
Our past has already happened and our future is yet to come. We only have this moment to be in. Keeping a focus on being keeps us present in this moment, but it is a discipline that needs to be practiced. We need to let go of our old stories from the past—they only define you if you let them. Silence your inner critics who want to rob you of your peace and tie you up in knots of worry around all of the "what ifs" that might or might not happen. It seems a terrible waste of time and energy focusing on things that might never come to pass. Choose practices like meditation, yoga, rock climbing—anything that keeps you focused in the present. Choose appreciation and gratitude for all the blessings you have right now. There are miracles all around you. If you aren't in the present, you are rushing forward so fast you can't even see these miracles, never mind receive them.
3. Live by your core values.
Everyone knows that they have values, but few can identify their core values when asked. Understanding the values that are most important to you and living by them, so that you are honoring them in every decision you make, is key to being at peace with yourself and the world around you. Also, understand that your values are unique to you, so when you feel miserable, out of sync or misunderstood in your environment, it is likely a result of your values being squashed by different ones around you. Finding the people and environments that share your values, rather than stomping all over them, will support who you are and help you shine. Identifying your core values, living by them, and aligning them with those around you will bring you peace with who you are and what you do.
Throughout time, people have found comfort and safety as part of a group connected through shared purpose, activity and/or lifestyle. There is peace is being a part of something that is larger than us individually. There is peace in being accepted as an individual into this higher purpose. And connection with others feeds our soul. It often helps define us, hopefully for the better. And through this community, this connection, we are all necessary to this world.
So much of our modern culture is about what we "get" when we achieve certain "goals". The rewards of "doing well" include all the material things money can buy. Doing well, though, isn't the same thing as living well. The first is focused on having enough so that you don't worry (about position, security, stability, etc.) and the second is about being at peace in all parts of yourself and your environment so that you never worry at all. A key element to achieving this peace is in contribution—giving, rather than getting, and giving without any expectation of receiving anything in return. This contribution keeps you on the path of living your values. It provides a higher purpose for you to share in and it is a gift you give to others that rewards your soul.
We've all experienced the hurt and anger of a personal slight, deception, or betrayal. And what happens? Trust is broken. Pride is hurt. You're angry at the other person and, sometimes, even yourself. What do we do with all those emotions? In some cases, old grudges can fester for years or whole lifetimes. Most people tend to think of forgiveness as something you grant to the other person. I disagree. To me, we don't forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive because we deserve it. Forgiveness is not for other people. It is purely for ourselves. The act of forgiveness is about letting go of the anger and releasing the hurt so that you can be free and at peace in your life. Forgiveness turns anger about the past into hope for the future. Otherwise, you are stuck in a story about the past that limits and imprisons you. And self-forgiveness is just as, if not more, important than forgiving others. So, let it go. Otherwise, you will never be free, never truly at peace with yourself.
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