In Part I we looked at why the pursuit of happiness is a futile exercise.
In Part II we looked at finding peace for longer lasting results.
In Part III we are going to look at some practical steps to help with this pursuit of peace.
There are a few reasons why we lack peace, and we’ll look at what I believe to be the top three, in no particular order.
The first is that we set the wrong expectations. Not necessarily the wrong goals, but the wrong expectations. Whether we set high and lofty goals, or more modest ones we still need to expect challenges. Perfection cannot be attained. Excellence? Yes. Perfection? No. Prepare for the journey, prepare for challenges, and expect disappointments. Happiness won’t get you through those tough times, but peace will, so be prepared.
The second is that we are using the wrong measuring sticks. We see the things our friends post on social media and we think “They have it all together, why am I such a mess?” You’re not. Well, you may be, but the reality is that your friend probably is as well. It’s a facade. Allowing social media to be your measurement of success bring depression. Measure yourself against what you can achieve, against your own goals, not what you perceive others to be achieving. When I coached youth soccer we focused on our performance, not comparing ourselves to other teams. We worked to be the best version of ourselves we could be. Of course, we still wanted to win, but development and performance are king*. Focus on what you can do better, not the standard you think your friends have attained.
Finally, when your relationship to the world is based on what you can take rather than what you can give, you will never be satisfied. If you hold something and squeeze tight, your muscles tense. The tighter you hold on the something, the greater the tension. The lighter you hold on to something, the less stress. The more you give, the less you have to hold on to. This applies to more than money or things, this is a state of being. The more you want, the less satisfied you are. Try it. Hold a pebble tightly for 30 seconds. The hold it in your hand for 30 seconds, look at the shapes and colours as you do so. Which is more peaceful, holding it tight or appreciating nature’s patterns?
Here are the three takeaways for today:
1 – Set goals. Set big goals. Expect trouble, failure, and set-backs on the path to success. Being ready for set-backs won’t steal your peace because you have a bigger focus.
2 – Don’t compare yourself to others, especially on social media. If you want a big detailed study on this, one is referenced at the bottom. Or you can just trust me on this – set your own goals, grow, develop, change, improve, and set goals to be a better you.
3 – The bad news is that there is so little in this world that we have control over. The good news is that there is so little in this world that we have control over. Understanding this, recognising that all we have is a blessing, and enjoying what we have is the key to satisfaction. Pursue gratitude, thankfulness, joy and peace.
Happiness is temporary. Very temporary. Peace may not be permanent, but it can be attained, has greater value, and will last through difficult times. Slow down. Meditate. Pray. Read. Create. Let go a little.
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Feinstein, B. A., Hershenberg, R., Bhatia, V., Latack, J. A., Meuwly, N., & Davila, J. (2013). Negative social comparison on Facebook and depressive symptoms: Rumination as a mechanism. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2(3), 161-170. doi:10.1037/a0033111
* – Some articles I have written on this subject: