I have some annoying neighbors who play an outdoor radio seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset, at full volume. I can hear it through my bedroom walls. My daughter hears it through her noise-cancelling headphones while she tries to do homework. We’ve started to avoid using the sunroom or front porch. After a year of this shocking disregard for others, it has become a daily challenge to keep my home the haven of calm and peace that I have tried to cultivate. It produces a kind of constant tension – much like recent national events.
It seems that everyone is in a turmoil. The volume has been turned up and left on. The political climate and recent events have everyone on an adrenaline roller coaster, with many of us feeling jittery and wishing for a quiet space to collect ourselves. Frankly, I’m exhausted. I don’t care where you stand on current events, you have got to be feeling distressed about some part of it. I’m not here to debate for a particular side – in fact, I’m politically neutral – but the air that has permeated our culture affects us all.
I’ve been wondering why I continue to feel this way, and how I can return to a calmer version of myself.
There are numerous reasons for our current state, but here’s one that seems especially applicable. David Brooks, political pundit and author of THE ROAD TO CHARACTER, recently stated in an interview that he believes the media has made politics into a team sport, with citizens rooting for “my” side vs. the “other” side. Yet, government is not a sports league with winners and losers and scorecards (although the media presents it as such). He posits that society has become more interested in seeing their team “win” than in problem solving.
He also believes that for most people, politics have replaced morality. If a thing is politically acceptable, then it no longer matters if it is morally or ethically right. This means that no person can truly feel 100% affiliation with a party or person, because no one can admit that all political choices are also morally and ethically correct. This creates contradiction within the individual, which results in anger, resentment, fear, depression, and a host of other emotions. Which makes them act out, or be defensive, or hide, or whatever. I believe this helps me, at least, to put the world’s (and some acquaintances’) behaviors and point of view into perspective. We are seeing internal conflict projected outwardly.
For the person (like myself) who maintains Christian neutrality, I came across these interesting questions that I leave here purely for reflection:
- As a citizen of God’s kingdom, if I am not upset by the politics in Spain or Greece or Indonesia, why would I be invested in the politics of this country?
- If the end has already been determined, then God is not wringing his hands in anxiety over the affairs of the world. Why should I?
I also remembered a favorite quote attributed to just about everybody, but featured to good effect in the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:
Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright, then it is not the end.
But until the end, how do we maintain a sense of peace, hope, and happiness while the neighbors are blasting their stereo at full volume? Here’s 12 Ways to Keep Your Peace that I am going to implement today:
12 Ways to Keep Your Peace
- Avoid news outlets and social media. These are a source of anxiety. When you want to catch up on world events, choose an appropriate method.
- When researching, consider only trusted, unbiased, and whenever possible, primary sources for information. If the source proclaims to be trustworthy and unbiased, you should triple-check this claim.
- Focus on positive, spiritual, nature-centered, and local/family truths. Also, being mindful of which things you have control over (and which you do not) can be helpful.
- Pursue a calm spirit.
- Spend more time in today than you do in the future or the past. You can only be in today. The past is gone, and the future unknowable.
- Return to (or increase time in) something you enjoy, a hobby, or art.
- Go to bed early. Your brain needs a break.
- Get some exercise. Your body needs to release some tension.
- Make a list. It relieves the pressure of carrying things in your head.
- Say no. You need more time to reflect and re-center. Accepting more noise and busy-ness in your life is counter-productive to the goal of regaining your peace.
- Be still. Take a nap, go for a walk in nature with no headphones, meditate, breathe.
- Break out of the negative emotional loop of others by countering with the opposite emotion. The opposite of hate is love. The opposite of anger is compassion. The opposite of despair is hope. Identify the negativity you encounter and consciously exercise its opposite.
Here’s a more attractive reminder I made for myself below. I hope you can keep your peace, and if you have another method I haven’t listed here, please share it!