I challenge you to set the tone for reading this article by playing some quiet music and let it provide some peaceful, quiet time for you.
Not everything feels calm but we have it all built within us to help to make it bright. As the song goes “Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, All is bright…Throughout 2020, it's been hard to feel as though that's the case. On top of so many things that occur as a part of regular life, COVID19, presidential elections, separation from family and friends, growing numbers of sick individuals, uncertainty, fear, etc. have upended so many pieces of our lives. It is so very important to know that when we work intentionally toward peace, we can remain solidly rooted throughout life’s major storms. That said, it is an intentional process and involves work, just like exercising our physical bodies requires work and nutrition requires work.
As we step forward toward a New Year, it would be remiss of me not consider all the hardships that individuals have experienced personally, financially, spiritually, physically and the list goes on, that people have faced and been up against. We all have our perspectives that are our realities, based on what we have experienced within our lives. Considering that trials often lead victories and valleys to mountain tops, there are always lessons to learn and hardships to go through, or we would never grow. That being said, peace isn't always easy to find because it can be buried beneath a mountain of difficulties that life brings with it. A friend of mine shared the story of her own personal peace that arose out of being anxious about her children. Pamela shares about a time that her teenage children, her daughter, her friend, and her son, were traveling from England to Toronto. She shares, “When I arrived at the airport, I checked the arrivals monitor only to find out their flight was not listed. My next step was to ask at the airline desk only to be told that they did not have any information at that time regarding the flight. After waiting for several hours and also hearing a lot of speculation from other people waiting for news of the same flight, my mind was in turmoil. I made several requests at the airline desk to once again come away with no information. Eventually, we were told that there would not be any flights arriving for the rest of the night. So, I spent a very long night and early morning praying and waiting for news. Finally, their flight arrived late morning, and there were three tired, somewhat bedraggled, but smiling faces walking towards me. At that moment, an overwhelming feeling of peace came over me. I don’t think I had ever thought of peace in that way before.” Imagine waiting for your children and their friend at an airport, only to find out that there was no flight listed, nor any others arriving. Talk about the peace you’d feel once you laid eyes on the kids!
Believe it or not, science backs these claims about how peace and positivity impact our health and well-being. In an article shared by Ace Fitness, “The Power of Positivity”, Kelly Vargo discusses the importance of remaining positive and working to have faith to “believe it before you see it”. In our times, this is so very important, especially as we work to weather our storms that upend our peace. She talks about how we adapt an exercise program for our body, and we must also adapt a wellness “program” for our minds. She shares, “The advantages to adopting a positive mindset can be the difference in successfully adopting a new behavior, improving or maintaining your health, and enhancing your overall sense of happiness or well being.”
The article also discusses the research and data collected across studies that target positivity. It discusses, “In fact, a meta-analysis comprising 150 studies assessed the impact of well being on objective measures of health and concluded that overall well being was positively linked to short- and long-term health outcomes as well as pain-tolerance and immunity (Howell, 2007). Having positive psychological well being, specifically being optimistic, was associated with a decreased risk for cardiovascular-related events (Boehm and Kubzansky, 2012). Another study assessed the influence of optimism on cortisol levels during high-stress situations and concluded that optimism decreased the amount of cortisol released in these scenarios (Jobin, Wrosch and Scheier, 2014). And finally, positive psychology interventions have also been shown to decrease anxiety, depression and distress among adolescents (Shoshani and Steinmetz, 2014). Positivity, and I’ll add peace, has direct implications for our physical and mental well being. We have to stay hungry for positivity (and peaceful existences).
The New International Version of the Holy Bible also talks about walking into a “good land”, but realizing that there are generally hardships that come before our experiences in a “good land”. Peaceful minds are a “good land” and the book of Deuteronomy chapter 8 (NIV) tells us about this place...imagine how peaceful - “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.” Imagine the peace and stillness you might find in a place such as this!
Steve Jobs commencement speech from YouTube (Stanford) - tells the 2005 graduating class at Stanford University how his trials (i.e. being fired from Apple, the very company he started), opened the doors for the best moments of his life...meeting his wife, starting new business ventures, and beginning PIXAR that created the first animated movie, Toy Story. It was after that, Steve Jobs returned to Apple, after they bought his company Next and he had a very happy family...I’m certain that brought a degree of peace to his life...and who knew, that this man who changed a huge part of the world had his own trials he navigated as a child. He shared in his commencement speech at Stanford, “sometimes life's gonna hit you in the head with a brick...don’t lose faith,...find what you love”. Finding what you love and love to do can also bring an inordinate amount of peace.
Consider this…one of my most favorite hymns ever...it speaks so loudly about whatever happens, even when the storm is raging (whatever your storm is), you can find peace...picture your peace...what does it look like? The man that wrote this song had an incredible loss in his life and shared that he was able to still find peace in his soul...and, my dear friends, it will be well.
I’ll close with this...
When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul
It is well, With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
In case you want to listen to a different version: It Is Well by Bethel Music
No matter how you find it, I pray for your peace.
Have a peaceful and blessed holiday season and thank you for supporting our community.
Bible Gateway passage: Deuteronomy 8 - New International Version. (n.d.). Retrieved December 05, 2020, from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+8
ibethelmusic. “It Is Well - Kristene Dimarco | You Make Me Brave.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Apr. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNqo4Un2uZI.
It Is Well with My Soul. (2020, November 26). Retrieved December 05, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Is_Well_with_My_Soul
StanfordUniversity. (2008, March 07). Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. Retrieved December 05, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc
Vargo, A. (n.d.). The Power of Positivity. Retrieved December 05, 2020, from https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/5464/the-power-of-positivity/