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Finding Peace and Creating Joy in a World of Uncertainty

How can we find peace when it feels like chaos surrounds us?

When the pressures, not the joys, that are associated with the winter holiday season are pressing in on you from all sides, how do you find space to find your center and let the expectations of others roll off your back, if just for a moment? When every day brings another news story that seems more lurid or incendiary than the one before, yet no longer as shocking as they would have been just a year or two before, how do you get back to a place of relative innocence or hope?

Many people find peace through faith, rituals, or meditation or engagement in mental practices that keep them grounded in the present, in what matters, and in what is essential. Training yourself to focus only on the things that truly matter is an investment that will pay off in both tangible and intangible ways for a lifetime.

What does it take to Change Your Routine or Your Perspective?

Unfortunately, unless we make a conscious effort and actively enact celebrations, rituals, and events differently than our less-than-perfect role models, we are likely to recapitulate every mistake we ever lived suffered through. It’s the nature of things; children learn what they live, for better or worse.

It’s so much easier in life to continue doing things the way we always have. Old habits are hard to break and the path of least resistance is the almost always the one that just feels “right.” Growing up, you might just assume that all families have large family holidays with extended family gathered around the table with kids having to sit at the “children’s table” until an adult moved away or passed away. Then you meet someone whose holiday table was typically the same TV tray that was used the other 364 days each year, and “extended family” was more likely to be the cast of “Friends” or “The Simpsons,” than any cousins or grandparents.

Choosing to Celebrate What Matters Most to You

So you know that you want to “make merry” during the winter holidays? It’s your choice to decide exactly what day you want to celebrate and exactly what merrymaking would look like for you. If football after the turkey dinner isn’t your thing, movie theaters and hiking trails are usually open on the major holidays. If you can’t sit in the house a minute longer listening to the same old stories or watch family members tipple until they are staggering through the snow, excuse yourself from the melee and nurture a new tradition or ritual that speaks to your own sense of celebration or joy.

Regardless of the faith tradition you do or do not follow, there are many different ways to give back to others at this time of year. Whether it’s food drives, charity funds, homeless shelter food line staffing, babysitting for friends who need to go holiday shopping without the little ones in tow, you name it. There’s a way to give to others and celebrate the ending of one year, the reversal of the shortening of the days, and the wiping clean of the slate of the year past.

Solstice and New Beginnings

Some families fight over politics. Some families fight over religion. Some families fight just because that is all they know to do. However, one thing that is immutable is nature’s path through time. As we reach the third week of December, we all will be affected by the winter solstice. From late November until the solstice, we feel the days grow short as darkness arrives earlier and earlier each day. We can’t argue about when the solstice arrives or the spinning of the earth or the angle of the sun. The world is on its course and no amount of arguing can lengthen the days before nature allows it. Take heart in the reliability and steadiness of the natural world. Celebrate the knowledge that the natural world is constant: storms may brew, temperatures may rise and fall, but the earth keeps spinning on its axis, immutably and predictably, no matter what havoc its inhabitants choose to wreak!

Suggestions for Incorporating New Rituals into your Celebrations

Ancient Vedantic teachings outline 10 traits to cultivate to bring joy, peace, and perfection into your perspective. I encourage you to find new ways to enable them to take root in your heart:

  1. Fearlessness
  2. Truthfulness
  3. Generosity
  4. Forgiveness
  5. Non-attachment
  6. Patience
  7. Compassion
  8. Peacefulness
  9. Joy
  10. Surrender

Reflect on the list and determine which traits you might need to cultivate to free yourself from past patterns that only serve to keep you down at a time when making spirits bright and hearts light is so widely encouraged. Celebrating the gifts you have been given in life (kindness, openness, hope, and so on) is the best way to bring joy to others. Finding new reasons to rejoice is a much better investment of your energy than finding old hurts to revisit. You can blame your past for the mistakes you make today, but you can also credit your past for making you the amazing adult you have chosen to become.

It’s the holiday season, so find a reason to celebrate all the wonderful things you have manifested in your life. If you’re short on the material things or still working on relationships, look deep inside and find the gold that lies within and commit yourself to the discovery of new ways to share the wealth that is stored within. By celebrating all that you bring to the world, the world is in a much better position to begin celebrating with you!

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