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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

8 Ways to Stay Centered in a Mad, Mad World

By Christina Katz

What the world needs now is peace, sweet peace. As families, it’s time to activate our potential as peacekeepers. Here are eight ideas to get you started.

1. Guard against media overload. Monitor family media exposure, especially during times of scary news broadcasts or upsetting continual updates. Turn off televisions and radios when children are around. Get kids off the Internet and away from hand-held devices. Silence your cell phone notifications. Tumultuous times are a good opportunity to revert to old-fashioned fun, such as reading a book, playing a board game, or going for a family walk.

2. Cultivate family peace practices. When my daughter is upset or agitated, her go-to calming activity is a nice warm shower or bath. Find practices that work for each family member. One child may prefer to read a book while another may wish to do something physical to get grounded.

3. Process disappointments as they happen. Your child may experience a loss, and you may not be aware of it. My daughter seemed to be displaying uncharacteristic behavior until I was able to trace the source of it back to a recent disappointment she’d experienced at school. We often cajole our kids to “be a good sport” without giving them a chance to fully express their feelings. In this case, I was able to seek out some feedback and closure from the teacher involved in the incident. My daughter had a little cry, admitted that she was more disappointed than she had let on, and was back to her old cheerful self within a few hours.

4. Bless people in crisis. Peacefulness is contagious. Beam peace at agitated people you encounter. On little pieces of paper, write down positive words and the names of people you’d like to bless and then place the pieces of paper in a “peace box” of your own creation. If faraway folks you love are suffering, light a candle for them. Send positive thoughts, a prayer, or a wish for all good things across the miles. Imagine your good intentions spraying out into the world like a giant fountain. Positivity makes a difference, especially for those who share it.

5. Make a small difference. Keep a coin jar out and fill it with loose change. When a crisis occurs, make a donation to support intervention. On an ongoing basis, give what you can to help those in need in your community. Share leftover pantry items with your local food bank, and old clothes and belongings with non-profit thrift shops. Feel good about steadily being part of the solution.

6. Spread joy. Refuse to give in to cynicism. Put a positive bumper sticker on your car. Put out a colorful flag in your yard. Decorate your environment with the word “peace” and other objects that symbolize joyfulness. Have at least one reminder of world peace in each room of your home. Inspirational quotes glimpsed on the way out the door can inspire family members to new heights of understanding each and every day.

7. Memorialize losses. Never brush off grief, yours or anyone else’s. Unexpressed grief is like a ticking time bomb driving people to act out in ways they might not otherwise. Take a look back at major losses in your family (and even your childhood) and ask yourself if you have adequately acknowledged your suffering. Ask your spouse the same question. Then ask your kids. Make sure you are not trying to protect your kids from feelings of loss that are a natural part of being human. Come up with creative ways to commemorate major family losses, and you will help your loved ones move through their feelings and move on.

8. Live in today. Anxiety is the result of focusing on the past or the future at the expense of the present moment. We can’t control what happened yesterday, and we are not at fault for things beyond our control out in the world. However, home base can always be an oasis of calm, cool collectedness. 

Author, journalist, and writing coach Christina Katz and her family often discuss how to detach with love from local and global dramas.