Each one of us has the potential to be one of two persons—one who is calm, tranquil, and peaceful, or one who is agitated, anxious, and easily angered. The difference between the two types is a narrow one, and our personal behavior is a major influencing factor on our peace of mind. Following are five effective ways to rise above conflict and bring more peace into your life.
1. spend time in nature
Being in a natural setting is vital for an overall sense of peace and harmony. Gospel writer Luke reports that Jesus often retreated to nature for spiritual renewal (Luke 5:16). Today’s science confirms the wisdom that being outdoors is calming and soothing.
Many people in Japan visit nature parks because of the therapeutic effect they gain. In fact, spending time in nature has become a popular practice. It’s called “shinrin-yoku,” or “forest bathing.” Researchers recruited 280 people who were willing to cooperate in an experiment. On one day, half the group was instructed to walk through a forest or wooded area for a few hours, while others walked through a city area. The second day, the people traded places. The scientists found that being in the forest resulted in “lower concentrations of cortisol (the body’s stress hormone), lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,” among other things.
2. read and reread the psalms
Clearly and consistently, the Psalms point the way to peace in the presence of life’s challenges. Reading and rereading such verses as these can fill your mind and consciousness with an unparalleled sense of peace and confidence: “In you, Lord, I have taken refuge. . . . Rescue me and deliver me. . . . Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; . . . for you are my rock and my fortress” (Psalm 71:1–3). “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. . . . In God I trust and am not afraid” (Psalm 56:3, 4). “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
3. think peaceful thoughts
When anxieties threaten to overwhelm you, shift your focus toward faith and hope. Many people lack inner peace because they continue allowing themselves to think stressful, fearful, negative thoughts. Reduce and even eliminate disquieting thoughts by placing your focus upon this biblical teaching: “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
4. don’t be troubled by trouble
Peaceful people know that life is unpredictable and constantly shifting. So they appreciate good times and manage difficult times well. Author Toni Bernhard explains that “waking up to the realities of the human condition is crucial so that we know what to expect in life. If we’re deluded about what to expect, we suffer mentally when things don’t go our way. And so, I want to be awake to the fact that life can be hard at times and that many of my desires and wishes will go unfulfilled. Understanding this helps me accept and be content with my life as it is, because I know that I simply cannot always get what I want—no one can. It’s a reality of the human condition.”
5. be a forgiver
Inner peace is heightened when forgiveness is extended. It’s impossible to be a peaceful person while holding a grudge, harboring feelings of resentment, or entertaining thoughts of revenge. That’s why author Karen Salmansohn gives this advice: “Forgive them. All of ‘them.’ The more ‘thems’ you can forgive, the better you will feel”!
Ultimately, having inner peace on earth simply means increasing attitudes and actions that bring calm and tranquility while reducing those that generate disorder and chaos.
Victor Parachin is a freelance writer who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a frequent contributor to Signs of the Times.®