11 Ideas for Embracing Serenity in Chaotic Times

Focusing on the positive and taking action can alleviate stress and negativity.

Posted Feb 17, 2020

By Rita Watson
Peaceful roses
Source: By Rita Watson

In a politically divided nation, serenity is a gift that can be life-enhancing as well as calming during turbulent times. Seeking serenity is a way to both detach from turmoil and engage in positive thoughts and activities. Serenity might be defined as the simple experience of calmness, peacefulness, or tranquility. For many, it is a feeling that comes from a place deep within. The dictionary meanings are broad. From a quality known as regal to a demeanor called dignity, as well as to the visual expanse of light, ocean, and sky, to a state free of chaos. However, in today’s world of conflict, finding serenity can be a challenge.  

According to Dale R. Floody, Ph.D., retired professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin: "Serenity can be thought of as a personal and unique way of living which includes behavioral and cognitive components that are associated with feeling calm, peaceful, and untroubled. . . . Somewhat surprisingly, there is very little consideration of serenity in all of psychology. Historically, psychology has focused on negative behaviors (especially aggression, psychopathology, and mental retardation), but recently there has been an explosion of interest in a more positive approach." (Serenity and Inner Peace, 2014.)

The approach to which Floody refers is the positive psychology movement founded in 2000. Martin Seligman, Ph.D., former president of the American Psychological Association, is credited with being the father of the movement. The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania  points out that the movement, “is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.”

A sense of serenity folds into the search for meaningful and fulfilling lives. Here are eleven thoughts on ways to achieve serenity. 

  1. Start a gratitude journal: Gratitude is a healthy and easy way to achieve a certain peace of mind.  Finding a quiet, clutter-free place and writing in a gratitude journal is one way to experience the benefit of serenity.*
  2. Create reservoirs of calm and confidence: Make a daily list of uplifting moments and include decisions you have made and their positive outcomes. For the decisions you made that turned out well, be grateful. For decisions that did not turn out as well as you had hoped, forgive yourself first, then others, and move on.
  3. Spend time each day meditating: This is a discipline that is essentially listening to ourselves, getting into the moment, and relaxing. It helps with focus.
  4. Become aware of serendipity: Serendipity is a chance occurrence that many believe is mere coincidence. Consider the new word phenomenon. You hear a new word or read a word whose definition is unfamiliar to you. What happens next? The word pops up again and again.  Serendipity is just that simple.
  5. Appreciate heightened intuition: When you spend time “centering” you will discover a sense of “knowing, just knowing.” Trust these intuitive leanings. 
  6. Embrace solitude: In solitude, we come to our sacred and scary place. There is one potential problem. The dark side of us inevitably emerges the closer we get to serenity.  Stay focused and find a word or image that brings you back to gratitude. Then enjoy the quiet moments.
  7. Practice creative visualization: Create scenarios that you wish to see happen. Even football players use this technique, but they call it “planning strategies.” If you want a new job, research where you might best fulfill your dream. Then see yourself in the situation smiling and thriving.
  8. Turn off negativity: For a good night's sleep, turn off the news and instead read a good book or watch a pleasant movie.  The nightly news floods our minds with disturbing thoughts and images that are serenity stealers.
  9. Avoid toxic personalities: Be aware that toxic personalities can rob you of peace and undermine an attitude of gratitude. Protect Yourself From Toxic Personalities.
  10. Train your brain for gratitude:  According to Dr. Loretta Graziano Bruening, you can wire your brain to see the good in the world. Oftentimes, goodness gets ignored because it has no place to flow until you build a new pathway. You can do this by focusing on the good three minutes a day or three times a day at one-minute intervals. But here's the catch, you need to keep this up for 45 days. Train Your Brain for Gratitude

As we seek serenity and take a journey inward to meditation, we open ourselves to a new place where the inner workings of our hearts come in touch with outer reality.  What is important to remember is that staying centered and focusing on our goal will bring us a certain peace of mind.

Copyright 2020 Rita Watson

References

Floody, D. R. (2014). Serenity and inner peace: Positive perspectives. In G. K. Sims, L. L. Nelson, & M. R. Puopolo (Eds.), Peace psychology book series: Vol. 20. Personal peacefulness: Psychological perspectives (p. 107–133). Springer Science + Business Media. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-9366-2_5  (https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-42216-005)

Watson, R.E., (2000). A Serenity Journal. Paulist Press. Mahwah, N.J. (About A Serenity Journal,  Frederick Altice, M.D., Yale School of Medicine, wrote: “Serenity and gratitude may well be the added benefit to medicine and science.")