The Chaotic Calm: Finding Peace in Everyday Life

As a preface I am the queen of stress. I have spent days (probably weeks if I’m honest with myself) raging over a lost necklace, or sobbing over a time-consuming boy. But when I moved out and found myself alone, I realized to be happy I must discover how to stay calm in the chaos. In my search I learned of three practices, repeated by numerous spiritual and thought leaders and observed by Oprah (OPRAH PEOPLE), that have altered the way I move within the world. These are not quick fixes, but lifestyle changes, refocus and reorganization, but as someone who has lived on both sides, the sun shines brighter over here. 

Intention, the driving force behind each action, why people do what they do. How often do we actually think about our intentions? When drudging through an essay or eating junk food or kissing someone new, do we stop and think why? We stumble through our actions with one eye shut, doing things simply because we’re inclined to, with no consciousness of motivation. Intention behind action creates meaning and highlights passion. There’s a difference between savoring a creamy cannoli, and binging a box of goldfish. The difference? Intention. Create intentions for your choices, your days, your life. When you wake up ask yourself what is my intent today? Decide upon it. Then live it. Know your intentions, always. And if necessary change them. Live your intentions. You’ll be amazed by your fulfillment.

Presence: how we exist from moment to moment. It is our state of being in the millions of instances we experience. Existing fully present is the best combatant to stress. So much of our anxiety, and worry is hindered on the unknown future or the unchangeable past. Living moment-to-moment creates a state of being concerned only with the present task. It strengthens focus, and it amplifies joy. When you allow yourself to exist only in that moment, the walk to class is no longer plagued by concerns over midterms, it becomes an experience as you notice the sound of birds chirping and look up at the tree branch canopied sky. Joy is welcomed when we rid ourselves of fears. Presence creates attentiveness to the world surrounding us, and the harder we look the more beauty will be found.

Gratitude: the practice of appreciating the lives we live. Thankfulness is radical. The most dreaded and frustrating task becomes a blessing through the simple act of saying thank you. When gratitude is practiced, finding things to be thankful for becomes habitual, and life becomes more meaningful and rich. The simplest of things, a flower growing along your walk, or children running hand and hand, transforms into a moment of wonder and joy which you find yourself mumbling thank you for. The verbal act of thanking enhances our gratitude and happiness, even if it’s a begrudging thank you, by saying it we acknowledge that there is good or growth (or both) in this present experience. When we are grateful for our existence and all the glories that exist within it, simple moments become beautiful and imbue our souls with joy. Gratitude changes the world we live in, by changing our perceptions of it.

Life is turbulent and messy. It stains and bruises and bleeds. Instability is the nature of life, if you long for stability, stand still. The chaos will surround you, but you will be calm: centered on your intentions, existing in your moment, and forever thanking the storm.

 

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