6 Steps Towards Peace and Contentment

Peace and Contentment

We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. – Sam Keene

Once upon a time, there was a season for resolutions and realignment. Nowadays, that season is every day. 

We’re blessed and bombarded with ways, and means and reminders of how to set our goals, achieve more, and ultimately be more. As if what we were doing and who we are isn’t enough. As if we were somehow deficient and in need of fixing.

I’m guilty of this. Guilty as charged.

I’m in a somewhat constant state of improvement, like a house under constant renovation. There’s always a doorway to shift just so, or a wall to take down over there. Not to mention the replacement of old cabinets, and installation of new faucets.

I’m convinced that if I just change this, or that, then (finally!) I’ll be able to settle in and enjoy blissful stretches of time in my perfected state. 

If only…

In a funny twist of Universal humor, chasing after perfection and demanding fixes is the exact right way to never get what you’re looking for.
Without a little space to see the whole, without a little compassion, and skillfulness, it’s easy to end up with a something mismatched and lopsided.

And so, with this in mind, I asked myself what if I shifted my focus – and not the flaw?

What if I focused on things like caring and nourishing my tired and achy parts, instead of reprimanding and correcting them, like a 19th-century schoolmarm scolding her unruly students?

This shift of focus created a powerful revolution in my life. I started being nice to myself, forgiving the blemishes, leaving room for growth and encouraging the best. It was a love revolution.

The ugly parts suddenly weren’t so bad, and the bad parts really weren’t so bad after all. Best of all, I felt – well – perfect. Perfect just as is.

How did I do it? By following these basic steps.

6 Simple Steps Towards Peace and Contentment

1. Unplug

Technology and entertainment were created to serve us, not to enslave us to them. Still, asking someone to unplug from the machine can be anxiety-ridden for most. So, start small. Open your inbox and answer emails only twice a day. Put away your phone for a full hour when you first get home – and don’t check it.  Declare media-free days – no news, magazines, blogs, social media or television. Disconnect from the images and messages telling you that you need to give more, be more, do more to be enough.

2. Move

Our bodies are so much more than just flashy things that get us from one place to another. They are complex, sensitive systems that also house our memories, emotions, and spirit. Like so, moving our bodies is more than manipulating them into the shapes and sizes we prefer, it’s airing out and lubricating all our many systems – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. So get out and move your body. Do yoga. Go for long walks. Be silly. Lie on your back and act like an octopus. Skip, jump, to somersaults.

3. Play

Whoa boy, are we serious. Rent to pay, mouths to feed, bosses to please – obligations and responsibilities have a way of making us grouchy. A critical part of self-care is lightening up and playing for playing’s sake. Make your grocery list with crayons. Learn a joke, tell it. Sing in the car. Find a field and run through it.

4. Let Be

At some point, we all realize that we control little but our attitude. World events, cranky housemates, and a car in the shop just are. Letting things be is a radical concept. It’s not being passive or nonchalant. It’s taking responsibility for only what you can control: Yourself. Letting things be as they are is a practice of profound acceptance and is profoundly transformative.

5. Nourish

Feed your body, yes. Fresh foods, clean water, plenty of outdoor air. And feed your mind books, poems, music, news that expands you, and things that teach you how to be more fully human, present, and kind. Feed your soul, nourish it with lots of touches, beautiful sights, sounds, tastes and smells. And when the time is right, nourish yourself chocolate cake, good whiskey and a night of films and popcorn.

6. Commune

To commune is to intimately connect, with heightened sensitivity and receptivity, to your surroundings. It does a soul good to soften and open to the people, place, and spirit of your personal landscape. It comes with big words like trust, belief, and faith. This is living attuned to deep, resonate waves of self-care. Sit quietly. Watch the sky. Doodle. Feel the breezes and the rhythms of the seasons. Say thank you.

Mostly, and always, revel in the completeness and perfectness of who you are right now (even if you don’t have perfect eyebrows). You’re a shining star (even if your boss scowled at you today). You are magnificent.

Yes, you are!

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”― Eric Hoffer

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”   ― Eric Hoffer

Photo by Julia Roma