Enduring Difficulties: Keys to Finding Peace
By: Camila Cal, SeniorLivingGuide.com
All of us face many obstacles, feats, hardships, and trials in our lifetime. And one of the greatest challenges is figuring out how to find peace and love despite those obstacles. SeniorLivingGuide.com Podcast was joined by Sara Im, author, motivational speaker, and business owner of Smart Healthy Living.
Sara Im is also a survivor of the Cambodia Killing Fields, a mass genocide that claimed around two million lives. She grew up in Cambodia, but when the Khmer Rouge (an extreme communist guerilla group) took over Cambodia, she was forced to face four years of captivity working in rice fields under incredibly harsh conditions. After years of survival, she planned an escape from the camp and managed to reunite with her family, and eventually began a new life in the U.S. Im’s will to survive despite the seemingly impossible odds is incredible and inspiring.
Im shared five key tips on how to contend with life’s greatest challenges while also finding peace and happiness in our everyday lives:
To face any obstacle, you must prepare your mind and heart to be at peace. Im said that if you want to find peace in your life, you have to be ready for it. The best way to do that is to find the things in your life that you are grateful for. Peace and joy will not magically find you when you have a negative outlook.
Im suggested that in the same way trees are pruned to clear out the branches weighing it down, we should all do the same with our hearts and minds. Clear out the darkness, the baggage, and negativity in order to grow. She finds comfort in prayer and spirituality and recommends others to lean into what makes them grateful.
During the most difficult of situations, it is often love for others that will get us through. Focus on the people, never the material. Im said that when she was evacuated, she only thought of the people she loved, not the number of shoes or other material items she was leaving behind. And in turn, she also survived her circumstances by thinking of the people in her life that she yearned to reunite with.
When you fill your heart with people, joy will find you – no matter how hard life situations get. Those people you build relationships with (whether family, significant others, friends, etc.) will be the people that give you the strongest support during challenges. Remember to spend quality time with the people in your life that fill you with happiness. Life may still be hard but being supported by the people that love and care about you makes it much easier.
Perspective can make or break you. To change your perspective, learn to reframe your thoughts and find the good amid the bad. See the glass as half full as often as you can.
It takes practice, but Im believes it is possible to find the positive in anything, which is what got her through some of the worst days. She still practices, too. When she fractured her ankle, she reminded herself that the injury could have been a lost worse. During a bad day, remember how lucky you are to be alive. A bad day does not equal a bad life!
The best way to find peace in between the chaos of life is to count your blessings, Im said. Blessings are everywhere, but we all must stop to pay attention to them. Take stock of the good things in your life. Try keeping a journal and write down positive thoughts and experiences you may have. Or keep a jar and constantly fill it whenever you recognize a blessing. When you’re having a bad day: open the jar, take one out, and remind yourself of the happiness present in your life. Sometimes, all it takes is a boost.
And whenever you can, pay those blessings forward. Be kind to yourself and others. We never know what struggles others may be facing, treat people with kindness. It’s as simple as complimenting someone at the grocery store – you could be making their day and giving them a boost of positivity.
Im also recommended celebrating the past, living fully in the present, and planning for tomorrow. When you think of the past, don’t think of the dark times; instead, celebrate the wins. When she thinks of the Killing Fields, she focuses on the fact that she made it out – she survived. Shifting her mindset and emphasizing her own strength brings her a big sense of peace.
We can find love in our lives everywhere. In our family, friends, people around us, and more. But first, we must open ourselves to accept and reciprocate that love. Im said that love is strong enough to save a life– it saved hers. Her love for her family kept her alive.
But most importantly, remember that loving yourself is important, too. Im posed a question: you are what you think, so why not think well of yourself?
Her parting wish is for you to love yourself. Remember that that you are worthy of love, peace, and kindness – because you are, and always will be.
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