Tia was a busy mom and a schoolteacher living in Illinois. Her husband was a salesman that often had to travel for work and her kids were active in many extracurriculars. No matter how hard she tried to simplify her life, it felt like something major was always going on. One day, she complained to a friend that she was constantly overwhelmed by the chaos around her. “I just wish my life were peaceful,” she said. Erin, Tia’s friend, encouraged her to stop looking at her life that way. She said, “Being at Peace is a choice. It doesn’t depend on your circumstances. You can choose to be at peace regardless of what’s going on around you.” Like Tia, you may have a busy, hectic lifestyle. I know I do! You may long for peace and calm and feel as if you simply can’t achieve them. But peace isn’t merely the absence of noise or chaos. Inner peace is an intentional decision you have to make each day. Sometimes, even multiple times during the day! There are many amazing benefits to making the choice to live with inner peace, regardless of what your life looks like right now. Here are just a few… Benefit #1: Better Health When you’re allowing yourself to live in a state of constant stress, you’re putting your body and your health under a significant strain. Being chronically stressed raises your blood pressure, causes your body to produce too much cortisol, and makes you cranky. But when you choose inner peace, your attitude and mindset aren’t just affected. So is your body. As your essence rests in the now, your blood pressure drops, your adrenals stop producing stress hormones, and you find it easier to be pleasant. Benefit #2: Improved Sleep Another benefit of choosing peace is better sleep. You’ve probably had nights where you spent most of your time in bed tossing and turning because you were worried or angry over a situation. Maybe you had control over this situation and maybe you didn’t. Either way, you lost sleep since you were experiencing a lack of peace. But with inner peace, it doesn’t matter what’s going on. You can still relax and find rest. Not because your circumstances are perfect. But simply because you chose to let go of stress. Benefit #3: Better Relationships Being at peace means you’re not trying to control what others are or aren’t doing. Instead, you create loving boundaries that give both of you the freedom to be who you are. That’s the beauty of choosing peace—you don’t have to focus on what others are doing. Benefit #4: Ability to Focus Chaos can feel like you’re fighting fires with a squirt gun. Even if you do manage to get one out, the next one quickly becomes a blaze that feels absolutely overwhelming, and you wonder how much longer you can keep doing this. Inner peace is a gift you give yourself. But it also gives you the gift of focus. Since you are no longer panicking over every fire, you concentrate on the ones that truly matter and you work on putting them out first. Benefit #5: Letting Go of the Past The past can hold you prisoner. Maybe it was the hurtful words your spouse said to you or the heartache of a traumatic childhood. The truth is that you can’t always control what happens to you or what happened in the past. But choosing inner peace means you can release the past. This doesn’t mean that you have to forgive those who have hurt you or that you need to reconnect with someone who was toxic. It simply means that you can embrace where you are now while acknowledging that something awful happened. Benefit #6: Stop Focusing on the Future Chaos often stems from a focus on the future. You’re constantly playing the what-if game and thinking of everything that could go wrong. You’re trying to be there when you’re firmly in the here. This creates stress and anxiety that you are choosing to carry. Peace forces you to stop thinking about what could happen. It takes you out of the imagined future and plants your feet firmly in the only moment that you can control—the beautiful now. In the movie Bride of Spies, Tom Hanks plays a lawyer defending a Russian man accused of being a spy during the Cold War. In the movie, he asks his client if he’s worried about being tried as a traitor. The client calmly says, “Would it help?” Over and over again, Tom Hanks asks the question. But no matter how bad the circumstances, the client refuses to worry. Each time, he quietly points out that it simply won’t help him to fret over his situation. It’s a good question to ask yourself when you feel you’re slipping further from peace. Ask yourself, “Is worrying about this work report helping me write it? Is fretting about my marriage helping it? Is being troubled over my health helping it?” If the answer is a simple “no” then it’s time to commit to choosing peace! Benefit #7: Better Self-Control If you let the circumstances around you control you, then chances are you’ve done or said something that you regret. But when you choosing to live with inner peace, you develop the spirit of self-control. Instead of reacting to circumstances, you have the power to respond calmly. Benefit #8: More Patience with Yourself and Others Choosing inner peace allows you to be more patient with yourself and with those around you. Instead of getting upset when you’re running late and the barista gives you the wrong order, you can take a deep breath and remind yourself that you can choose to be calm and gentle in the moment. Benefit #9: Don’t Worry about What Others Think A key point of anxiety for many people is that they’re constantly worrying about what others think of them and how they’ll be perceived. This can rob you of peace and keep you from approaching others as your authentic self. Instead, you hide behind a mask and never truly get to know those around you. But choosing inner peace means you can make the bold declaration, “What others think about me isn’t my business!” It frees you to show up as you really are—warts and all—because you know that no one has the power to break you. Benefit #10: Become More Intentional When you’re focused on inner peace and you stop reacting to everything, you take back your power and start becoming more intentional with how you spend your time, your money, and your energy. Benefit #11: No Can Manipulate You There are sources around you constantly trying to manipulate how you feel and what you think. These sources can include a verbally abusive spouse, a narcissistic parent, the media, and even social networking apps. But when you choose peace, you stop playing the game. You stop responding to the latest news story in anger and instead quietly question what the headline is trying to manipulate you into feeling. Benefit #12: Get More Energy The truth is that many people sap their own energy by choosing to be stressed out, overworked, and overwhelmed. But choosing peace leads to more energy. It’s not that your to-do list magically changes. It’s that you’ve made a conscious choice on how you’ll approach it. In Closing: Peace Is Yours Peace isn’t something magical that’s only gifted to a few and it’s not a feeling reserved only for those who have easy lives (spoiler alert: no one does!). Peace can be yours today, but you have to make the decision to claim it and choose to walk in it.
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