I remember coming across a quote about a year ago which said something to the effect of: “You can either be at peace with yourself and war with the world or at war with yourself and peace with the world.” I tried to google it, but couldn’t find the author.
I particularly recognize how this quote played out in my past, where I defaulted to the “expected” behavior like going to church. “Nice” people go to church. Except my heart wasn’t in it. Consequently, I would show up late, leave early, and have plenty of judgmental thoughts. For example, one of the ushers rubbed me the wrong way, for reasons I still am not quite sure about, and I would get upset every time I saw him. Again, to the outside world, it would appear I was a “good” person by going to church. Inside, however, I was very conflicted at best.
Once I got clear on who I am and how going to church feeds my values, just like in the quote, much has inverted. I am rarely late, never leave early, and I give a big, genuine smile every time I see the usher I mentioned earlier. On the flip side, it’s getting harder and harder to look the other way as I become more sensitive to how people treat each other. In particular, how my corporation is set up to value the person not for who they are, but what they are perceived to be able to do. Nothing evil per se, and yet so discouraging to be a witness of a vicious cycle where pretending becomes second nature and empathy disappears.
The real challenge, or an opportunity for that matter, is finding the sweet spot where the peace with oneself and the world overlap. I know this is a lofty ideal, but even when I fall short, I’ll still be in a much better position than if I just accepted the binary nature of the quote as-is. I wish I had a concrete personal example. I do not. I do have an analogy, though. I believe by being at peace with ourselves, we communicate consistent messages through our words and more importantly actions, which in turn become a magnet attracting the parts of the world that resonate with who we are. Come to think of it, I do have a personal example. This is how I met my fiancé and because I tasted this possibility in one area of my life, I don’t see why it can’t work in all other areas of my life.
So how about you? Which areas of your life are you at peace with yourself? Which ones are you at peace with the world? Is there an overlap or conflict between the two?
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