How Much is Your Peace Worth?

Parking Meter. How much is your peace worth?
Image by Bruce Emmerling from Pixabay

Life is stressful for a variety of reasons: time pressure, financial challenges, health issues, professional needs, relational strife, and more. One thing that seems to be perpetually in short supply is peace. When I think of peace, I conjure words like tranquility, serenity, and freedom. Peace represents a hush in the storm, a pause of the worry, a break from the stress. In theory, most people love the idea of having more peace in their lives. At the same time, in practice, I see many people resist taking actions that would lead to more peace. Which leads me to the question, “How much is your peace worth?”

I recently started to wonder about this question one day as I was heading to work. One client I work with lives in an apartment building in an urban location. To see her, I need to park on the street where there is metered parking. The meter charges me in 15-minute increments. As I typically work in three-hour blocks, this translates into twelve increments. However, I have learned over the years that it takes me awhile when I’m finishing with a client to gather my things, ride the elevator, and walk to my parking spot. Additionally, it is not uncommon for a client to enjoy chatting for a couple of minutes when our session is finished (we usually both like to “enjoy the glow” of the work we have done). As a result, I often arrive at my parking spot a few minutes after the twelfth increment has passed. Therefore, because I don’t want to be rushed – because I want to experience peace at the end of my session – I have gotten into the habit of paying for a thirteenth increment of parking. Fortunately, this represents a small amount of money, a sum which has been more than worthwhile in allowing me to take my time and be at peace.

This notion of doing things to increase our peace – particularly our peace at a future point in time – is worth considering. One might initially think this requires taking large, painful, expensive action. But often this is not the case. Instead, it is frequently small actions and choices that have the greatest impact. The question, then, is what are you willing to do to make life a bit easier for yourself down the road? How much is your future peace worth?

Here are a few examples of questions you might ask yourself:

  • Is it worth spending a few extra minutes to put an item away, instead of placing it down in a convenient location, to make it easier to find the next time it is wanted?
  • Is it worth the energy tonight to set out everything that will be needed tomorrow morning to make the start of the day more peaceful?
  • Is it worth the loss of sleep to get up early enough to avoid the need to rush?
  • Is it worth the effort to call a weekly family meeting to look at calendars so as to avoid unexpected (and stressful) conflicts?
  • Is it worth the money to hire a babysitter in order to tackle a task with focused attention and hence complete it more efficiently?
  • Is it worth calling/videoconferencing someone, rather than sending a series of texts/emails, to talk through a complicated situation and avoid confusion?
  • Is it worth the sacrifice of time/attention one day a week to plan meals and grocery shop in order to minimize nightly decision-fatigue and time crunch?
  • Is it worth leaving early for an appointment to ensure a timely arrival, even if it means you might show up early?
  • Is it worth resetting your space on a daily/weekly basis to keep things from getting out of control and feeling overwhelming later?
  • Is it worth the investment to hire a professional to manage or handle a situation for which you lack skill or confidence?
  • Is it worth bringing up a “touchy” subject to avoid an indiscriminate time of silence, awkwardness, and relational distance?

Admittedly, the list of possible questions is endless. The challenge is to consider which situations in your life tend to cause you the most stress (i.e., are most likely to steal your peace), and then mindfully decide whether or not you are willing to “pay the price” that might be necessary to avert them. In some cases, this may require a change in behavior pattern. In others, plugging into external resources may be the wisest option. Either way, if you truly want to increase your peace, clarifying what is needed is the first step. Serially remaining in a posture of complaining will only perpetuate your stressful situation.

Importantly, I want to acknowledge that there may be seasons in life when we lack the power to enact the change we desire. For example, we may have limited funds to hire help, or we share a home with others who don’t share our priorities. However, this doesn’t mean that peace is unattainable. In many respects, peace is a mindset. There may be times when the price of peace is to simply do what we can, and then choose to be joyful “in the midst” of a tough situation.

Particularly when circumstances prevent the pursuit of a preferred course of action, the “price” for peace may come down to taking steps to lift your own spirits. This can involve anything from listening to the music you like, to talking with a friend, to sitting in the sun, to playing a round of golf, to establishing a spot in your home that is “off limits” to everyone else. Whatever reliably brings you peace is worth considering.

Peace rarely arrives without effort or cost. At the end of the day, since we are responsible for our own peace, each person must decide for himself/herself how much peace is worth.

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In what do you invest to enhance your peace?

Seana's signature

19 thoughts on “How Much is Your Peace Worth?”

  1. Wow! I love the analogy you are suggesting in the financial, emotional, and physical well being associated with peace of mind. Those of us who think “safety first” find this to be an easy and confident decision. However that is not the case for my clients who often have other priorities. It is always good to know what the decision is really about – peace of mind!

  2. You always support your premises with the best examples, Seana! The quest for peace, and doing what it takes to get it, is a version of doing now/today what will benefit future you. I am often too tired at night to clear my kitchen counter (which is open to three other rooms), but if I think of future me waking up to a clutter-free, peaceful kitchen, it’s easier to spend the few minutes it will take.

    1. I love the way you are talking about being kind to the future you. I also can relate to that feeling of not wanting to do something, but pushing through because I know it will make me happy later. Sometimes, the later is very far away, such as brushing and flossing to minimize the amount of dental work I will have to endure in the future. (For some reason, having work done in my mouth is one of my least favorite types of medical care. Nothing personal about dentists…I think it goes back to my “braces” days.)

  3. I love this article. Over the years I have changed and adjusted many things to bring peace. I leave early and bring a book to read because I would rather not be late. I stopped scheduling 2 things where I would have to leave one early to get to the next. I pick one and give my full attention to it. When my kids were at home we did weekly family meetings for a couple of years and they were so helpful in making things “run peacefully” around our house. Sometimes peace happens when I leave a group or committee that frustrates me. Actively looking for peace in our lives makes us better people who can more easily be of service to others.

    1. Your comment just says, “Pay attention” to me, Julie. Be mindful about looking for ways to bring more peace into your life. Peace is important, it matters, and therefore it is worth our mindful effort. Terrific point about not scheduling appointments too close together. The pressure to hurry is definitely a thief of peace.

  4. Ahhh. I feel more peaceful after reading your post. It validates my need for peace and calm. As I read through your wonderful examples of how to bring more peace to each day, it made me think of some things I do to create calmer, happier days. They include waking up early to meditate, shower, and have breakfast BEFORE my first appointment. I don’t like to rush. Not rushing makes me feel more relaxed and at peace.

    We also just hosted a large group here for Passover. This year I hired someone to clean in advance. That made the prep so much easier and less stressful. Post-gathering, we cleaned up so we were ready for the week.

    1. Happy Passover!

      I love this example of bringing in an external resource to provide support at a particularly critical moment. Even more, I love how you demonstrate that it wasn’t an “all or nothing” situation. Having support on the front end was enough to bring you peace, and then you were able to manage on your own afterwards. That’s so powerful. We have more options than we may think!

  5. You explained this so well, Seana, and supported your explanations with such clear examples, that it’s easy for anyone to see how their own peace can be increased or diminished. I have almost zero tolerance for lack of peace; I am inflexible in maintaining my boundaries because I know that lack of peace in my temporal, physical, or financial life will cause an almost immediate breakdown of function for me. (I know that rushing ensures that I will be too anxious to enjoy whatever I’m rushing to do, for example.) For years, I put up with organizations or relationships that wore away at my peace, no more!
    Julie Bestry recently posted…Paper Doll Refreshes Your Paper Organizing SolutionsMy Profile

    1. Rushing… that is such a good one. I know that when I’m rushing, I’m not patient and often verge on being unkind. I hate when I behave that way, so I try very hard to have sufficient time in between activities. Sometimes, this means saying “no” to things. Actually, if I’m being honest, it means saying no quite a lot.

  6. Great post, Seana! My goal has always been to make my home tranquil – an oasis from life’s challenges. So, I may spend more time organizing things to find them easily later. And, I may have to give up on the ideal scenario and settle for one step beyond good enough. This is a price I will pay for my priorities.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…8 Ways to Use a Zipper Storage PouchMy Profile

    1. I love that image of your home being “tranquil.” I think the idea of creating a tranquil space could be a powerful motivator. Instead of focusing on what you want your space to look like, think about how you want your home to function, and then go from there.

  7. Life is so packed with stressful situations it is very hard to have peace of mind. It is important to realize that sometimes it isn’t in your control no matter what you try. Doing something to distract us in that instance is a good idea as even a short break from worry is more healthy than worrying nonstop. I like your idea to analyze what possible steps could be taken to prevent stress such as your suggestion to leave early for an appointment even if you get there early. Allowing enough time for any activity instead of trying to rush through too many last minute things before you start something you have to do is definitely desirable. Sometimes we just get in the habit of trying to do more that is possible in the time we have. Peace of mind is incredibly important. Stress takes a terrible toll on our physical bodies.

    1. Stress definitely takes a toll on our bodies. That’s such a good point. Yes, there are times when we are running late in spite of our planning and best intentions. However, when time pressure becomes a daily situation, it is time to figure out what can be done.

      Love your point about doing something to distract ourselves when we are feeling the stress! Distraction can get us through an anxious moment.

  8. That’s such a good example because I do always pay a little more than I need in the parking app so I don’t need to think of it again. Works like a charm. So many of these things are definitely worth it for the peace they bring. Menu planning is a new big one for us.
    Tamara recently posted…This Is My Swan Song, GoneMy Profile

    1. Menu planning is definitely a peace-bringer. I’m participating in a Minimalism Virtual Meet-up next week, and I think I’ll mention this as one of my habits. It saves me so much time and energy in the long run, and probably money as well.

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