I just got back from a retreat that focused entirely on peace. It was fitting, since it’s Winter Break from college. All during the semester, people kept saying how they just can’t wait to relax over Winter Break. College students kept telling me, “You’ll love it. It’s the ONLY time there’s nothing you need to be doing.”
But people exaggerate the peacefulness of Winter Break. It’s the Holiday Season, so it’s still stressful. There always seems to be something that needs to be done.
Yesterday, I got in a funk because I was annoyed that I haven’t had much down time since coming home. I’ve been trying to see all my friends, trying to help my mom put up and then take down Christmas decorations, mail Christmas cards, prepare for tons of family members to eat Christmas dinner at our house, and plan my summer.
But then I realized something. I had been making this Winter Break out to be this time of endless peace, of zero commitments, of “no work” so much so that I allowed myself to rarely find peace at school, saying things like: “Just keep moving; Winter Break is around the corner.”
“I know you’re tired, but just think: you can sleep in two weeks.” “Just one more paper until Break.”
I was setting myself up to be disappointed because I didn’t find the peace in college, and I didn’t find it at home.
The problem is that you can’t find peace by looking around or going somewhere new. You find peace from within. I know it sounds like some cliche yoga quote (not hating on yoga; I do it all the time), but peace really can only be found from yourself. Because if you keep plugging along just waiting for the next break, you’ll never stop to smell the roses and your breaks won’t be as satisfying as you were hoping they’d be.
That’s why we have to find peace daily, in every aspect of our lives, or else we’ll only be living by hanging on, and we’ll never be able to enjoy the hectic moments.
But how do we possibly find peace from within ourselves? Mother Theresa says it begins with a smile. I say it begins by taking a good, long look at WHY you are doing the things you’re doing. You’re not in school to just hang on until break; you’re not mailing Christmas cards so you can get paper cuts and lick way too many envelopes; you’re not seeing your friends because it’s a chore. Find the peace within these activities, the peace of knowing that you are loved and that your friends care about you, the peace of knowing the true meaning of Christmas.
It’s like Thich Hanh said, “Every day we do things that should be peaceful. If we are aware of our lives, our way of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment.”
When you find peace from within, you’ll make peace around you, and when we are all making peace, the world will finally be peaceful, even during the busy-ness.