John 16:33 - I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Peace. It eludes us. We rush around in life trying to cross the intersection before the light turns from yellow to red. But even though we crossed as fast as we could to get to the other side, peace is already a mile down the road. Peace is not something you can chase after.
In this world we will have trouble:
Yes, there is plenty of trouble to go around. And trouble in any one of these areas can disrupt our peace.
So off we go to dash through that intersection as quickly as we can. What we don’t always understand though is peace is not something you can chase after. It’s in the stillness that we find peace. Yet how many of us truly know how to be still. There, in the stillness, is where we can find that peace.
When you find yourself winding up inside, take a few calming breaths. Close your eyes and picture yourself beside a stream or an ocean where the water rhythmically flows. Take that scene and see every detail of where you are. The more detailed you imagine a quiet place the more you will relax.
Another way to unwind is to find a comfortable place to sit or lie down if you need to. Close your eyes as you did in the example above and take a few calming breaths. This time though contract and release different parts of your body. Begin with your feet and work your way up to your head. As you contract and release notice how your body feels. Is it becoming more relaxed or does it tighten up the minute you move on to another part of your body? If it’s tight, it may help to work on the muscles that are tense and tighten and release them again.
If you can’t find a place to calm yourself while indoors, get up out of your chair and take a walk outside. Begin once again with a few calming breaths. As you walk, don’t focus on the work you’ve left stacked on your desk, but notice your surroundings. Listen to the sound of birds singing or examine the leaves on the trees moving in the breeze.
There are many other methods you can use to be still such as reading a book, knitting, using adult coloring books or praying. Whatever you choose to do, remember to start with those few calming breaths.
Then as you return to your work area you may notice that you don’t see things quite as stressful as before. The calming exercises can also be used while you’re at home or even while in line at the grocery store.
Medium.com in their article, “Strategies to Find Your Balance and Inner Peace,” lays out some ideas on how to find peace. One of the ways is to focus your attention on things you can control not those that you can’t. That thing you’re worrying about happening isn’t within your control right now so why waste time worrying about it. Another way is to do good deeds. Helping others is a great way to get your mind off yourself and what is causing you to lose your peace. Read the article to find more ways to help you regain your peace.
Peace can be attainable in our troubled world especially as we realize that Jesus has overcome the world and is right beside us, as we find a way to be still instead of thinking that peace is something we can chase after. Jesus is our ultimate peace.
Galatians 6:4, 5 - Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
When people talk about an unpleasant situation, some can always find that silver lining. But the rest of us. Well. When something unpleasant is happening, we don’t just see the glass half empty. We can’t even see that a glass exists in the first place!
No matter what may be happening, good or bad, the pessimist always looks at the bad and can’t believe that things will ever work out. They believe if we don’t expect that something good will happen then we won’t be disappointed.
A lot depends on our past experiences. As children, we learn quickly whether we’re one of the “cool” kids or someone that gets stomped on.
As adults, pessimists try to overcompensate for their lack of “coolness” by finding shortcuts, cheating and lying their way through believing that they’ll get the next promotion instead of their coworkers. Pessimists still try to achieve that fame which will make them look cool. But they never quite get there. And this coping mechanism turns into pessimism.
It’s here that the pessimist learns to lower his expectations in life. After all, if we don’t expect that something good will happen then we won’t be disappointed. Right? I don’t think so.
Even in the dark valley of our broken hearts there still beats a longing for a different outcome in life. So how does one drop the pessimism and transform into an optimist?
First, let’s go back to the food chain and see what we can learn -- Even at the bottom of the food chain there’s still that silver lining. Pessimists discover that they’re not the only one down there. They learn that together they’re not a disappointment after all. And they don’t have to cheat and lie their way to the top.
Next, we can learn that it’s never too late to turn our life around. It may hurt when disappointment greets us at the door, but it doesn’t mean that it has to permanently live with us. Don’t drop your expectations. Believe that good is just around the corner. Keep your eyes and ears open looking for how you can grow through the situation.
Third, be aware of the affect other people can have on your attitude. There’s power in those pessimistic friends of yours. Have you ever noticed that when you’re around a pessimist that pretty soon you’re riding the same train to that cloudy sky?
Forth, get some help. There’s no shame in admitting we can’t get through a bad situation alone. Instead of worrying how bad you might look to your boss, ask for help. He might surprise you by commending you for not being afraid to get his advice. This will show him that you’re in it for the long haul.
Psychologytoday.com also sheds some like on the problem of becoming an optimist instead of a pessimist in their article, “Becoming an Optimist – How to Turn Away from the Dark Side.” The article suggests that when you find yourself saying something negative, think of something positive to say and search for positive aspects of negative situations.
Take a look at the Bible verses above. Stop comparing yourself to others. Just do the best you can do in a situation. If you give your best and turn the outcome over to God, he will surely make a way for you to carry your load and to carry it well. Don’t just see the glass half-empty or half-full. Your glass is always ready to become a full glass and to turn you from a pessimist into an optimist. And you will soon believe that if you do expect something good to happen, we don’t have to worry that we’ll just be disappointed. Learn to see the good.
Isaiah 63:9 - In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Stress is an everyday occurrence in our lives. It can be a “good” kind of stress like getting a new job or having company over for dinner. However, it can also be a “bad” kind of stress like losing a job, not being able to pay your bills, or having a flare-up of chronic pain.
But there is also a third kind of stress, and it’s called “secondhand stress”.
Have you ever been at the airport waiting for your flight and a guy at the end of your row of seats is on his phone and obviously stressed out? You can tell by his voice and body language.
So, can you catch another person’s stress like you can catch the flu?
The answer is yes. Stress can be passed on through things like facial expressions, the sound of their voice, odor and touch.
It’s hard enough to avoid getting stressed when you’re in difficult circumstances, but you can also get stressed just by being around someone who is stressed or by watching something stressful on TV. What’s on TV then can become another example of secondhand stress.
Distress is another concern. This is when you’ve experienced stress on a daily, lengthy time period. This kind of stress has negative effects on the body. Examples are: stomach aches, muscle tension, headaches, raised blood pressure and mental effects such as anxiety and depression.
Hbr.org in their article, “Make Yourself Immune to Secondhand Stress,” tells us what Secondhand Stress is and how to keep yourself from being caught in it. Some of their suggestions include change your response by having a positive mindset about stress. Another idea is to inoculate yourself against stress by thinking of three things you can be thankful for in your day.
In the Bible verse above we see that even God was distressed as the Israelites were distressed. He feels what we feel. You’re not alone in your distress. God’s love and mercy can lift us up away from anyone’s secondhand stress and place us back onto green pastures of the heart and mind.
Psalm 143:8 - Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
Out the front window you can see your car parked in the driveway. That’s the same place the car bedded down for the night for many years. Yet sitting there, with no one in front of the wheel, the car is alone.
Alone. That’s a word that you’ve felt for some time yourself. You’ve been stranded on a desert island, because you can no longer come and go as you please.
I know what that’s like, because I’m the one looking out my window, but the car’s not just parked there alone. It’s gone. Someone else has it. And with the loss of my car came a loss of my independence.
But it’s a choice I had to make. About three years ago I developed double vision. There were many things that the doctors tried to help my vision go back to normal. But it hasn’t.
I thought I’d be independent again after purchasing new glasses. And yes, the glasses did help some. But not enough. So here I am, looking out my window and feeling alone.
Now I have to depend on other people to take me where I need to go – the grocery store, church, to pick up prescriptions and to doctor’s appointments. Depending on other people has not always been easy for me, because of my past. It’s really a trust issue.
Trusting the person behind the wheel. Trusting that they’ll get you to your appointments on time. Trusting that this is what they want to do not something that’s been thrust upon them that they feel they have to do, “their duty”.
Many people have been kind to me and have supported my mixed feelings about needing someone else’s help. I look at them in the eye and wonder if they think I’m in some way faking what my body is going through and that I want to be sick. Just so that I have someone to see. To talk to. To feel for a few moments like someone cares.
So if I break through my trust issues and lay my needs at the feet of another person, it has been my goal to not just take their help, but to also give something back in return. My gift back to the people who support me is to encourage them. Just because they have the physical ability to drive you somewhere, or clean your house or cook some meals, they have needs, too. I watch for small opportunities to clearly tell them how important they are and what their service means to me.
Leanonwe.com in their article, “5 Simple Ways to Help Your Senior Trust a New Caregiver,” provides us with some suggestions you can take to ease a new caregiver into the care for a senior. Their suggestions can also apply to someone who has in-home support service but not a live-in caregiver. First, they suggest that you involve other family members. Get the help on some responsibilities from other family members. This can help the senior get used to trusting other people to help them. Along the same vein, transition slowly. Plain a visit from the new caregiver to simply get to know the senior. This will help with trust issues as they build confidence in this new person in their lives. The family should share with the senior their feelings about the process and ask for the senior’s feelings as well. Feeling needed and involved, rather than helpless, is an important element of a senior’s emotional heath.
When we trust in God’s unfailing love, he will show us the way to go. And that means he will also direct us toward someone we can trust to help fill in the gap for us.
Luke 6:45 - A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
“Well, Susan, it’s time to hang up for now. We’ll talk later.”
“Ok, Denise. Have a good day. Bye.”
Let’s take a look at this conversation. When you end a phone call do you say your “goodbye” with a monotone voice, a depressed goodbye with a downward tone, or with your voice lifted?
I’ve thought a lot about this lately and have been paying attention to my phone conversations. I think the tone of your voice at the end a phone call matters.
I know you may be depressed, angry, or have had a really bad day. You don’t feel like being positive.
And I’m not suggesting that we try to hide what’s going on. Sometimes there are very valid reasons why our voice may be shaking as in the loss of a loved one or frustration with a project that keeps hitting roadblocks.
However, often our feelings are expressed in our words and how we say them. Our communication with others is not just about what we say but how we say it that counts.
And, since we can’t see the reactions of a caller through facial features or body language, the words we speak, and the tone of our voice is that much more important. It may be the only thing we have to go on. The same is true of the listener becoming the speaker. It shows the attitude you’re showing to that person.
While speech is how you use words, voice is how you create sound. To your listeners, your voice is a part of who you are and what you believe.
Wikihow.com in their article, “How to Develop a Friendly Tone of Voice,” talks about some of the things that affect how we speak including changing your speaking patterns by slowing down your speech as well as important words in your sentence should be spoken in a higher pitch while lower pitches can show calmness to your listeners and will keep people engaged while you speak. In addition, don’t just keep the conversation one sided. Allow your listening time to speak into the conversation as well.
The Bible verses above talk about our hearts and that what we speak is out of the overflow of our hearts. What’s inside finds its way outside. So let’s paint a picture with our voice that we want to pass on to our listener.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.