The Happiness Connection  

Find peace amongst the chaos around us

Finding inner peace

September 21 is the U.N. International Day of Peace.

Peace may feel like a foreign concept at the moment, with Covid-19 and a national election campaign raging. You may feel that impacting world harmony is a tough ask just now. That may be true.

That doesn’t mean you can’t initiate a peace movement. But, rather than focusing on global change, perhaps the starting point should be closer to home.

This is a great time for each and everyone of us to work towards inner peace. This is attainable, will make you happier and can impact the globe.

“When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our community is in a state of peace, it can share that peace with neighbouring communities.”

The Dalai Lama

Like happiness, tranquility is contagious. Your calm can create a sense of serenity in others.

There are other benefits that come from achieving inner peace.

• A calm mind that isn’t spinning like a top, leads to a better quality of sleep.

• You’ll find it easier to focus on things that are important to you.

• Your sense of wellbeing will improve.

• You’re likely to be more patient and tolerant of yourself and others.

How do you free your mind from worry and negative thoughts and replace them with quiet serenity?

This isn’t an inclusive list, but here are a few ways to get started.

Accept what is

Know what you can change and what you can’t. For example, there’s no use feeling glum about the weather. You can’t do anything about it, so you might as well accept it for what it is. In fact, you can take it one step further and try to enjoy it. This is possible even then the rain is ruining your plans for a day on the lake.

Former Castanet columnist editor, Ross Freake, introduced me to the phrase, “Enjoy what is.” I love its sentiment.

If it’s raining, enjoy the coziness of your home, or spend time listening to the pitter patter on your roof. Appreciate the soothing sounds the rain makes. That’s a much better way to spend your time than lamenting what could have been.

Make decisions and accept their outcomes

This is something I’ve been working on for a year or two now. It isn’t easy.

When you make a choice, you usually have an idea of how you expect things to turn out. How do you feel when the result is something totally different? Disappointed? Devastated?

To achieve inner peace with your decisions, accept the outcome. Recognize that you can’t control all the variables. An unwelcome result doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice.

When you struggle with unexpected outcomes, go back to accepting and enjoying what is.

Release judgement

If you’re blaming others or your circumstances for the way things are in your life, you have judgements to release.Take in information, and decide what’s best for you, but don’t look for excuses if things don’t work out the way you expected them to.

Avoid criticizing people who have a different viewpoint from you. Everyone’s on their own journey through life. Respect the routes of others. They aren’t you and have their own lessons to learn.

Still your mind

Meditation is a great way to achieve this. If this seems too daunting, simply find time to close your eyes and concentrate on your breath.

If you keep forgetting to do this, set the alarm on your phone, or choose specific times in your day to stop and breathe. Block five minutes into your calendar if that’s what it takes.

Having regular social media detox weekends and making a more conscious effort to spend time in nature, are also great ways to quiet your mind.

Look through a lens of gratitude

You create your reality, by deciding what lens to view it through.

If you’re an optimist, you’re likely to love your life and believe you’re lucky. As a pessimist, you may find yourself focusing on disappointments and perceived failures.

Find reasons to be grateful for every person in your life and every experience you have. Both lessons and blessings are equally valid reasons to be grateful.

Choose which thoughts to keep

Even the happiest and most peacefully minded people have negative thoughts fly into their minds. But just because they appear, that doesn’t mean you have to focus on them.

You have the ability to choose which thoughts, perspectives, and attitudes to adopt as your own.

When you decide to go to Dubai for a long weekend, and it rains the entire time, you get to choose whether to hang onto “this sucks” or look for some alternative fun and adventure. (True story.) Wanting inner peace is also a choice. The fierier and more passionate your personality, the more challenging you may find this quest. Don’t let that stop you.

I recommend you start slowly. Choose one peace-attracting skill and turn it into a habit. One small change can turn into a life altering transformation.

When you feel confident in habit one, add a habit two.

September 21st is the perfect day to begin or continue a quest for inner peace.

“When things change inside you, things change around you.”



It's good to be more than a little curious

Curiosity matters

Last night, I was reading a piece in the Globe and Mail, about Laylah Fernandez. She’s the nineteen-year-old Canadian who advanced to the U.S. Open tennis final. (By the time this is published, she will either be a grand slam champion, or runner-up.)

The paper quoted her dad and coach as saying, “The art of being a great coach is understanding that you know nothing. And when you know nothing, all you do is get hungry to find out.”

This caught my attention and started me thinking about curiosity.

What comes to mind when you think about this word? I’m willing to bet that the saying “Curiosity killed the cat” entered the heads of many of you. That’s where my mind went.

Although that was the saying I thought of first, it’s about the only one I could find that frowns upon curiosity. There are many quotes that encourage us to question.

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Curiosity is the engine of achievement.

Ken Robinson

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

Albert Einstein

Dr. Jean Piaget defined curiosity as an urge to explain the unexpected. It’s one of the precepts for wellbeing that I share in my book Modelling Happiness.

Humans are natural learners. If you allow your inquisitive nature to roam freely, you’ll boost your sense of happiness.

It has other benefits as well. Curiosity encourages creativity and makes it easier to adapt to new situations. It fosters the discovery of novel solutions. It reduces conflict and encourages communication.

Research also shows that curious people are less likely to fall into a confirmation bias. This is the tendency to notice information that supports your already held opinions and overlooks things that don’t. If you find yourself becoming judgmental as you go on your quest for knowledge, you may be falling prey to this bias.

I wonder if our pandemic experience would change if we assumed we knew nothing and instead decided to get curious. Of course, that would involve letting go of our currently held beliefs, assumptions, and judgements.

It’s not about whether other people agree with you. It’s about gaining a clearer understanding of multiple perspectives, and maybe uncovering something totally new in the process.

This is the strangest time I’ve ever lived through. When there was talk about a second wave of Covid-19 last fall, I didn’t for one second consider a year later we’d be experiencing a fourth wave. Now I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about an eighth one.

Rather than getting caught up in politics and negativity, try fostering an open mind and get curious about yourself, your life, and your world. In the words of Debasish Mridha, “Curiosity is the origin of knowledge. Experience is the origin of wisdom.”

Let’s replace fear of the unknown with curiosity. It’s a perfect time in history to become both wiser and better informed.

When it comes to vaccines, make your choice but respect others

Tough choices

I don’t know about you, but my heart is heavy.

The pandemic has been bad enough in its own right, but the division that’s been instigated by the vaccination debate is even more exhausting. It feels like we’re in a no-win situation.

I had an appointment on Wednesday that meant I was in the vicinity of the hospital. I knew something was happening when I couldn’t find anywhere to park and could hear car horns and cheers.

It wasn’t until I asked the receptionist what was happening, that I discovered there was a protest.

I’ve been trying to live in my own bubble by limiting my news intake and social media engagement.

Of course, I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to see for myself what was happening. So, I drove past the hospital on my way home

I’ll be honest. I was a little confused by some of the signs I saw.

There were the expected anti-vaccine and anti-vaccine passport ones, as well as some about personal freedom. I noticed one or two people holding signs that were protesting the protesters.

The signs that caused me to look twice were the ones saying we should support the nurses and other health care workers.

I’m totally in favour of doing that. But in my mind, that would involve not protesting outside their place of business. Covid-19 is putting an incredible strain on nurses. In my head, getting vaccinated is an action of support for them.

I wasn’t thinking about the healthcare workers who are being asked to choose between their jobs and their principles. Those were the individuals these signs were supporting. It was a freedom of choice statement.

I suspect the main reason I find the vaccination situation so distressing, is because there doesn’t seem to be a win-win solution available.

If you flip everything and say the public can do whatever they want, there will be protests about the government not protecting their people.

So, what can we do?

We can make the choice that’s best for us, without outside influences making us feel that one decision is better than the other.

We can stop arguing about why we are right and other people are wrong. It’s very unlikely that anyone is going to change their mind, based on a debate with another person. As I’ve written about in the past, believing you’re right, is part of your survival mechanism.

We can remember that decisions always come with consequences. As the old saying states, “You pays your money and you takes your choice.”

I choose to view the world as a benevolent place. One of my most fundamental beliefs is that life is happening for me, not to me. As a result, I decided to trust the experts and the vaccine.

If it turns out that I’ve poisoned my body, I’ll have to live with that in the future. For now, this feels like the best option for me and the community I live in.

If you decide not to take that chance, or can’t stand to have your perceived freedoms curtailed, don’t get vaccinated. But accept that for now, this option may affect how you live.

We’re all being gifted with the opportunity to really go within ourselves to make a choice.

What do you believe? Do you believe it enough to stop eating in a restaurant, or to look for a new line of work? Do you trust your choice enough to risk your future health?

In a perfect world, you want to make a choice that doesn’t restrict you, but life is often imperfect. You may feel none of this is fair, but that’s nothing new either.

We’re each responsible for our own decisions and for taking responsibility for what happens as a result.

If you’re on the fence, listen to both sides and then take time to listen to your heart. Choose what’s best for you, not what you think is right, based on what your friends and family say.

Once you commit, try to be courteous towards people who don’t agree with you. Choosing to be respectful and compassionate, may be the most life-changing decision any of us will make as we navigate these tumultuous times.

Resisting change is futile

Technically, September isn’t the start of a new year, but in my head, it is. I guess with being either a student, a teacher, or parent of school-aged children for so long, this makes sense.

For many years, August brought with it, dreams about teaching. They were usually nightmares that involved being trapped in the school with my students, or them refusing to listen to me.

I no longer face the prospect of another year of school, but even so, I’m always sad to sense the end of the season. I love the sunshine, long days of sunlight, and warm weather of summer.

But we aren’t in a usual sort of year. Along with all the other strange things that are going on, I found myself ready to move into fall several weeks ago. That’s never happened before.

I love the lazy days of summer. This year they were a bit too hazy and definitely too crazy to really enjoy.

I heard Chris Walker of CBC radio sum it up by saying we spent the first half of the summer in an oven, and the second in a chimney.

That’s a pretty accurate summation.

However, being ready for something to end doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen more quickly. If we had the power to change the weather, we might not be in this situation.

Summer always comes to an end at some point. How we feel about the transition has no effect on the outcome.

This lack of control applies to many things in life.

Almost everything dies eventually. It may take millions of years, or a matter of minutes, but few things last forever. Planets, seasons, and people all fall into this inevitable conclusion.

The only thing you have power over is your attitude towards the ending. Resisting change doesn’t make it easier to deal with its evolution.

Instead of trying in vain to stop the progression of time, take steps to make the transition easier.

Accept that change is inevitable and look forward.

The movement of time is what brings growth and excitement of the unknown. Can you imagine how boring life would become if there was nothing new to experience?

Our environment needs all four seasons, so take time to envision the benefits and pleasures that lay ahead. Look forward to cozy times in front of the fire, days on the slopes, and your warmer clothing.

Don’t go from lazy to crazy in one fell swoop.

Gently ease yourself into the transition from one season to the next.

Try not to throw your family into all the activities that come with a new school year. Set some time aside just to kick back and relax, rather than nonstop rushing around.

If you have children, make small changes to gradually re-establish school-time routines.

Adapt some of your favourite summer activities, so they’re more fall friendly.

Just because it isn’t as warm, that’s no excuse not to get outside, go out on the lake, or have a picnic. Aim for some lazy, crazy days of autumn.

Change and transition doesn’t have to be hard. You get to choose how you want to progress through it. If you want to feel differently, change your perspective.

If all else fails, remember how quickly time passes. Before you know it, summer will be back, and you’ll be another year older.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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