In our house, we discuss a different virtue every week (more on this another time), and we recently talked about Peacemaking. It was such a difficult topic that my daughter actually asked us to repeat it for a second week (I assure you this has never happened before). My kids have recognized what most adults seem to forget – that making peace with others and finding peace for yourself is really difficult and really important.
Peacemaking is finding peaceful ways to deal with problems. It is cooperating, working together, finding things you can agree on, and approaching conflict calmly. Peacemaking happens in your heart, in your home, in your community, and in the world.
To make peace, you need to remain calm, find things you have in common, find the good in the situation, assume the best, and keep at it, because sometimes it takes a few tries.
Here is a simple technique for keeping peace when it’s difficult. It’s called, coincidentally, S-L-O-W.
S – Stop what you are doing and/or thinking
L – Listen to the other person and/or yourself
O – Come up with Options
W – Work it out
Interestingly, my whole family agreed that the most difficult part was the “S”. Stopping that knee-jerk reaction to be mad, to assume the worst, to react impulsively. Because in the moment, you can actually feel the peace slip away – this happens fast. So, you need to interrupt that emotional wave, you know slow things down, and then it seems relatively straightforward to complete the rest of the steps. So, we brainstormed ways to “S” better…
- Count – forward, backward, with an alligator, by tens…
- Breathe – this can take lots of practice (even though we all do it every minute of every day!), so we practiced smelling and blowing – e.g. smelling a candle and blowing up a balloon – to get the sensation of deep breathing
- Imagine – identify words or images that have comforting and calming associations for you – close your eyes and see the word or picture whenever you need to
- Chew – we figured the amount of time it took to eat a Starburst was enough time to gain your composure in about any situation
You need to find the method that works for you. For me, breathing is most effective. Not surprisingly, my kids opted for the Starburst route.
And so, I’ll end with a quote about peace that I love…
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
It changes entirely the way you think about peacefulness from a goal to an attitude. It makes peace possible in every situation, even when there is conflict or chaos. It’s a powerful thought, if you stop and think about it.