How to turn conflict into peace

Is it possible that the U.S. has been involved in a military conflict of some kind for 222 of its 239 years?

It seems that wherever there are people, there are conflicts.

People fighting over religion.

People fighting over money.

People fighting over property.

People fighting over politics although that seems to often stem from a fight over one of the three things mentioned above.

And nations fighting over territorial boundaries and their right to certain lands.

Fighting over resources and who controls (and ultimately profits) from them.

For all the talk of freedom and peace and happiness, we seem to really enjoy fighting.

Or are so unconscious that we find ourselves in conflict by default.

Whether you’re arguing with your neighbor, your family or the pile of papers on your dining room table, something is at play within us that is unsettled and needing control and safety.

Unfortunately, we have a false sense of where safety and control comes from.

Or if it’s even possible.

Since today is the United Nation’s International Day of Peace we can celebrate on a macro and micro level, both the people working tirelessly to resolve conflicts and restore peace across the globe and our own personal surrender in the struggle with clutter, stuff and even the people in our lives.

Let’s begin with an internal ceasefire.

Do you have a conflict in your life that has outworn its welcome?

Have you been tormenting yourself (or someone else) with negative thoughts and disapproval?

If so, then let today be the day you begin taking steps towards resolving it and reestablishing peace in your life.

Conflicts clutter your life with unnecessary drama and stress.

You may be so used to conflict that you’re not even aware of the grudges and gripes that threaten your well being and your relationships.

So take a few moments right now to run a quick inventory and see what you’re dragging around with you.

Start with family, friends and colleagues and work your way outward to neighbors, the fellow at the dry cleaners and anyone else you’re vexed with.

See if you can forgive them and release whatever grievance you have towards them.

This is where Metta meditation is so useful as a practice.

Also known as loving-kindness meditation, Metta is distinct from silent sitting meditation in that you are supposed to be engaged and focused and speaking (at least internally).

So instead of recounting the horrible things that have happened to you or that you think happened to you, slip into a little Metta and see if you can release those stories and at the same time, love yourself.

Yes, I said it.

Love yourself.

Just know that someplace inside me that phrase makes my skin crawl a bit, so if that lands on you uncomfortably, too, I understand.

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love ourselves, it means we could use a bit more practice.

Woo hoo.

So 5-10 minutes of Metta and you should be centered enough to step back and examine any of these conflicts with a detached perspective. Here’s a guided video meditation to start you off.

Maybe you had a disagreement with a friend who had a night out with other mutual friends, but didn’t invite you.

Or you’re angry with your brother who happened to pop the question to his girlfriend ONE WEEK before you are getting married—this happened to my cousin.

Whatever the conflict, with your new and calm viewpoint, dig into the story a bit further.

Are you missing a vital piece of information that would allow you to see that whatever you’re perceiving was not in fact about you?

And even if you aren’t, would you rather be right or happy?

I’d love to be both but given the choice, I’ll choose happy over right almost all the time.

And when I cling to right at the expense of happy, at least I know what I’m doing—torturing myself.

If you can’t let go internally, take the next step and reach out to the person and open up about how you feel.

Share with them why you felt hurt and let them express their feelings without interruption.

Be open and honest and allow an actual conversation between the two of you to unfold.

In our sitcom, social media world it is easy to forget what a conversation looks and feels like.

What it doesn’t look like is a series of formulated responses delivered like they were punchlines.

And then sitting waiting for your turn to speak again while you tolerate the other person but are secretly making a shopping list in your mind.

Chances are that if you tell the truth and really listen without feeling judged, you will be able to resolve the issue pretty quickly.

And we all know what it feels like when that weight falls off our shoulders.

With all the clutter in our lives, stress is not something we should let stick around.

Celebrate the International Day of Peace and embrace the principle of, “More Love, Less Stuff!”



*Metta translates as loving-kindness in Pali, the language much of the earliest Buddhist writing is recorded in

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