Tag Archives: love

Stay calm and carry on

Stay calm and carry on

I’ve always noticed calm people. Perhaps because most people aren’t, but also because it seems so clear that calm people don’t suffer the stresses of modern life: the insults, accusations, disappointments, injustices, incompetence, corruption, arrogance, disloyalty, unkindness, cruelty, unwillingness, bullying and more; and that’s just from my 12-year old.  Just kidding, I don’t have kids.

Your days may not be so bad, but often I do experience enough of the above to feel stressed or lose my cool.

Calmness as a coping strategy

Many people especially particularly sensitive people, try to be calm to avoid the pain and stresses of modern living. They’ve learned that reacting emotionally never comes from a calm place and they almost always regret it.

Raising my voice, swearing, composing that hour-long reply and hitting Reply All has never worked out for me.

It always made things worse.

If only I had taken the time to calm down, cool out, I almost certainly would have been able to choose a more effective response, or like a true zen master, not react at all.

Calmness 101

Most people would say they try to remain calm but it’s more like they’re trying to create or more accurately simulate calm so that they reduce stress and avoid doing something to damage a relationship, or otherwise ensuring they get the result they don’t want.

This I expect is how most people will begin their practice of calmness, and how many will grow, eventually, to just always be in a calm state. But I think there might be a more productive way to practice being calm than just as a coping method for stress.

What calmness is

Calmness is not an end in itself so much as a sign of something else: being at peace which comes from profound spiritual practices of compassion and faith. Practices that I believe are not restricted to religious followers.

As a manifestation of peace

People who remain calm even in the face of chaos, discord, personal attack etc. are able to do so because they are fundamentally at peace with themselves, and the way things are. They rest in a profound faith in the goodness of mankind and that things will work out despite how badly things look now.

You may be lucky to have had such a role model in your life; maybe a grandparent, a teacher, an aunt, a holy man or woman, but I think most people aren’t so lucky. But we do have famous role models like Chopra, Tolle, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis. Mother Theresa would have made the list were she still with us.

These people exude a calm that comes from a deep love of self, a knowing of the unity of all things, a clarity of purpose and an undying faith that things will work out.

what to practice

There is nothing wrong with practicing being calm as a coping mechanism or a pill to avoid anxiety, anger and stress, but I think this may be a kind of fast food calmness that only gives a fraction of the benefit of being truly a calm person.

True calmness comes from being at peace which most of us won’t access directly. It’s not as simple as yelling “serenity now!” but you don’t have to be a religious person, or even consider yourself deeply spiritual to get there.

Here are some simple exercises to help you get calmer and more peaceful.

Practice Gratitude

Keep a gratitude journal and write down at least three things you are grateful for every day. Keep this up for a month and you’ll find yourself fixating on the good things going on around you every day, and easily letting go of the negative stuff. But don’t ever stop

Practice acknowledgment

Notice people. Make the people around you feel that you see them, and that you’ re glad they’re there. It’s as easy as telling your waiter “You have a lovely smile,” your assistant “Those were good points you raised today” or asking your child “What did you learn today?”

Practicing acknowledgements makes others feel good, but more importantly reflects joy and caring back to you and helps you remain calm and carry on, despite what’s going on around you.

Practice compassion

There’s no better way to be calm and at peace with the world than by giving up resistance and judgement.

Here’s a great exercise from Harry Palmer to develop the empathy necessary for acceptance and compassion.

Repeat this every morning before you face the world:

From the work of Harry Palmer and Star's Edge inc.
From the work of Harry Palmer and Star’s Edge inc.

Do these and you may also avoid a heart attack or stroke.

How airports really connect us

How airports really connect us

It’s easy to believe that we’re surrounded by hate, mistrust, violence etc.  News reports often add the cute human or animal story at the end of their programs as an antidote to the poison they spread, but because it’s so clearly thrown in as the odd special interest story we don’t even consider that storiesContinue Reading

The one job of a parent

The one job of a parent

Almost every time I’ve listened to the stories of someone lacking self-confidence or going through recurring relationship problems, depression, anger, etc. I’ve heard one of a child who felt  they weren’t loved, weren’t loved as much as another sibling, or were loved conditionally e.g. by good grades, winning, doing chores etc. Mom/Dad didn’t love meContinue Reading

The Importance of family

In the movie Antwone Fisher, the main character is on track to get kicked out of the Navy for belligerence and disrespect for authority when the Navy shrink (Denzel Washington) steps in. Turns out Antwone’s (Derek Luke) father was killed before he was born and his mother never claimed him. Growing up in the careContinue Reading

A Caregiver’s Touch

A Caregiver’s Touch

When my dad was in the hospital, I had an opportunity to observe the different styles of doctors.  They ran all the way from aloof and distant to intimate and caring. Now I can’t imagine what it does to a person’s psyche to watch people die as part of your job; to literally pronounce theirContinue Reading

The gift of sweet sorrow

Earlier this year, as I said goodbye to my brother and his family at Schiphol airport there was that old familiar pain of saying goodbyes to loved ones; that pang of sadness. In the past it was usually at saying goodbye to my parents and it got worse as they got older; so bad inContinue Reading

Use that video button more often—one day you’ll be happy you did

There’s a video feature on every modern day digital camera that most people don’t use. That’s a pity because it really takes no skill to shoot a video. You may not win any academy awards, but you could capture a moment that earns you a spot on America’s funniest videos, or better yet; capture aContinue Reading

One VEEERY useful tip for saving relationships

Relationships are hard—very hard in fact.  For many of us, the most important ones become strained, unhealthy, even toxic and we stay in them because we are connected through family bonds. Many others die over a period of time. Sometimes slowly, sometimes stunningly fast. What’s amazing to me, is that even when there’s distinct andContinue Reading

Do you practice (at) your relationships?

It might seem odd to associate the word practice with relationships, yet I think it’s appropriate.  You need to practice at whatever you want to be great at, and the fact is most people suck at relationships. Relationships (not just the romantic ones) end, sometimes bitterly, remain stagnant, or distant—without any passion, joy or excitement—andContinue Reading

Dignity, Honor and Respect at 2009 Australian Open Award Ceremony

If ever there was an epic display of love, honor and respect it was in the award ceremony of the 2009 Australian Open.  The clip is below, and if you’re the emotional type you’ll want to watch it even if tennis is not your thing.  You could feel feel a tsunami of emotion in theContinue Reading

Tears from joy and love

The other day my friend Brenda posted a video of a guy dancing on her blog “Scrapbooks for the Soul“, and she said it made her cry. It shows a very white guy, doing a very white jig in different places all over the world. Now I’m out of the closet when it comes toContinue Reading

Does this move you?

I was.  Take a look at this:   You can find it on You Tube under “Lifehouse Everything skit”