1. Peace starts with you. Educate Yourself.
If you live in your own insular world where you never consider others or others' ideas, you are likely to encounter conflict when you are faced with a point of view different from yours. Venture outside of your comfort zone. Visit other countries, read about other points of view, accept that we are all the same yet different. This weekend I went to Paperback Book X-Change in Miami and picked up the following books. (Click images to view descriptions/reviews.)
I'm not saying all of these books are going to be masterpieces, nor am I saying that you should only read one type of book. I think reading a variety of books and having a variety of experiences expands our minds and makes us more sensitive to others, leading to both internal and external peace. What is something you have done or could do to educate yourself?
2. Lead by Example. Help educate others.
We can help spread peace by sharing what we learn with others, not in a know-it-all kind of way, but gently and humbly. Have you ever considered doing volunteer work? You might be surprised how sharing something you know lessens conflict and brings you unexpected benefits. For several years I've been teaching free English classes to strangers, who have now become friends. Not only did they learn English, I learned about other countries and cultures, became bilingual and am extremely close to becoming trilingual. My heart is filled with the love of people I probably never would have known otherwise. Part of leading by example involves staying calm during the difficult times and addressing conflict in an understanding and peaceful way. Radiate the peace you would like to see in the world and others will likely follow suit.
3. Be generous.
It's easy to find a reason not to share. You want to keep limited resources for yourself, you're skeptical of a cause, you're too busy, too poor, hope someone else will help, etc. Skip the excuses. Altruism makes those we help feel happier and helps us feel happier. Start small and work your way up to bigger gestures of altruism. No matter how many problems you have, if you have the resources to be reading this post, you probably have 5 or 10 minutes or a few dollars to contribute to a worthy cause.
Too many of us sit by, merely watching injustices happen. The best advice on this topic comes from Ghandi, who is quoted as having said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” Stand up for something you believe in, but as you do so, practice tolerance and compromise. Be a voice against hate, discrimination and violence.
5. Want/need/consume less.
Whether or not you agree about global warming, the fact of the matter is that if you use too many resources, there are fewer resources for others both now and in the future. You simplify your own life, preserve the environment and leave more for others by reducing what you use. I have started walking or riding the bus whenever possible as part of this goal. As you embark on this step, you'll learn a lot about yourself, what your really need, and you'll learn about the experiences you've been missing if you rely too much on material possessions.
6. Strive for the impossible.
What goal could you achieve if you stopped living on excuses and used all of your energy to reach that goal? If you think about anyone who really changed the world, that person probably did something that at first glance would have seemed impossible. We each have the potential to do something amazing with our limited time. What will you do?