(7 minute read)
Do you thrive on chaos? Most of us do. From the super mom, to the top employee, to the 5 star athlete, chaos is king. Generally speaking, the more cram packed our schedules, the better we are; better parents, better employees, better lives in general.
At the same time no one dare utter their longing to find peace. How could you? Peace is boring. Chaos is exciting. Besides, the drama of a chaotic life brings an energy to living that is undeniable; even addicting.
Let’s let peace stay lost in the hustle. After all, it’s the way to be these days.
Or is it? Let’s think about it.
Why would a person want to live in chaos? Why would someone want to run around in a frenzy all the time? Sure we can blame our culture, but what is it that brings us to bend to the pressure? But, why are we choosing chaos over peace?
Two Reasons we choose chaos:
- One, because we believe the lie that self-worth rises with tasks accomplished.
Usually, when we gain reward and praise for completing tasks it becomes easy for us to equate self-worth with gettin’ ‘er done. Particularly, children are vulnerable to associating parental approval with a job well done. Later on, as adults these traits display themselves in the forms of supermoms, Martha Stewart homemakers, workaholics, sports maniacs and the like. You see them everywhere, flitting through life at a dizzying pace. They live stressed, tired, and most of all numb.
That’s right, numb. Why numb?
- Two, because at the root of all the chaos is the desire, even the need to numb all feelings.
In short, we don’t like who we are, if we have even taken the time to figure out who we are that is. We run from one task to the next because if we stop and find peace even for a millisecond our brains start to twirl. When a person has low self-worth, this is a most unpleasant experience. Yet, guarding against this pain comes at a price.
The price of chaos:
Failure to develop deep meaningful relationships.
To establish and maintain a meaningful relationship requires regular conversation. Not texting, not in the car on the way to piano lessons or whatever the next activity is, but the front porch swing on a Sunday afternoon kind of conversation. To have this type of conversation there must first be peace. For a moment, take yourself way back to when you were a kid. Now, how hard was it to tell your parents about some struggle or concern you were having? How much “time for opportunity” did it take for you to finally muster the courage to speak up? Is there enough time for your kid to muster this kind of courage in the average day?
What about your spouse? It is far easier to bask in the praise of acquaintances than to put effort into the daily grind of a more intimate relationship. Yet, all the fleeting accolades the chaotic life has to offer cannot compare to having your head on the shoulder of the one you’ve loved through thick and thin, watching the sun rise to a brand new day.
Failure to know self.
For the most part, we have a much easier time getting to know others than ourselves. In fact, many times we would rather take responsibility for others lives than our own. It takes effort and a true desire to get to know yourself, and it is only going to happen in times of peace. Get started, find some peaceful time and reflect on yourself, get to know you, learn to like you. Remember the principle of, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” When I look at many of us, I am frightened you will do it. In fact, this could be a large part of the problems in our world today.
Failure to connect with the creation and the creator.
We all feel the calming effects of nature. Those times when we manage to immerse ourselves in nature; no phones, no music, not even a conversation, are the most peaceful. In fact, recent studies have put some numbers and scientific data up to support this effect they now call, “The nature pill.”
Nature, with its regular rhythms and cycles, generates a peace we detach from with our indoor lives. Nightfall, rain, a fluffy falling snow, all lead us to find peace if we allow ourselves to experience them.
Failure to learn the skill of observation.
One reason learning science is critical is because it teaches the skill of observation. There is a wealth of information waiting if we will but step away from the mayhem, the chaos, to watch and listen: to observe. When you take time to observe you will start to notice the “little things” in life and appreciate them, rather than blowing by them in a whirlwind. For instance, the other morning I noticed three bright red leaves laying on the dewy green grass outside my bedroom window. You would think it impossible not to notice them with the stark contrast in colors. They are the first hints of coming cooler days. There they lay, another subtle reminder from nature of the marching on of time. A “little thing” I would have never noticed in the hustle of life before finding peace.
You will also be able to notice those subtle warning signs from those you love. The whispering cries for attention, for help, for someone to listen. Your ability to observe these behaviors in their infancy will enable you to prevent some large disasters in relationships. After all, we don’t lose our deepest relationships overnight. They slip away one missed second at a time, when we fail to engage.
Self-care becomes a low priority.
Inevitably, when life gets busy self-care is the first thing to go. Exercise, personal hygiene, healthy diet, sleep, and anything we enjoy doing alone go out the window. Isn’t is strange how our bodies are the one thing we have power over, and the one thing we cannot do without that are the first to be cast on the altar of, “I don’t have time for….?” Soon, time will catch your body and you won’t be busy anymore.
Six practical ways to find peace:
1. Realize peace might be boring at first.
Learn to accept boredom. Worry not, it won’t stay for long. Soon, you will be craving this feeling. Resist the temptation to “do something.”
2. Get outside.
The same God who made us made this amazing earth. We go together. We are meant to be together. While you’re out there, observe.
3. Have a conversation.
That is to say, a real conversation. Not talking about some superficial topic but something that matters. Instead, talk about the past and how it shaped you, the present and what you would like more of, the future and what you want to become. Go deeper still, talk about your relationships, your feelings, social justice, poverty, women’s issues, religion, the meaning of life in your opinion, anything to draw you closer to each other.
4. Learn to say, “No” on purpose.
Has it ever occurred to you, saying “Yes, yes, yes” to everything forces you to say “No” to those people and activities you find most important and enjoyable? Choose what you say “No” to. If you don’t, others will choose what you say “No” to for you. Hint: their choices will not be the same as yours.
5. Eliminate extracurricular activities one at a time, until you find peace.
Hint: if your vehicle feels like a second home, you have too many extracurricular activities.
6. Leave your phone in the house or car while you are enjoying time with loved ones.
You will not die without it for a couple of hours. In fact, you quite possibly could survive (or dare I say thrive) an entire day without it.
Finally, if you have trouble with these ideas, start simple.
Set a timer for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, however long you think you can stand it and intentionally do nothing. Nothing means nothing. Simply sit and observe. There is silence. Do you hear it? Avoid thinking of what to do, who’s doing what, how to fix it, what’s up when the timer goes off and so on.
For example, where we used to live my husband and I had a swing he bought for my birthday. We had made a beautiful cozy hideaway in the back corner of our yard which overlooked a small marsh. It teemed with wildlife; animals, insects, plants and flowers. All the things we love. When I sat on that swing, which was rare to begin with, all I could see was the work needing to be done. “Look at that weed. This grass is going to need mowing again in a few days. We never have fixed that brick in the wall. We should put in that stone landing soon, it would be gorgeous. Look, over there, the garden is wilting!” I couldn’t turn it off. The rats running in my head wouldn’t stop.
Regret has set in. I hate that I was never able to enjoy that time swinging. I never soaked it in, breathed in the air intentionally; smelled the smells or took note of the breeze in my hair, or the amazing man sitting beside me. I aim to bring that swing to my farm soon. It will be different this time around. Above all, I will find peace on that swing. Is chaos costing you and those you love too much? Find peace. Find priceless peace.