Isn’t it interesting that we give a month to focus on so many valuable causes or underserved members of our community, but for International Day of Peace, something that arguably affects us all, we commit only a single day – September 21st? 

Perhaps it is because our locus of control is so small, so insignificant to the scope of INTERNATIONAL PEACE, that we just need a moment of remembrance and reflection. But I want to challenge you to take it a step further. Or a few steps farther. And it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or insurmountable. 

Start with Yourself

We all crave peace – yet we inevitably spend more time experiencing stress, frustration, anger, and perhaps conflict. Have you ever thought about what pushes your buttons, sets you off, or really frustrates you?  I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.  And I’m not talking about the people, and behaviors, that are likely triggers.  They will always be there. Instead, I’m thinking more broadly and introspectively.  I’m looking at the choices I make which set the wheels in motion for me to be more easily agitated.  

Here’s what I’ve noticed:  For me, stress is a precursor to anger. 

I am calmer on days when I’m engaged in one or two long tasks rather than a dozen short ones.  I’m more easily frustrated when I’m concerned about time.  And, unfortunately, I am especially compromised when those two situations overlap, which they often do.  The more things I attempt to accomplish in a day, the more rushed and time conscious I have to be.  All of these situations cause me to feel stressed, and ultimately leave me less tolerant of the behaviors of others.

Knowing these internal triggers is helpful, but knowing what I can do about them is even better.  Here are a few things I’m trying to do to manage my stress and reclaim control of my temper – and therefore my life. Perhaps some will resonate with you as well.

1.      Consciously plan my day and week.  I’ve realized that being booked end to end with Zoom meetings and webinars and other engagements – enjoyable or not – takes a toll on me.  Especially with having two children who require a well of my energy at the end of the day.  As a result, I’ve been pairing down my activities and commitments and am trying to be conscious of my energy levels.

2.      Limiting use of my smart phone for checking email.  Do I need to check it when I’m at lunch, out of the office, or with people I care about?  No.  Especially since if it’s important I most likely don’t have the time or resources necessary to respond if I’m out of the office.  Using it during off hours also presents a challenge to my relationships with others, and quite frankly, I need to allow myself DOWN time.

3.      Taking a walk or just getting outside.  Being in the fresh air – and away from technology’s hum -always rejuvenates and builds me up.  My mood is better, my focus is heightened, and of course it’s good for my body too.

4.      Saying “No”.  No to joining committees, volunteering, or participating in activities that are not deeply important to me.  As a people pleaser this is difficult – but I keep perspective by remembering that I must consciously plan my time, and that my goal of being calm and peaceful is vitally important. I’m working to find a mantra that will help ground me.

While managing stress levels may not be your solution to managing your temper, I hope it encourages you to look inward and determine what situations are precursors for your own.  Learning these things about yourself is an important step to mitigating conflicts, managing mood, and maintaining healthy relationships. 

True, your efforts may not bring about international peace. But perhaps they can create a domino effect that slowly changes the trajectory of your world and brings you peace.