Find your way to peace in the present

September 21, 2019

In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this little saying that he saw on a Burger King crown –  “No one’s happy all the time…and that’s OK.” 

Jack must have seen that crown in May of this year, when Mental Health Month was celebrated in the United States. We see mental health advice or tips in many places, mostly in cheery little messages that are trying to chase the blues away. It is more realistic to say, as Burger King did, that we all have ups and downs and that it is OK to be down a little, so long as you don’t allow yourself to spiral all the way down into depression. In fact, poking a little fun at being down can often help relieve some of the tension that comes with being down.

A down feeling can result from many causes – a failure or defeat at work, the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship and many other causes. In most cases the thing that you are down about was always out of your ability to control, but was all have a tendency to think that we could have done something different to effect the outcome and change history – we get down on ourselves.

That feeling of guilt stems from the thoughts that we could have done something different noticed something sooner or made a different choice or decision. Those thoughts can keep us awake at night going over and over the scenarios in our minds that will forever remained as options that we did not choose.

Sometimes our down mood is not about the past, but about the future – we play out option after option in our mind, fearing that the worst that we can imagine is going to happen. We spend restless nights in mental anguish fearing things that will never happen.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu had this bit of philosophical advice –

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.

Lao-Tzu  was a Chinese philosopher believed to have lived in the 6th Century BC and is credited with founding the philosophical system of Taoism, which stresses being in harmony with nature.

The best way that one can be at peace in the present is be at peace with God. Accept that God’s will has been done in the past and trust that it will be done in the future. Rather than lament what is past or fear what is in the future, marvel at what God is unfolding for you in the present.

Focus your attention on the wonderful people that he is causing to cross your path, so that you might experience them. Become more aware of, and thankful for, the wonders of nature that God has put all around you. Be thankful for the challenges that God is presenting to you to keep your life interesting. Make use of your time to learn and to increase your knowledge. Put 100% of your mental and physical effort into the moment at hand, rather than wasting either on things that are past or which may be in the future. 

Many find the Bible to be the best guide book for life and in the Bible we find these words –

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” –  John 14:27

Find your way to peace in the present.

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Break the grip of ego…Be at peace

February 7, 2018

The Jack’s Winning Words blog today featured this saying – “We can have peace if we let go of wanting to change the past and wanting to control the future.”  (Lester Levinson)

Out Pastor always says, “Go in peace, serve the Lord”, at the end of our church service. One of my favorite people, Pastor Doug McMunn of the Milford United Methodist Church often interjects, “Be at peace” into conversations. We also have been given a promise of be at peacea “peace that passes all understanding” when we join Jesus in Heaven.

So, what is this peace that is so important and how might we achieve it? I think today’s saying in Jack’s blog is the key – we must let go. The thing that we must let go of is our ego, the thing within us that drives us to try to understand and change the past and to control the future. Our inability to surrender to God’s will torments us and keeps us from achieving peace.

That constant need to understand and to control is our own ego inserting itself between us and God. I don’t think that there is anything particularly wrong with trying to understand and learn from something that happened in the past, but it is also necessary bored2to let it go, to put it in the past and get on with life. Instead, we beat up ourselves for what we perceive were our mistakes or we blame others for their influence on the outcome of things. There is no peace to be found in playing the “coulda, woulda, shoudla” game over and over in our minds.

Even less peaceful is worrying about the future; fretting about what might happen and how we might be able to control things. Our minds are wonderful things, but left untethered they are as likely to come up with a nightmare, as they are to conjure up a pleasant dream. There is nothing wrong with having some contingency plans in place; however, dwelling on how to control every possible thing that could go wrong is both wasteful and fruitless and certainly not peaceful.

How can one break the grip of our ego’s and be more at peace? Instead of surrendering control of your life to your ego, you can surrender it to God and trust the direction thatman praying He is taking you. I’ve shared the little prayer that I use many time, but I truly believe that it is the key to achieving peace. I just stop myself, usually in the midst of what my ego is telling me is a crisis that I must somehow try to control, and quietly say to God, “Not my will but thy will be done.” I usually experience an immediate sense of peace and the crisis fades into the background noise of life. Try it. Maybe it will help you achieve peace, too.

So, as you go through the rest of the week, put your trust in God and, as Pastor McMunn would say…Be at peace.


Trying to understand the greater happiness…

February 22, 2017

Jack Freed use this quote in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – recently – “Smile, things are going to work out.  You may not see it now, but you’re being directed to a much greater happiness.”  (ThisInspiresUs). Jack went on to write – Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled or afraid…I am with you.”  That’s the greater happiness.

hurry hurryIn today’s find it now, buy it now, do it now world, having the patience, the perseverance and faith to wait for that greater happiness goes against the grain. We have become an instant gratification society, while religion has remained a “hope for it, pray for it, wait for it” practice.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to having the faith that the promised “greater happiness” will come is dealing with the fact that this state of greater happiness will come after we have left this earth. For many people, the thought that they have to die to be born again into the state of greater happiness is not something that can easily accept or internalize. People want that state of greater happiness now, here, while they can enjoy it within the

mystery head

current physical world that they know. They cannot even conceive of the next life, the one promised to those who believe in and accept Jesus as their savior.

Another factor is the kind of hazy descriptions that we have of that next life – a house of many rooms, one of which will be ours or a peace that passes all understanding or looking upon the face of God. We have a hard time relating to that within the context of what we understand about this life. Some other religions have created extensive and elaborate descriptions of the afterlife, mostly using terms and examples from this life, so that the adherents can relate to it. It is so much easier to imagine Heaven as being just like this world only better.

Perhaps a big part of our challenge as Christians is to let go of any thoughts about this life and this world and just trust that the next life and the greater happiness that is promised to us there. We need to stop worrying about whether we’ll be reunited with our lost loved
ones in heaven or whether our past pets will be there with us. That’s all the stuff of this world. We should focus instead on the fact that we will be united with Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit and all of the Saints in a greater happiness that we can’t even imagine – fee of pain, free of cares, free of fears, free.

So, maybe believewe need to substitute much more believing, in place of all of the effort we make to try to understand the unimaginable. We can’t and don’t need to understand, we just need to believe and accept. Once we let go of the things of this life, we are ready for the things that come in the next. It is sort of like those cute ads for the web site LetGo.com; we have to let go of the things we don’t really need any more for this life and certainly not for the next. If I can let go of the baggage of this life and just believe; I’ll be better prepared to experience the promised greater happiness – maybe I’ll even experience a little of it here. What a wonderful thought that is to focus upon today.

Let go and have a great day!


Be at peace…

June 3, 2016

“A peaceful heart finds joy in all of life’s simple pleasures.”  (Franklin Cider Mill sign)

I tried to look up that quote, but it is unattributed anywhere that I found it as written. The closest that I found was by Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr –  “A peaceful heart is a joyful heart in all of life’s circumstances.” Pilkington is a pastor, author and radio host.

I’ve written here before that local pastor Doug McMunn, of the Milford United Methodist Church, is one of my favorite people and often uses the phrase “Be at peace” when discussing topics that might otherwise boil over with passion or emotion. He is also thebe at peace best listener that I’ve ever met.

The concept of being at peace with the world around you and with yourself is a tough one for many people to understand. How can one be at peace while living in a sometimes tumultuous world? I think the secret is to find peace within yourself and with your situation first. I’ve posted here a few times about being able to like/love yourself first, before you can even try to like/love others. Once you get to the point that you can honestly say to yourself, “I like me and I’m happy with where I am in my life, with what I have”; you will find yourself to be at peace and ready to share love or friendship with others.

Some are able to get to that state of self-acceptance and peace through meditation and some use the power of prayer. One way or another one must peel back the layers of concern and fear and anger and envy and self-destructive negativity that burden us in life and expose the very core of your being. You will not find there any of those bad things; just hope and love and trust and acceptance. If you can get back in touch with that innocent, peace be with youinner child-like being that was once so blissfully happy playing with its own toes you may come to realize that everything that you have stripped away to get back to that state is basically meaningless. You can be at peace with yourself. Once you get to that state of having a peaceful heart, the rest of today’s quote takes over and you can begin to really enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

So, for this weekend, if only for a moment – be at peace.


Don’t look in your wallet…look in your heart.

November 25, 2015

A popular credit card ad asks, “What’s in your wallet?” Perhaps if you are seeking peace and happiness you should forget about looking in your wallet and look inside your heart instead.

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” –  Dalai Lama XIV

“Do not look for happiness outside yourself. The awakened seek happiness inside.”  –  Peter Deunov

listening toi musicThose two quotes both point to the fact that the answers we seek that lead to a sense of well-being is inside of us. We must make peace with ourselves and then we will be able to find happiness.

I’ve posted here several times about the need to be happy and content with ourselves – to love ourselves so that we can love others. That involves accepting yourself as you are and not beating yourself up for things that are out of your control. And speaking of control, it also involves accepting that God is in control and not you. It springs out of that moment of relief when you finally let go and say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” It is letting go of the need to fix blame, accepting things as they come and welcoming the help of God to deal with them.

We are about to have another Thanksgiving Day, which unfortunately has become the day before Black Friday for many. While it is nice to have a national day of thanksgiving, one should give thanks every day for the things that God has given us. Today’s post in the blog Jack’s Winning Words has this little Thanksgiving Prayer – “For food, when many walk in hunger, for faith when many walk in fear, for friends in a world where many walk alone…we give you thanks, AMEN.” 

Perhaps, if you repeat that little prayer a few times you will start to drifthappiness inward to that place in your heart where peace and happiness reside. Linger there for a while and when you return find someone else to share your peace with and let them see your happiness. Maybe that will help them find out what’s in their heart, too.

Have a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving!


Three little words – Don’t give permission…

November 15, 2015

 “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”  –  Mahatma Gandhi

I was searching for quotes about peace and contentment when I came across this one from Gandhi. It resonated with other little pieces of self-help advice that I have written about in the past. I think we all seek peace and contentment in our lives, although most of us spend time looking in the wrong places. Then, just whining childas we may have achieved some measure of both in our lives, we give someone else permission to hurt us. We take offense and something that they’ve said or done or we react to some slight or slur (real or imagined) and fall back out of our state of contentment.  Gandhi’s advice rings true in those moments. We have invited this external influence into our sanctuary and allowed it to tarnish our contentment or destroy our peace. Don’t give permission.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was on the same page as Gandhi when he said – “Nothing external to you has any power over you.”  Emerson was referring to the fact that you control how you react to all things external to you. If someone says something hateful to you, or about you; how do you react? Do you let it hurt you or is your reaction to feel sorry that they are in such a state of mind that they feel the need to lash out at you. Do you shrink back in offense or offer your help and prayers to them? After all they haven’t really done anything to you, if you didn’t let them do it; but, they have exposed an ugly side of themselves for others to see. They can’t hurt you if you don’t  give permission.

Finally, being at peace means being comfortable with yourself, liking yourself and being confident in yourself. Sanaya Roman put it this way – “Having inner peace means committing to letting go of self-criticism and self-doubt.”  So, in addition to the things and people outside that might be trying to upset your contentment; one must believe in yourself.  I  wrote about that in a post –  https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/07/31/first-believe-in-yourself/ and I also advised against beating yourself up. What good does it do you to spend time on self-criticism and slef-doubt. Rather you shouls spend that time on self-improvement. Learn from any mistakes and move on, don’t wallow in self-recrimination and guilt. Even for your own thoughts, don’t give permission.

prayingSo, resolve today that you will withhold permission for the actions and words of others to hurt you. Focus instead on how you can offer them help that they may need to get to the place of peace and contentment that you enjoy. I’ve noted here in past posts that the local Methodist pastor Doug McMunn often uses a wonderful little retort when he encounters someone who needs help regaining control. He will just say, “be at peace.” Doug always seems to be at peace and to ready to help other, I suspect because he makes a daily effort to stay ther and when he encounters situations that might otherwise be inflammatory he doesn’t give permission for those things or comments to invade and destroy his inner peace.

Be at peace this coming week; and when things try to get to you; remember that they cannot hurt you if you don’t give permission.


Hope is stronger than fear…

November 24, 2014

I happened to watch The Hunger Games over the weekend or at least a part of it. I hadn’t seen the movie, since we seldom go to movies anymore. At the end there is a scene in which the character Bow and ArrowSnow, played by Donald Sutherland, President of the Capitol in country of Panem  says, “The only thing stronger than fear is hope.” Snow and the Capitol rule Panem through the use of fear; but the success of Katniss and Peeta give hope to the people in the outlying Districts and they begin to riot.

While it was an interesting action film; and it is not necessarily what I would pay to go see; it did have an overall moral message of good overcoming evil and of Hope for the future. I’ve written here before about Hope. In fact Hope was the only candle left burning after the other three of the four had been extinguished in my post about the Four Candles. I also wrote about it in posts titled Hope Leads to Great Memories and my post, Don’t Worry, Be Hopeful.

Of those previous posts, I think the Four Candles one applies most to today’s theme that Hope is stronger than fear. There are so many troubled places in the world today where the first two or three candles have been extinguished; where Peace and Love are hard pressed to be found or expressed. In many of those places Faith, especially faith other than the stated religion of the rulers (or the dictated lack of religion) is hard to keep lit. Even in those evil places and under the worst of circumstances Hope may still be found.

In most of those places fear is the main tool of the oppressive rulers. Fear of being found out and turtletortured or killed, if one has different religious beliefs or maybe is even of a different sect within the same religious belief. Fear is a powerful tool. Fear can cause people to cower and stay in line. Fear can turn people against each other. Fear causes people to look at their shoes when evil acts take place right in front of them. Fear allows a small minority to rule over the great majority. But fear is not a foundation upon which to build the future. Fear does not encourage and support.

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear. Hope allowed people in East Berlin to take the chance to run across mine fields and through barbed wire in order to get to freedom. Hope getting outprovides the courage and the persistence for families to make long journeys through rugged terrain in places like Iraq to get to a better place. It is Hope for a better life for their children that sustain people through the long hours of toil necessary to give their children a chance at a better life. It is Hope that allows the other three candles to be relit if only one waits long enough and has Hope enough. And it is Hope that steels the backbone and steadies the hand in the face of overwhelming odds; it certainly cannot be logic or knowledge.

President Snow in The Hunger Games was right to call out Hope as the biggest threat to his reign. People with Hope will overcome fear and great odds and will eventually prevail. Once they have tasted victory, they will move on relight to the candles of Faith, Love and, eventually, Peace. I have no idea what happens in the next two episodes of the Hunger Games trilogy, but I suspect that they will inevitably move towards victory for the oppressed people of Panem and the rekindling of the other three candles.

butterfly1In our world one can hold onto Hope for people stuck in places like China and North Korea, much of the Middle East and many places in Africa, plus the places in Eastern Europe still ruled by dictatorships based upon repression and fear. If one were to pray for help for those areas, it should not be that they somehow magically change overnight (that will not happen); rather pray that Hope is kept alive in the hearts and minds of the oppressed. Eventually it will be that Hope that will allow the people to find a way to overcome the dictators and throw off the shackles of fear and repression.

In our own day-to-day lives, it is our Hopes and dreams that keep us going, too. Hope represents our future and having no Hopes would mean having no future. Many of us might Hope for better futures for our children and work to make that happen. Then, we might hold out Hope for our grandchildren’s future, too. As we get older we might shift our focus to Hoping for a long and healthy life and for comfort and security in our waning years; but, we never lose Hope. Eventually, it is the Hope found in our religious beliefs that help us overcome the biggest fear of all – the fear of death.

What are your Hopes? How does Hope help you overcome your fears. How does Hope sustain you?

I Hope you have a great and Hopeful week ahead.