Peaceful Everyday Actions

You may not have noticed, but the time I’ve spent in this space has reduced over the last year. Several factors contributed to this, but the most dominant was the belief that my energy needed to be spent understanding the state of current affairs in the U.S.

For much of 2017, I took a deep dive on various topics of the day, and used bike rides as a way to unwind from the dissonance. I thought it frivolous to spend time writing reflections on bike rides and yoga lessons when there was far more significant s&*% happening in the world.

It has been constructive to become a more knowledgeable citizen, but near the end of last year, I reached a point where the larger-than-me issues and the uncertainty and conflict associated with them were managing to erode daily enjoyment of life.

This year I’ve been embracing the belief that peaceful everyday actions we take as individuals can improve the world, and hopefully counter some of the toxic conflict. In that vein, I stopped reading the headlines as soon as I wake up, although I still read them.

I started keeping a journal. I’m trying to be a better listener, understand other perspectives better, and not talk so much (a real challenge for me!).

I’m riding bikes because I like riding bikes and love spending time with my best friend and tandem partner. I keep on keeping on with yoga because it clears my head, stretches me out, and encourages to be kind to myself and others.

I run because it is the one activity where I truly immerse myself in the world. These are the simple actions that embody peace and joy for me most days.

Surprisingly, it took deliberate action to focus on peaceful everyday activities when the headlines and other uncertainties have been contantly calling my name, but now that I have some momentum behind it, I refuse to stop.

Peaceful everyday activities are perhaps not the most direct ways to improve society, but I think they help. Further, they fortify me by smoothing out the dissonance and the clanging of arguing voices over difficult issues.

Unlike complex policy issues, peaceful everyday actions are also within my control, and I’m giving myself permission to write about them again.

Let me know if you have suggestions for other peaceful acts I can add to my every day. I’m all ears.

15 thoughts on “Peaceful Everyday Actions

  1. I loved to hear this. I, too, have retreated from the darkness of our current political atmosphere. I have turned off our tv. I set my google headlines to only critical, important news headlines that I scan and read what I wish. It’s important to know what’s going on, but we must keep from letting it steal our joy. I spend my non-biking time reading, writing and making art. The most important effort we should make each day is to be kind…spread joy and kindness to all creatures. Give when you can, never expecting a gift in return other than a “thank you.” Joy, kindness, altruism…it makes a better world.

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  2. Peaceful engagement with society will always improve society. Watching things unfold from a different country, I can at least offer you assurance that more people are doing negative things from an ignorant, or naïve perspective. They are being egged on by others with a very narrow, often misleading perspective. They (not the leaders, but every day people) need to be shown things, not argued at, yelled at, and criticized (the leaders yes).
    This term will, eventually, highlight some very wrong ideas and hopefully everyone will come out the better for it in the end. In the middle could suck a little or a lot, but hopefully the end will be better.
    As for the news….I stopped watching and reading so much because it didn’t make me happier.
    As for things you can do. Write about people who are doing positive things, regardless of their politics. Write about the great actions of every day people. If you don’t want to write about them, you can talk about them.

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    1. Bravo for turning away from morning headlines! Since having children, it’s the only way I’ve been able to cope with tragic world events (starting with World Trade Towers collapsing) not to mention current US politics. And perhaps I’ve gone to the opposite end, avoiding most headlines until recently., I’ve restricted currents reading to only once a day. My coping comes from being outdoors getting some exercise and spending portions of every week with family. For me it’s where I can make the most impact. I’m glad that you’ve finding some balance in your life.

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      1. Remember what Mr. Rogers learned from his mother. I am paraphrasing, but when you see bad things happening, look for the helpers. The people who step up and try to fix it or help the wounded. That helps turn the bad into something that can make you feel at least a little hope.

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  3. i try to do something nice, unexpected, for someone every day. give a compliment, share some candy, wear crazy socks, try to hook a friend up with a freelance job, straighten the bookcase at temple, told a friend i was reading his book, recommend a brand of salad dressing to a stranger. small things that generally take a minute or two [the freelance job is more complex, but its important].
    small things.
    give someone else something to smile about.

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  4. I totally understand your news remark. A lyric from one of my favorite Neil Finn songs goes: “In the paper today, tales of war and of waste, but she turns right over to the TV page.” We all need a “TV page”.

    My wife met me during my running years and quickly learned that I was Nice Mellow Boyfriend when I was running and Rage Machine Jerk when I wasn’t. I NEED the rhythm, the breathing, the mental space that running and, now, bicycling gives me.

    As for other things you can do on a daily basis, the only thing I can think of that is readily available is meditation (aside from the meditation at the end of yoga class, of course). I started a stand alone practice three years ago when a build up of stress turned into depression. I do it alone but it can be done in a group setting as well. It helps a lot to do it on a regular basis. I started with five minutes a day. It is simple but surprisingly hard. Give it a shot.

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  5. Your writing is not frivolous. You share your quest for physical and mental health and help others work on their own. We don’t need to disengage from current affairs, but we do need to prioritize and to operate effectively, from strength.

    Other peaceful acts? For me, cooking is high on the list. I know not everyone loves it, and not everyone can make time for it. It might not fit in your life. But for me, cooking is a chance to be mindful and creative, sometimes a little playful, while making something to share with a person or people I care about. And it seems like a small miracle every time a dish turns out well.

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  6. This is a wonderful post–a reminder that your writing, like your cycling, isn’t frivolous, but a form of everyday peaceful acts. Given the daily outrages that we face, it may be that the best we can do, actively, positively, is to tend our gardens and share the produce: “it faut cultiver notre jardin.”

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  7. A perfect reflection. I appreciate that you are seeking peaceful actions and practicing self care not to withdraw from the s&*t in the world, but for the sake of engaging it as a whole and healthy person. I’m working on that too. Not quite there, but working on it.

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  8. Thanks for writing this Mary. I think many of us have struggled this past year with understanding the events around us. And it can be danged hard to be positive at times. Sounds like you have come around to your true path though, and I applaud you and look forward to anything you write or share.

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