It’s true that human history has always been marked by unsavoury events, but perhaps you share the feeling that these days, conflict, hatred, and violence suddenly seem to be all around us. Feeling you don’t really know what’s happening to the world is deeply unsettling and can threaten your inner peace and happiness.
Yet, there are things you can do to counteract these emotions. Here are some ideas on how you can promote peace within yourself – and with others – regardless of how uncertain the world around us may be.
When dealing with hatred and violence, finding ways to promote peace requires mindful action. Basically, you’ll need to disarm the inner world first in order to disarm the outer world.
Our first suggestion is practice mindfulness, not just because of its ability to transform your inner self, but because it can change your perception of the world. Indeed, scientific studies have shown that regular mindfulness practice appears to shrink the amygdala (the part of the brain that controls feelings of fear), while at the same time activating the pre-frontal cortex, which is associated with decision-making and awareness.
“When dealing with hatred and violence, finding ways to promote peace requires mindful action. Basically, you’ll need to disarm the inner world first in order to disarm the outer world.”
All this means that mindfulness can help us regulate our emotions instead of simply reacting to triggers, and can also help make more balanced judgements about what’s going on around us, as well as inside us. In a previous article, we discussed seven ways of practising mindfulness in your daily life, including mindful eating and drinking, gratitude walks and creating a start-of-the-day ritual.
Promote inner peace: mindfulness, in the form of gratitude walks, can make a difference
You may also find it useful to engage in shadow work. This transformational practice is based on the idea that our feelings and perceptions about ourselves dominate the way we feel and act towards others. The shadow is the “negative you” or “your dark side”, and instead of pushing it to the back of your mind or repressing it (as most of us feel tempted to do), you should explore it, to learn more about your own prejudices and misconceptions. The basic outline of shadow work looks like this:
Last but not least, remember that peace is not a goal that can be reached through certain mediums, but rather peace is the medium itself. In other words, use peace to bring inner peace by showing kindness and consideration towards your body and mind. For example, loving-kindness meditation has been proven to reduce self-criticism, promote peace with ourselves and others, and generate positive feelings towards strangers.
Of course, we should all do our best not only to promote peace in our minds, but also in the outside world. To do that, you don’t need to make grand gestures. As Buddhist author and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh said:
“Learn the art of making one person happy, and you will learn to express your love for the whole of humanity and all beings.”
Here are 10 easy-to-put-into-action gestures of peace and kindness:
Yoga can be the perfect opportunity to cultivate equanimity, another way of promoting peace
Cultivating equanimity can also help promote peace with the outside world. Equanimity is one of the Four Sublime States in the Buddhist tradition, and the word derives from Sanskrit expression that means “to see without interference”. Equanimity is also defined as even-mindedness, a balanced reaction to both positive and negative events or thoughts, and the ability to achieve a state of mind that cannot be affected by bias and prejudice, but that is driven by compassion instead.
Cultivating equanimity involves re-wiring your brain through conscious practice, and yoga provides the ideal conditions to work on this. Find your equanimity mantra (something that reminds you of the need to stay unbiased), start your yoga session, and take note of any negative reactions triggered by thoughts or people you dislike. Keep referring to your equanimity mantra while acknowledging that you are responsible for your own happiness and peace of mind.
When it comes to finding peace in troubled times, it’s important to resist isolation even if this seems to go against our most basic instincts. For example, you could get involved in community-building initiatives, as this can help establish meaningful conversations with those who hold different views. You can also join non-violence organisations, or learn more about how prejudice and stereotypes affect us by signing up to prejudice reduction workshops or seminars in your local area or online.
Finding kindness and peace within yourself and in the world won’t happen overnight, but mindfulness practice, shadow work, cultivating equanimity, and resisting isolation are all in the path to hope and joy. To cope with the troubled times we live in, you’ll need to be persistent and willing to challenge your inner self. Here's happiness.com's recommended resources and books to help you do just that:
Main photo: Colourbox.com
A social sciences graduate with a keen interest in languages, communication, and personal development strategies. Dee loves exercising, being out in nature, and discovering warm and sunny places where she can escape the winter.
If intimacy doesn't come naturally to you, new research suggests ways to improve your romantic relationships.
When people are
Corey Harnish shares his exploration of what kindness actually is, and how you can easily use it to improve your life and the lives of
Feeling connected to others in a world that's increasingly individualistic may seem a challenge, but as Dee Marques explains, there are some simple