Searching for Serenity in Turbulent Times

By Mary Reitano
A popular exercise these days is choosing a “word for the year” to focus on — such as joy, challenge, or justice. I chose the word “serenity.” Oxford Languages defines serenity as “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.” In the continuing pandemic, serenity sometimes seems a lost cause. How can we find it?
Try starting each morning with a calming ritual. Whether sipping coffee, exercising, reading, or cuddling your pet, begin the day peacefully. Rita Watson, public health expert, suggests creating “reservoirs of calm and confidence” with a daily review of uplifting moments and positive decisions, and practicing active gratitude. Watson also recommends avoiding toxic personalities that steal your peace.
You can benefit from silence. Columnist Meerabelle Dey suggests spending “some parts of the day without noise. Noise can prevent you from truly relaxing.” What about our visual environment? Dey comments that “spas don’t have dirty towels on the floors and shelves covered with knickknacks. You can’t relax in a place that is messy. Make your home…tidy and beautiful–a refuge for your mind and senses.”
Keep problems in perspective. Remember “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff–It’s All Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson? This book helped me let go of minor annoyances stealing my peace of mind. And concerning minor frustrations, a good friend calls them “first-world problems.” Many of our problems are trivial compared to third-world citizens’—such as starvation or genocide.
A couple of creative serenity boosts come from writer Carol Rubenstein. She recommends “uni-tasking–focus on each task, one at a time.” Or “Rock Out” with a favorite song. During a stressful season, I played and replayed “Roll With It,” by Steve Winwood, to calm me down: “When life is too much, roll with it, baby…. Don’t stop and lose your touch, oh no, baby…. When this world turns its back on you, hang in and do that sweet thing you do….” Rubenstein also suggests a “serenity trigger…that helps you find a peaceful place” when needed. Hers is an image of a beautiful flower blooming in a glass jar which reminds her to stop and find serenity amidst the chaos.
I would be remiss not to mention spiritual practices that enhance serenity. Quaker Richard Foster wrote that prayer creates “the emotional and spiritual space that allows God to construct an inner sanctuary in the heart.” Buddha proclaimed: “Those who are free from resentful thoughts surely find peace.” The prophet Isaiah declared: “you will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon you, because he trusts in you.” And the apostle Paul prayed “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way….”
As Carol Rubenstein suggests, I encourage you to “begin this week by using a special power–the ability to find serenity amidst chaos–and watch as the beauty of the week unfolds around you.”

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