How a Peaceful Life Is Still Possible in a Stressed-Out World

There's no question that life in the 21st century is stressful.


But hasn't "life is stressful" always been true?  Our ancestors worried about surviving a freezing winter, about hail or locusts or something else that might destroy crops, about predatory animals, about disease and injury....  At least most of us have no worries about heat, food, wild animals, or whether we can get decent medical care when we need it.


Humans have always lived with stressors, but today we do things that add even more.  We could choose to avoid some of the factors that make life more difficult than it has to be, but to succeed, we need to shift our mindset.


busy, busy people


9 ways to simplify life for more peace


1.  Unplug.

We haven't always had mobile phones, but now we "must" have them at all times.  Some of us sleep with them.


Try leaving your phone in your car when you go out, or in another room when you're at home.  Go about your tasks and think your own thoughts without responding to every ring or ding.  Turn off notifications, delete social media apps, and spend more time looking at the people and the world around you than at a screen.


2.  Turn off TV news.

News programs aren't about the news anymore – they're about attracting viewers so they can earn more advertising dollars.  Controversy and disaster are replayed and enlarged so that we won't look away.


The world is chaotic.  But can you do more about it if you watch more TV news?  Choose one trusted newspaper (online or in print) and read your news.  Stay away from items that are there simply for shock value.


3.  Bundle errands.

As much as possible, plan your errands, appointments, and extra-curricular activities so you can run around less but get more done.  Choose one or two days per week when you'll be out and about, and let yourself focus on work, school, or home the other days.


4.  Get outside.

wild horses, New Forest UK
At least look out the window.  Even in the city you'll see the sky, trees, pigeons, squirrels, or somebody's cute pet.  Go to the park or a garden for more birds, bushes, butterflies, and bees.  Let yourself relax and simply watch, listen, smell, and feel.  When you have a chance, take a drive out of the city for a hike or a picnic.


5.  Give up perfection.

No one is perfect, but some of us can't stop trying.  


Yet good is almost always good enough.  Work hard when you're working, do your best, but stop obsessing.  Instead of demanding an impossible ideal, aim for self-improvement.  See life as a journey, and appreciate how far you've come.


6.  Let go of regret.

If you can do something to improve a situation, do it.  Don't sit around and moan.  But some mistakes are long past and can't be changed.  We all beat ourselves up.  Our internal voice blames and criticizes and condemns, and we listen and feel hopeless.


What ever it is, it's done.  Set your eyes on today and choose as much grace and kindness as you can.


7.  Stop comparing.

We either look down on others who are different or who do things differently, or we look up at those who have more than we do and feel jealous and discontented.  That's when our culture steps in to sell us the solution:  "Just buy this car/house/cruise/outfit/phone and you'll feel better and make up for all the ways you don't measure up!"


If you want a simpler, happier life, dropping the habit of comparison is a step in the right direction.


8.  Reduce clutter.

The less you own, the less you have to deal with.  Stuff you don't use or care about just gets in the way.  It steals your time and energy.  Life is too short to spend it cleaning, organizing, paying for, and shuffling through all of those extras.


Start small.  Even five minutes can make a difference.


9.  Remember the Sabbath.

cozy reading nook
Taking one day a week to rest from work and business (including shopping) so you can reflect, give thanks, and do good is not a burden – it's a gift.  It's the antidote to our frazzled and exhausting 24/7/365 way of life.


It's a good idea to prepare for the Sabbath ahead of time.  Try to buy groceries, clean house, run that errand, finish the laundry, and answer your emails by the evening before.  Then you might spend your Sabbath:

  • napping
  • reading
  • praying
  • walking
  • biking
  • volunteering for a cause you care about
  • making or listening to music
  • enjoying silence
  • writing thank you notes
  • spending time with family and friends

The slower pace is peaceful, but even more important is the shift from our work-and-consume mindset.  A Sabbath practice makes room to nurture our spirits in a stressed-out world.


Comments

  1. I enjoyed the ideas you have written here and believe they all have a lot of merit. The only thing I would add to it is to attend church on your Sabbath day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Caroline. I agree with you - but not everyone who reads this blog is a church-goer. Doesn't mean they can't still enjoy a Sabbath rest.

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