photo by Landon Nordeman for

photo by Landon Nordeman for

Lots of people make New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t recommend them. Usually, they are impossible to keep and make us feel worse about ourselves when we “break” them.

Instead, why not ask yourself: What is it I really want in the coming year?

For many of us, the answer is: peace.

Oh sure, we’d like more money and a better body and a great partner and the most fulfilling job possible, but, if you dig deeper, the reason we’d like most of this stuff is because we think that, if we had it, we’d feel a really, wonderful, deep sense of peace.

And we could relax into that peace and maybe, for the first time in our lives, not be so stressed and anxious and worried.

Sound good?

Peace is one of those words that a lot of us throw around without really knowing what it means. “Peace on earth” and all that stuff is big at this time of year, but what is peace?

My friend Phil told me recently that he was meditating on peace (he’s a deep thinker kind of person) and that he broke “peace” down into five key components:

P: patience – being willing to wait for something that I want right now. Having faith that things will work out for me, so I can relax. I don’t need to push myself (or others) or worry that things are going to be a mess. I can just put one foot in front of the other and walk on my path, knowing that even if the current part of the path is rough, I can trust that if keep going, I will get through the tough stuff if I am willing to be patient.

E: empathy – understanding that it’s not all about me, it’s about “us” and we’re all a part of that. I can ask for what I want, knowing that I am an integral part of a world of many, many people, and that we all want the same things: to feel safe, loved and secure. I can focus more on how we – as human beings – are all alike, rather than how different (e.g. better or worse) I am, compared to you. I can open my heart to understand what you’re going through and, even if I don’t agree with you, I can respect you and honor your opinions and beliefs.

A: acceptance – for me, this is a tough one, because I like to think that if I try hard enough, I can get what I want. It’s easy to accept things when life is flowing smoothly. I don’t know about you, but that smoothness always eventually gives way to some challenges. How do I accept things that I don’t like or want? Can I accept that painful things can ultimately be good for me, or will I fight them tooth and nail, resisting things that aren’t comfortable?

C: calm – easy, serene, contented. “Calm” is one of my favorite words. It’s the opposite of worry, anxiety and panic. Not only does a calm state allow our mind to relax, thoughts to slow down and obsessive thoughts to disappear, but our body calms down too: our heart rate slows and all our organs work better. When we’re in a calm state, we make better decisions, take good care of ourselves and treat others respectfully. What’s not to like about “calm”?

E: enlightenment – I think this is one of the most misunderstood words around. I think it means to be full of “light” and clarity, without heavy, depressing thoughts and emotions. It means realizing that I am on a very long path that is eternal (yes, I don’t think that this is the only life we will ever live) and that with each life we have another opportunity to “wake up” and know the truth. And the truth shall set us free…

I hope that by breaking down that old, familiar word “peace” into P.E.A.C.E., it has given you another way to look at it.

In my experience, once we’ve got peace, we’re got everything. Peace is the bottom line.

I wish you a new year full of peace, in every area of your life.