Peace. Isn’t that the elusive thing we’re all after? It’s sometimes a feeling of satisfaction, or the act of letting go. You can’t necessarily make it happen for yourself, but I am convinced that most us are regularly doing things that hinder our ability to feel at peace. Know what I’m talking about? It’s the restless feeling after scrolling for too long. The afternoons when you’ve been going nonstop and suddenly realize you forgot to eat. Or maybe it’s the crushing weight of all the problems in the world riding on your shoulders.
We might know intellectually that God is the Prince of Peace, that his plans are good, and that so many things in the world aren’t actually that important. But do we live like that? How do we concretely combat that feeling of restlessness and truly be at peace resting in the knowledge that God is with us?
Here are several basic ways we can cultivate peace in our everyday lives. I am no expert, so these are as much personal goals for myself as they are my recommendations for you.
1. Cut down your scrolling time.
You knew this was going to be included, right? Like so many other people, I spend too much time on my phone. When I’m constantly connected to the entire world, it leaves my mind feeling like a hamster wheel of information overload. I forget to pray or think deeply or be fully present. The times I’ve felt most in control of this bad habit are when I decide to not check social media before work, or after a certain time in the evening. I even took two weeks off social media this summer during a trip and barely missed it. If you’re scrolling too much, ask yourself:
Is my time online necessary, or am I distracting myself from something more important?
What are the key times of day, or specific situations, when I’m wasting time online? What’s something more meaningful I could do instead during those times?
What is my purpose in being online, and how does my time spent there reflect that?
2. Increase time in prayer.
We all know we should be praying more, right? When we forget to pray, we forget to bring God into our everyday lives, and things get out of hand and un-peaceful rather quickly. I usually say a quick prayer when I wake up, a rosary on the way to work, and random prayers throughout the day. Each week I ask people on Facebook to share any intentions I can remember for them. I used to read the daily readings in the morning, but fell out of that habit – I need to get back to it! And I don’t know about you, but I need silent prayer time too. That’s what really helps ground me and be at peace. I’ve found the Litany of Trust to be especially meaningful in growing in peace. There are so many devotions we can take up and ways to pray. As you’re considering how to alter your prayer habits, ask yourself:
Am I filling time I could be praying with other things? Which of those things can I intentionally cut back on?
What time of day are you not praying during when you could be? Is it your commute, nap time, lunch break, workout, or late at night? Pick a time and start with just 5 minutes praying how you like to best.
3. Get good sleep.
This is something I am horrible at, being barely better than my college self at getting to bed. Sometimes we have reasons good sleep is rarely possible, like cute little babies. But other times our lack of sleep is because of our lack of discipline. Being well rested isn’t just about being healthy, either. It’s about taking care of the body God gave us, and bringing peace to our lives by being able to think clearly. If you’re not getting enough sleep, ask yourself:
How much sleep makes you feel fully rested? Based on when you need to be up, what goal time does this mean you need to be heading to bed?
What am I doing late at night when I would ideally be in bed? If it’s something I can control (like Netflix or scrolling your phone), what steps can I take to get rid of that habit?
Nothing clears your mind quite like a good sweat session. Maybe it’s running every so often, streaming a video when you can grab a few minutes, or a little walk after dinner. I love group exercise classes. Even though I don’t really want to drag myself to the gym, I do usually get to Zumba once a week because I love it and it works for me at this point in my life. Exercise is such a good way to properly order our lives and minds. I am an all-around more centered person when I’m pushing myself and getting stronger. If you’re wanting to be in better shape and bring on the peace that comes with taking care of your body and mind, ask yourself:
During what time of day or week can I most realistically commit to working out?
What ways do I enjoy being active?
Can I involve family or friends in these activities to make it more enjoyable, or do I prefer to do it alone?
5. Find a hobby and invest in it.
After I graduated college and transitioned to full-time work, I found that more than ever, I needed to do something creative with my hands. It helps me step away from hamster-wheel-inducing information overload, and be peaceful, while doing something gratifying and meaningful. I’ve tried crochet, watercolors, calligraphy, and like to cook. I painted my Christmas card last year, write letters every so often, and was gifted with a keyboard this year I could be tinkering with more. Crafts aren’t everyone’s thing, so find your outlet! Maybe it’s starting a blog or learning new recipes or opening an Etsy store. It doesn’t have be big or impressive, just some skill or activity (or many) you can work on and enjoy growing in. It’s a peaceful and beautiful thing to work on your personal development and share your gifts and talents. If you’re still looking for what this might be, ask yourself:
Are there any activities I particularly enjoy and would like to explore more?
What kind of time and financial constraints should I consider?
How can I use my talents, gifts, and passions to bring more beauty to the world?
Peace is all about keeping life properly ordered, and allowing ourselves to remember that God is God and we are not. It’s stepping back from the frenetic pace of the world and resting in the fact that we are God’s beloved children who he loves individually. Even when life is hard, or we don’t understand how God’s working in it, he is there with us every step of the way. In little ways everyday, and through cultivating peaceful habits, we can trust in that and be at peace wherever he calls us.