Recently I've been looking back to times in my life when I've been at peace. Not just with people, but mentally. There's a clearness, a sharpness that comes with peace, almost as if a fog has been lifted from the world. Things seem simpler, and the hard things, while they don't disappear, seem to involve less thought or worry. It's the feeling that I get when I look across a calm lake during sunset, or up at the stars at night. Where does this come from? I can think of at least three things that help me to be at peace.

The first: Perspective. How do I currently see the world? Is it a crazy hectic whirlwind of thoughts, places and people, where time flys past and ideas get jumbled in the mass of work, school, and family that encompasses life? Sometimes it feels that way. Not when I'm at peace though. In fact, while life is hectic, and things fly past, I always feel like those people are part of a different world. Kind of like I'm stepping back and viewing the whole thing from a distance, and that helps things to become clear. Seeing the bigger picture is key to feeling at peace.

Number two: The Present: Looking at the big picture can do one of two things to me: Either I will feel as if I understand things better, or I will feel afraid, stressed, or even panicked. A good example of this is a student. Many times he or she can see their own small world with ease, and can concentrate on each project, one at a time, but when they step back and see their whole degree and potential life laid down before them, the idea seems looming and somewhat daunting. I believe that being able to see the past and future for what they are, without worrying about a decision I already made, or will someday have to make, is also very important to a feeling of peace. More important than that however is being able to appreciate and reflect upon the present! Letting life fly by without having time to really THINK about what is happening is a position that makes me feel stressed and unwise. If I talk to anyone that's older than me about regrets, they will almost always tell me that they wish they could have taken more time to enjoy and appreciate the time and people that were part of their lives. Appreciating or being content with the present is a huge step towards peacefulness.

Lastly: Thought. There have been many times where I find myself so busy that It seems like I can't even find a moment to relax. Taking time to just think is unheard of in our day and age. Who just thinks anymore?? I wish I did. As it is, it's rare for me to find myself lost in thought, but the times I do, there's a couple things that help. 1- turn the phone off. Yes. I said it. 2- log out. Facebook, twitter. Clearing my mind of these distractions, even for a few minutes helps me to relax and you know, experience this peacefulness I've been writing about. 3- find a place to just think! A lake, a stump in the woods, my bedroom, someplace quiet. Then, I think about life, think about the people in it, the things that have happened recently. It's these times when I truly experience peace, and I will go even further and say that being in God's word daily helps me to take time to think, reflect, grow, and become a better person than the normal me.

If you're reading this, what helps you experience peace?