POINTS TO PONDER

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Often peace is seen in contrast, such as, “Peace is a treaty between two warring parties,” or “Peace is a condition of serenity beyond the reach of discord.” There is also “internal” peace and “external” peace. But what is not often discussed is how to attain peace to the satisfaction of all involved. Psychologists tell us that peace also includes one’s mental strength, especially the confidence in being able to handle whatever life throws against you. The main component is not wasting time and energy wishing things were different or trying to change the mind of the opposition.

Certified Social Worker Amy Morin lists a number of important things that mentally strong people don’t do in order to maintain inner peace. For instance, they do not surround themselves with toxic people that can forcefully affect the way they think, feel, and behave. Engaging with people who lie, gossip, bully, or cheat takes a toll on one’s well-being. Mentally strong people don’t waste their energy trying to change toxic people. They establish healthy emotional and physical boundaries. Once those lines are crossed, they disengage.

Another thing is not to become guilty of excessive self-blame. Thinking everything is 100 percent your fault – whether it’s a failed relationship or an accident – will affect the way you see yourself and the world around you. You can’t always prevent bad things from happening. Mentally strong people take appropriate accountability. They recognize they’re responsible for their choices, but they also acknowledge factors beyond their control – like the state of the economy, the weather, and other people’s choices.

There is also the delusion of constantly chasing happiness. Thinking you need to be happy all the time will backfire. Momentary pleasure is much different than long-term satisfaction. Mentally strong people are willing to put in the hard work it takes to gain contentment. They refuse to give in to instant gratification or temporary indulgences. They look for ways to build a brighter future by creating long-term goals.

Beware always staying in one’s comfort zone. It may seem like staying inside your comfort zone is the key to feeling good in life. But avoiding discomfort always backfires in the end. Mentally strong people face their fears, venture into unknown areas, and test their limits. They know that being uncomfortable is tolerable, and allowing themselves to experience discomfort is the key to living a better life.

Another essential component is to resist developing a victim mentality. Thinking the world and the people in it are out to get you will prevent you from being your best. In fact, if you blame all of your problems on external circumstances, you’ll never take responsibility for your life. Mentally strong people acknowledge their choices, even in the face of tragic circumstances. They focus on the things they can control, and they refuse to waste their time hosting pity parties.

It is also a waste of time to always try to impress people. You could waste a lot of your life trying to make people like you. Depending on admiration from others, however, gives others power over you.

Mentally strong people are comfortable in their own skin. They don’t waste their time worrying about whether other people approve of their choices. Instead, they focus on living according to their values.

The pursuit of perfection is another battle that must be won.  Striving for excellence is healthy. But insisting on perfection is an uphill battle. You’ll never feel good enough if you set the bar impossibly high. Mentally strong people accept that they’re going to fail and make mistakes. They are able to acknowledge their flaws and weaknesses.

Then there is the habit of holding grudges. You may think holding onto a grudge somehow punishes someone else. But, in reality, clinging to anger and hatred only reduces your life. Mentally strong people let go of grudges so they can focus their energy on more worthwhile causes. That doesn’t mean they allow themselves to be abused by people, however. It just means they don’t allow pent-up resentment to overtake their lives.

Not wanting to be left out leads to an endless quest for material things. No matter how much money you make, a bigger house, a nicer car, or more expensive clothing won’t give you peace of mind. Expecting material possessions to satisfy your needs will leave you sorely disappointed. Mentally strong people aren’t necessarily minimalists, however. They can enjoy nice things. But they don’t expect their material possessions to give them joy and contentment.

Also, be careful about complete self-reliance. Thinking you can do everything on your own is about acting tough–not being strong. There will be times when asking for help is important. Mentally strong people aren’t afraid to admit when they need help. Whether they rely on a higher power, ask for professional help, or lean on a friend during a time in need, they gain strength from others. Knowing they don’t have to have all the answers gives them a renewed sense of inner peace.

But the Bible is not silent on this subject. There are too many to list here, but there are two that are important to remember.  The prophet Isaiah said that God will keep in perfect peace all who trust in Him, all whose thoughts are fixed on Him![1] The Apostle Paul wrote: Now that we are right with God by putting our trust in Him, we have peace with Him. It is all because of what our Lord Jesus the Anointed One did for us.[2] And in the courageous lyrics of a grand old hymn of the church, we too can sing: “When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, even so, it is well, with my soul.”[3] So, such peace is not the work of human hands, but a gracious gift from God the Messiah, the Prince of Peace.[4] – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Isaiah 26:3

[2] Romans 5:1

[3] Written by Horatio Spafford (1973) after he lost his son and business in the great Chicago fire (1871), and then his wife and two daughters in a collision and sinking of their ship at sea (1873).

[4] Isaiah 9:6

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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