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QUINTESSENCE

Be Your Peace

There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking.
- William James

It's been a most interesting few months of late. My husband and I, talking about this next phase of life, both together and individually (he is about to become a grandfather through his oldest son), have invoked that old truism, Life is What You Make of It. It feels important to us both to transform "gateway events" - the celebratory, the sorrowful or unexpected, all that is joyful and generational - into meaningful life choices. To remember that each gate we pass through is an opportunity to chose. And in choosing, we make life.

Certainly one can drift hopeless through the days and life will happen, more accidental than desired. But if you believe as William James, the philosopher (brother to Henry James, the well-known novelist), that we all possess the personal authority to invoke and intend the life we most desire, then why toss on the tides instead?

I've been receiving reader email lately on the seemingly unavoidable stress of the holidays, family life, and work. I'm thinking of all the bits of wisdom I might offer, having grown up in a thrifty, financially-challenged military and then later, single parent family; and, in my own life raising two kids through the sorrows, financial and parenting struggles that losing a co-parent and spouse bring. While mulling these challenges over, I realized the bright star on the horizon through everything, in my mother's life and my own, was a vision of survival. Intention. While there was never any way to know how or why we would get the job done, we both adopted constancy, check and check-mate with life on an almost daily basis. My mother leaned heavily on the practical, and her spiritual faith; I leaned more knowingly into the reality that only one person could make any certain difference and that person was me. I took every shot, walked through every open door, left no card unplayed. And at the end of the day, having done my best, I accepted the universe was in charge of the rest.

Interestingly, a side effects of this habit of holding onto a vision, is the dissolution of personal stress. Daily stress arises in part from the cognitive dissonance between what we expect of ourselves and life, and what we can do, or accept. The gulf between expectation and reality can leave us anxious and dissatisfied, worried. Choose a personal "Joy" vision this season. As your family or in-laws arrive in town, or you travel for the holidays, contemplate how delightful these days might be, how you feel about family and its importance to you, what you can do to Be the peace and joy you desire. Even if only you hold to that beautiful tranquility and love, it will be enough. Peace rubs off on others, it always does.

I have heard it said that Peace is Joy sitting still, and Joy is Peace jumping to its feet. We're jumping into new dreams, my hubby and I. And I hope you do too. Find your own perfect constellation in these holidays, my friends.
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