Peace and goodwill

You cannot add to the peace and goodwill of the world if you fail to create an atmosphere of harmony and love right where you live and work ~ Thomas Dreier

This was my favorite quote last week. At first glance it seems simplistic and even needless to say that peace and goodwill have to begin at home. Where else could it begin? And yet you can turn on any tv news program or tune in talk radio and easily recognize that many people are not concerned with peace and goodwill anywhere, at home or world wide. And why is that?

Yes, there are times when conflict is unavoidable. And there are times that discord doesn’t rise to the level of conflict, but there is an absence of harmony and love.

Once upon a time I lived in an atmosphere of discord. I’m sorry to say that I caused a lot of it myself. I allowed my irritation and frustration to bubble up on a regular basis…never with people I worked with, or with friends. But sometimes with my kids, and most often, with my husband. Without seeking conflict, I regularly felt on edge, and was quick to adopt a defensive attitude.

At some point, I recognized that this wasn’t the person I wanted to be. I don’t recall now what specific circumstance triggered my breakthrough. But as I began to change myself, to choose to be different, it was easier and became natural to have a giving and forgiving spirit, a soft tone, and to brush off things that once raised my irritation level to red in the flash of a moment.

I learned to ask myself “how does this help?” as a filter for my words and actions. I’ve referenced that tool before, and I have to say it has been the single most useful internal check I have found.

Recently I have struggled with another facet of this behavior. I was reading about personality styles and specifically about passive personalities, and I began to question if the changes I have made in my behavior have made me a doormat, a passive person who takes refuge in agreement for the sake of agreement.

I fully acknowledge that I am not someone who seeks confrontation, so there is a piece of the passive personality that I identify with and recognize. However, the change in attitude and behavior that I am describing is actually anything but passive. Initially it took a lot of effort and self-control to change myself, and even now, years later, I practice these skills. I am active in my choice to bring harmony to my home as much as possible. The side benefit that I’ve received out of that choice, ingrained now by the habit of years, is that I rarely have to work at a loving attitude, a soft response. I have chosen that there are few things worth battle in my home and in my family relationships. I have chosen to foster harmony and joy.

It didn’t come easily at first. And there are still times when my natural instinct would be to react, to snap back at something that is irritating or frustrating. And this is not a declaration of perfection on my part. I still have moments, and if I don’t make some mistakes, I make others. But the point is: I’ve learned the secret. And the secret is choice.

If your world is not what you would like, make a choice. It has to begin with someone. Be the one. You’ll benefit, and my bet is that others in your family or circle of friends will benefit also. And the little extra, thrown in for free? You really will be adding to the peace and goodwill of the world. It begins with you, in your home, your family, your office, your circle. And the knowledge that you are choosing is very empowering, very liberating.