|The Shape of Peace
The holiday season is upon us, and everywhere there are songs and signs in store windows promoting peace on Earth, and selling merchandise with it. This year we have the great blessing of bringing troops home from war zones by the end of the year.
Despite all this celebration of the concept of peace, I still see so many people (as well as nations) putting far more energy into fighting, arguing, drama and blaming than into creating peace. The media pays holiday lip service to peace but it is also endlessly searching for excitement and dramathe opposites of peace. We are immersed in this culture of over-stimuation. My colleague, dating coach Bobbi Palmer, and I were talking about the confusion our clients have about what constitutes a healthy relationship, and we agreed that those who can’t seem to make a relationship work have expectations of endless excitement and passion, when healthy love is a very peaceful experience. The more dramatic a relationship is, the more dysfunction it contains.
Learning to live peacefully isn’t easy in our current social and political climate. I admire the Occupy Wall Street movement for emulating Mohandas Gandhi and striving to be non-violent in their protests, even in the midst of being sprayed with Mace.
Gandhi said “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of italways.” He brought a mighty nation to its knees by holding that thought.
Most of us cannot imagine taking the risks Gandhi took to wage a struggle in a peaceful way. But we can strive in our small ways to make peace not just a sentiment of the holiday season, but a centerpiece of our lives. Gandhi also said: “Peace is its own reward.” He was right, because when we are peaceful, life works better. Relationships go more smoothly, and problems are more easily solved, because when we’re peaceful inside, we can think more clearly and access our creativity.
Peace Pilgrim, who walked around this enormous country to promote peace, said: “When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” And Buddha said “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” I see it in my practice every day. When my clients learn to make peace on the inside, it’s much easier to wage peace everywhere.
Peace begins inside yourself. When you can remain calm even though things are not going well, or someone is being annoying, or you’ve been severely disappointed, you’re beginning to create a more peaceful world. When you can be kind, caring and walk away from things and people that are upsetting; rather than challenging, being defensive or getting even; you’re creating peace where there might have been conflict. When you spend some time relaxing, meditating, cuddling up or doing what you love, you’re creating a mental and physical experience of peace that lowers your blood pressure, reduces your stress, heals your body, and opens your creativity.
When inner peace reigns, it spreads outward from yourself to your friends and family; and even strangers. Your calm and caring interior creates “vibes” that are soothing and comforting to those around you. If you can smile at the grocery cashier after the previous customer was cranky, or touch your dear one’s hand when things get edgy, or call a friend who’s going through a struggle just to say you understand; you’re creating a more peaceful family and community.
Peaceful communities work together to accept and help each other. When your neighbors rally to bring food and medicine to a friend who is ill; when we all work together to fix a local problem or pass some beneficial community laws, or just say a friendly “Hi” or pass the time of day with our neighbors; we’re creating a more trusting and peaceful society.
When we take care to make thoughtful political choices, with an eye to what is good for our neighbors as well as ourselves, and consideration for the future as well as today; in response to reasoned thinking rather than reaction to agitated commercials, we are creating a more peaceful world. When we follow the old precept to ‘think globally; act locally’ we’re creating conditions for world peace and prosperity.
Happiness is not so much getting what we want as it is acting and thinking in ways that nurture connections and harmony. Within the nurturing environment we create, love and happiness can flow and grow. My holiday wish for all of us is to take the small, quiet steps and learn the shape of peace.
The Shape of Peace
How shall we know When peace is here to stay?
How can we grow in peaceful, loving ways?
When will the struggle be transformed into the dance?
Can faith be strong enough to take the chance?
Chorus: Hold out your hand and touch the shape of peace
And side by side we’ll watch the struggle cease
The Hand of God will touch and heal the breach
When we are one, when we have learned
The shape of peace
The shape of peace is in the silent stars
That dance in time to Power beyond ours
We can’t escape, we cannot shout it down
After the battle, the silence is profound
© 2011 Tina B. Tessina adapted from: It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page) ISBN 1-56414-469-9
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley) and The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs (New Page); Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage and her newest, Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She publishes “Happiness Tips from Tina”, an e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance Blog.” Online, she is “Dr. Romance” with columns at Divorce360.com, Wellsphere.com, and Yahoo!Personals, as well as a Redbook Love Network expert. Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC news. She tweets @tinatessina and is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tinatessina and http://www.facebook.com/#!/DrRomanceBlog
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