Life is a brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch
which I have got hold of for the moment,
and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible
before handing it on to future generations.
George Bernard Shaw
Monday 21st September is the International Day of Peace, established by a United Nations resolution in 1981.
To celebrate peace on one day in the year is wonderful. But what about peace in our world as a day to day reality? Is that possible? What would it mean, for you? Do you have all the peace you would like in your life? Or are you stressed, or in conflict about something or another - your job, your family, the state of the economy?
Years ago, I found an acronym for peace: People Enthusiastically Applying Creative Excellence. One of the characteristics I notice in a peaceful person is that they enjoy a healthy self-esteem. They stand tall. People who for whatever reason suffer from low self-esteem often have rounded shoulders, as if their back is curved over to protect their heart, their sensitivity, their tenderness. I have observed this condition in the very wealthy and those with lower incomes; in both men and women.
On this coming Peace Day, I invite you to stand tall in the value and worth that you are as a human being, even for a few moments during the day. Celebrate and esteem yourself. Here are some tips you might enjoy:
1. BREATHE DEEPLY ....
... and inspire yourself! Observe your breath as you take it in slowly, and slowly let it out. Do this a few times. As you breathe in, say the word Peace to yourself. As you breathe out, say Let go. Feel yourself becoming more peace-full.
2. STAND TALL
Physically, relax - allow your shoulders to drop. Imagine being pulled up by a string so that your head is well supported on your spine, and your spine lengthens.
Be aware of your natural balance, being firmly on the ground while reaching high up. Lift above any concerns or issues you might have. Smile, and feel joy growing within you.
3. APPRECIATE YOURSELF
I give you permission! This is not about being big-headed or an ego maniac. This is simply about acknowledging the best of your human qualities, attributes and strengths. You could not be here without them. Your beloved spirit is the sweet sustainer of your life.
4. AFFIRM YOUR GOODNESS
Find one affirmation to keep in mind the goodness that you are. Affirmations are positive I am ... statements, in the present tense that help you to cultivate healthy attitudes.
For example: I am a caring, heartfelt person doing the best I can in all situations.
For those who question the value of affirmations, they do not replace therapy. In certain circumstances they are very effective. You will need to experiment for yourself to find out if they work for you.
5. BE GIVING
On this Peace Day find some small way to give of yourself, something you might not usually do. It does not need to be huge. A note of appreciation to a dear friend. An unexpected bunch of flowers to a neighbour. A call to an elderly person who may be alone.
Notice how the giving increases you.
You might be asking; why bother? I invite you to consider that as you feel better about who you are (yes, warts and all) you will naturally radiate that goodness into your world. That goodness has a quality of peace with it. Your life will flow more easily for you. Your peace will have a ripple effect and touch to others.
Standing tall is about being available to more joy in your life, being seen, letting others benefit from your core goodness.
You could make every day a Peace Day. Or how about starting off by choosing just one regular day in the week to be your Peace Day? Even for 3 months. Notice how it makes a difference - for yourself and for others.
I am not a feminist. My role model growing up was a great aunt, a former suffragette who fought for the women's vote in the early twentieth century. She did not understand feminism in the 1960's. "Men would stand down to let me do what I felt was important", she would say to me.
However, I felt I had to include this TED video, including a beauty tip from Sophia Loren. Isabel Allende's passion and humour speaks to me as one standing tall, and living from her heart.
Isabel Allende tells stories of passion
I would love to hear how you nurture the peace in you. Do you know any ways we can contribute towards a more peaceful world? What do you think would make a difference?