How to Find Peace in Chaos

Growth and Development
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How do you find peace in chaos?

You define the elements that create this environment, break it down into understandable parts, then make a plan to change what you can control.

My chaos these days comes from an emotional clusterfuck in the heart of transitions and a global dramedy of tired topics. It’s tough to be segmented and regimented when personal matters, career aspirations, and global disfunction clash and bombard our daily lives. Maybe you have additional circumstances to work through like mental illness, taking care of ailing family members, or surviving trauma. Maybe your chaos is consumed by just one impactful situation.

Everyone’s chaos is unique. We have our own collections of stressors and realities that impact our ability to think clearly, solve our problems, and lead peaceful and happy lives.

To tackle my own plate of seemingly well-organized shit, I did an exercise to break through the noise of my thoughts, obsessions, and anxieties so I could start making moves about what actually matters to me.

My goal in this post is to help you find peace in chaos by sharing 3 steps to clear the air, hone your focus, and regain control.

  1. Define your chaos
  2. Break it down
  3. Create a plan

1. Define Your Chaos

Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides these definitions:

Chaos (n): as a state of utter confusion

Peace (n): a state of tranquility

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do you feel? What is it that makes you feel confused or out of control?
  • Looking at the elements that make you feel this way, which parts can you control?
  • What brings you peace?

Throughout the day, we feel an incredible amount of emotional flux. We can learn to control many of these thoughts but only with practice. Mind control is the name of the game. If you don’t decide how you want to use your energy, our environment will make that decision for us.

As much as we are sidetracked and bombarded by media, business, and pop culture of what, when, and why to think, we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions. Sometimes, all it takes is defining exactly what it is, part by part, by taking an honest and scrupulous analysis of our emotions.

2. Break it down

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So now you know how you feel, but it’s still messy. How can we isolate why or how we continue to feel this way?

Here are some ways you can start to get a handle on your brilliant mind.

  • Meditate.

Really. Do it. Mindfulness is trendy, and for good reason. It answers a need that is all too present in our fast-paced, technologically-fueled, convenience-centered lives of 2019. When you don’t have the day’s to-do list running constantly in your mind, or you’re not running from task to task, or you spend more than 5 minutes away from your phone, you can then give your mind a chance to breathe. This space allows your brain to explore topics lingering in the back of your mind and help you recognize subconscious thoughts, how they behave and fluctuate, and ultimately how they affect conscious thoughts and your day-to-day happiness.

Visit Gaiam for a beginner’s guide to meditation.

  • Reflect.

Start by writing in a journal of that day’s events. Your brain will end up making connections through the process of writing that you may not have observed otherwise. For instance, you may note that a friend said something to you that piqued your interest or how much a stranger’s smile boosted your confidence. I also challenge you to try writing in a stream of consciousness style, or freewriting. This is essentially writing without stopping to think or plan what to say. This helps gets your subconscious thoughts on paper and allow you to assess and pinpoint where the feeling of chaos is coming from.

Check out this Huffpost article on the benefits of journaling.

  • Review the past.

If you find yourself regularly thinking about past events, take some focused time and energy to observe what happened with as much of a non-biased eye as possible. There is no point in repeatedly reliving the event and related trauma, so give yourself the time to assess so you can move forward. Review it thoroughly, bravely assess those emotions you felt and continue to feel, and note how you would like future situations to improve. Then, move on. Let it go. It’s true that whatever you think about most becomes larger and, many times, overwhelming, creating a situation that some may refer to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Focusing on past regrets or shame will keep you not only in the past but in a constricting mind frame that hinders real growth.

Read this article by Tony Robbins’ team on how to let go of the past.

3. Create a Plan

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Plan for the future you want. Visualize the person you want to be by thinking of a situation that made you feel bad, unworthy, or less than your true character. Rewrite that scene in your head as the person you ultimately want to be. Visualize, and assert those actions into reality. Use detailed steps and develop routines to ensure consistency.

Take care of yourself. When people have problems, we tend to nurse them with the sweet array of vices around us: alcohol, drugs, tv, sex, gossip. Whatever your poison, recognize that your physiology affects your emotions. If you are sleep-deprived, you may feel aggravated and groggy, which blocks your ability to be patient and think creatively with an open mind. If you are eating fast-food every day, your body doesn’t get the nutrition it needs and puts your body and mind in a slump. If you are always on the move, you may not be listening to signs your body gives you. Remember to take breaks, use meditation to be aware of how your body feels, and never forget to include activities that bring joy.

Whether it’s making tough decisions like taking a hard look at your harmful habits or saying goodbye to toxic friends, the decision to find peace is on you.

I am going through these steps as honestly and as paced as I need, so that I could become the person that I want to be. If you end up going through these steps or would like to share your opinions or experience, please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.

Happy healing!

Korea Part 4: Transition

Travel

Transition does not happen overnight, but when a whole bunch of shit happens one after the next, it forces you to make quick decisions that hopefully powerfully align with your gut.

Brian was six years old when he came to live with us. My brother and Brian’s mom had separated years before, and the day that most of us hadn’t anticipated was happening. We were at my cousin’s house in El Segundo – no parents, just my cousin, brother, and me.

Suddenly, we had become the adults with the urgent need to be responsible, and we waited big-eyed for the next addition to our family. I held my breath as the social worker pulled up in her gray sedan, briefed us adults, then opened the car door to let a pair of skinny, tan legs crawl out.

He had a buzz cut and wore a baggy dark grey sweater. He had his chin pointed down and peered around apprehensively, timid and curious at the same time. He looked so much like my brother except with darker skin. He was thin.

At first, he didn’t say anything as he sat on my cousin’s huge couch and we all gathered around him. He kept his head down and was grateful when he was handed an iPad. Angry Birds ensued. As he played trying not to mind the three adults murmuring around him, peering at him and admiring how much he had grown, my brother began to renew their connection.

In 15 minutes, we were running around the living room and playing a ridiculous game of tag where the person who was caught instantly became a zombie after a melodramatic fall to the earth.

Not all airports have bookstores.

Spoiled from LAX’s masses of books, magazines, and snacks, I scoured Incheon Airport convinced there had to be one stand or food mart with something, anything, to read on the 5-hour flight back home.

A beautiful building yet lacking. Even more interesting or sad is that there’s no need. I looked around to see no one reading, though it’s hard to tell if people are reading or meme-ing in their death stares.

In an anxious mind, the land of multitasking, I FaceTimed my brother and sister-in-law, wrote my travel notes, prepared career-building reading for the flight, and sexted my boyfriend.

There’s a quote by Publilius Syrus.

To do two things at once is to do neither.

Though I’m pretty sure I got wet while working on my professional development.  

I’m not an opportunist, more of a human desiring machine-like efficiency with growing diligence and delivery. Another quote to reflect on is by DJ Quik.

Stay ready so you don’t need to get ready.

At half an hour before boarding, I reflect on my to-do list once I land: pack up to move home, start making money from teaching English online, find other work, establish my writing routine, start my real estate course.

The list will always be there, I realized yet again, finely aware of the death and rebirth cycled in so many forms recently. Then I boarded, wondering how to survive, first, the 5-hour flight without a book.