Comfort is no substitute for peace
I'm going into this year with a work project that I am grateful will fill my schedule. It is timely because we are now back in a lockdown of sorts to respond to the number of Omicron cases in Ontario. Sigh. I'm diving into the research phase of creating a new course, and you can expect me to share some of my learning here.
For many years I have wrapped up the year with some reflection. I set goals, choose a word, create a vision board and walk a labyrinth.
I decided not to set any goals this year. (I wrote an article on the website Kind Over Matter if you want to read more.) And I wasn't really in the mood for reflecting, although I did a little when I walked the labyrinth.
On New Year's Eve, I decided to do a vision board for the coming year. My motivation was practical. I use a frame every year for it, and I didn't want it to be empty for 2022.
I have landed on the word "Peace" for the coming year, and I decided to make that the theme of my vision board. I was flipping through stacks of old magazines, looking for pictures and words that captured my intention to focus on peace. I was surprised by what I noticed. I was about ten magazines in, and I hadn't found the word peace anywhere. If I were looking for joy, comfort or cozy, I would have finished my vision board quickly and could have moved on to the next item on my list - soaking in the tub.
My magazine stash includes National Geographic, Health & Spirituality, Success, Country Living, and Victoria magazine. There are a few other random ones I've gathered over the year. You know the standard ones passed around between friends and family members. These magazines subtly shape our thinking of what is essential in life as women.
After flipping through magazines, I realized that comfort is everywhere and peace is not so much. It makes sense - it is easy to sell comfort. Cozy and comfy have found a market during Covid. How many books do we need to learn about Hygge, the Danish obsession with getting cozy?
I love being cozy. I live in soft clothes. I have blankets everywhere in the winter. I'm drawn to Cottagecore decor and style. But I've learned this past year that I can be in the most serene setting with anxiety pulsating through my body.
We've been sold a very narrow definition of comfort. Comfort is defined as 'relief and encouragement or is a person who provides this for another.' We comfort one another. It is about consolation and hope, not about blankets and sweats.
So what about my word for the year? I define peace as a calm state of mind. I'm looking for that sense of harmony that I feel when my values and actions align. I'm choosing peace as a way to guide my decision-making. Peace comes from within. Being at peace with the way I live and my choices is significant in doing the work I want to do in this world. I experience peace in relationships when I show up honestly without compromising to please other people.
The truth is that cultivating peace starts on the inside. We need to listen to when and why we feel anxious. We need to get in touch with our feelings and name them. We need to learn to listen and take action when we are out of alignment with our deepest values. It isn't easy, and it might not sell magazines, but you can wear fleece while you do the work.