It’s been a very eventful year, 2016. You’d agree, especially if you’ve followed the news and/or been on social media these last 12 months. I came away from the year with plenty of lessons under my belt, some of which I blogged about under my 10 lessons from 2016.
The Word of the year concept was one I used in 2015, to set the tone for the year ahead. It’s not a goal or a resolution, as such. Think of it more as a way to attract the emotion evoked by that word.
So, my word of the year for 2017 is going to be:
Why, you ask? It’s pretty simple. It came to me one day in December when I was feeling overwhelmed by the many things happening in my life. In one of those frenzied moments, I sat down, put my hands together and wished out loud, ‘Peace. Someone give me peace.’ That’s when it happened.
Peace will be my core focus for all of 2017 and if done consciously, will extend beyond that too. Here are three ways I’m trying to cultivate peace in my life.
Peace as a writer/blogger
You probably know, if you’ve read my blog, that I steer clear of most contentious topics. Broadly, these apply to politics, the economy and even religious beliefs. It was a self-imposed rule of mine and I wound up breaking that rule not once or twice, but probably four times. And the backlash was visible. It resulted in more people reading the blog, although that wasn’t the goal, really. I just had all this pent-up angst and anger and I threw it out on the site because I considered it my safe haven. Ironic then that I felt more upset and defeated by the responses than safe or peaceful.
This break from blogging that I took in December 2016 has helped put a lot of things into perspective. I’ve finally found a pace and level of comfort that makes me glad. I know what I need to write about and how to do it without compromising on my peace of mind. I may still tangentially touch on topics that affect me, but I’ll try to focus more on the writing process rather than the response to it.
I’ll also aim to generate positive and fruitful relationships with bloggers old and new, so we can progress together on this journey. In cooperation we find our greatest strengths.
That is my path to peace as a blogger and writer.
Peace as a parent
As this post goes out to each of you to read, it is with a quiet sense of joy that I share this next bit: I’ve officially gone 485 days without yelling at my daughter. Now, this took effort but more than that, it took a conscious shift in perspective as a parent.
I’m an advocate of positive parenting, that which allows the child flexibility to explore her dreams while listening to the guidance and counsel we can give her as parents. One thing I learnt particularly through this non-yelling phase was learning to relinquish the idea of control and step into the shoes of empathy. We’ll get into more detail on how this happened, on my parenting blog soon.
Peace as a social media user
This is probably the most important lesson of all that came from peace. Social media is a wonderful tool, if we allow it to exist just as a tool instead of letting it play havoc with our emotions.
A comment I’d left on a status triggered a rather unexpected response and I was taken aback by the anger that followed. I shouldn’t really be surprised since social media is the perfect place to find a whole lot of misplaced aggression. While I was initially upset (very very upset), I took the time to let this be a lesson. I waited for the hurt to dissipate and let myself see the situation from another perspective: This had happened for a reason.
I was probably spending more time on social media than was good for me, worrying about the number of people I’d managed to upset or concerned about the lack of understanding. When I put all of this into a bubble and viewed it through the lens of peace, something beautiful happened. I let go.
Much like releasing a burning hot piece of coal from my fingers, I watched as the anger evaporated and peace took its place. With over a 1000 friends on Facebook and 3000 followers on Twitter, it is practically impossible to stay in touch with or be on the same page as every single person. Imagine having to explain yourself to that many people. You’d be at it for the better part of 5 years!
Instead, if I were to think carefully before saying anything at all on social media, I’d have a lot less explaining to do and I’d earn the biggest prize of all: peace of mind. Remember that all our explanations and arguments on social media will not effectively change the other person’s point of view. More importantly, it’s not right to expect that to happen.
You know that saying, ‘Let’s agree to disagree’. Try putting it into practice and actually meaning it when you say it. Your relationship with social media will undergo a sea change for the better.
Peace is a relatively easy state of mind to cultivate if you are ready for it. My Guru’s five-fold principle focuses on Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-Violence. The beauty of this approach is the minute you cultivate one principle, the other four naturally follow.
I realised that the only person who could actually make any of this happen was me. I cannot control my circumstances, but I can control how I respond to them.
Since resolutions and goals set on the first of January rarely work out, I figured out a way to help this happen. I started cultivating it in mid-December, thereby ensuring that I wasn’t waiting for a date on a calendar to begin a new practice.
And guess what: It’s working like a charm.