Strsslines: The art of personal peace The art of personal peace December 1, 2002 Regular News Dr. Bernard G. Suran Dictionaries define peace as a state of tranquillity or freedom from agitation. When we are thinking wisely, we define peace as a blessing.Although few of us achieve tranquillity as a permanent state, we cherish our moments of peacefulness as a respite from the stress and pressures that haunt us in our individual searches for the tools that will make our lives better. Infrequently do we consider peace itself as one of the significant tools, let alone the object of the search.In truth, some of us prefer a state of agitation as a more rewarding condition: Being stirred up assures a vibrant existence, even if the vibrancy borders on lunacy. To the unfamiliar, tranquillity may be mistaken for boredom; absence of effort; or, worst of all, a threat.Don’t we all know a few type-As who would implode if ever their lives were peaceful enough to conduct a moment of genuine self-examination? They are well aware of the old Chinese proverb: Those who ride the back of the tiger should be very careful on the dismount. At times, all of us avoid peace because we fear what we might find within ourselves if we allow quiet contemplation to have its due.In a culture that places such premium on achievement and accomplishment, peace remains a confusing possibility. A little here and there might nourish the spirit, but caution warns about too much of a good thing.Many people may appreciate a little less jangle in the nervous system — but not enough to risk losing the edge that maintains position in the rat race. If we unconsciously associate the prospect of a more enduring state of composure with loss of mastery, that prospect will never hold sufficient power to motivate a search adequate to the conquest of obstacles.Peace as Mastery Unlike failing memory and back problems, peace will not find us simply because we grow older, slow down, and outlive our indiscretions and immaturities.It’s not something that happens to us against our will or wishes. Oh, the coffin does that: Rigor mortis beats a quicker path to those who spend their lives rushing down the highway of death without thought of peaceful rest stops. The highway of death? Yes, the ambitiously dutiful, driven, down-and-dirty dynamics of professional life that regard personal growth as an unnecessary luxury. That formula invariably disguises a lack of control even in those who look like gifted controllers. What is less masterful than the inability to manage oneself peacefully when need be?Since growing peaceful is much like taming the whirlwind, finding peace when we need it is likely the highest form of self-mastery.When our lives have been dedicated to higher-gear action, our psychic apparatus keeps on whirring even when we try to shut down the engine. Thus, peace requires a new and unique mastery of the psychic machinery that we rev on a daily basis: Sovereignty of all that we have come to be plus command of how we choose to be in different moments of our lives.Such self-possession enables us to exercise the power of discretion. We refrain and contain without stuffing feelings or blocking affect. We recognize blind alleys without having to travel the maze. We use our experience to inform us about situations as they develop. We make decisions based on the merits rather than impulse, unconscious agendas, or conflicting motivations. We also make decisions about taking action or simply remaining above the fray.Peaceful does not mean chicken hearted. The tiger is peaceful. The tiger’s patience before the pounce creates better decisions about when and if to pounce at all. We will not find peace if we do not learn to choose our battles wisely and infrequently.Where Does it Start? In an inherently adversarial profession, lawyers might contend that any hope for personal peace got flushed when they began counting billable hours with a micrometer.In truth, those who are predictably exposed to intense scrutiny and hot-blooded interactions have an even greater need to develop strategies for cooling off and calming down. Peacefulness is not an event, like locating a calm button in our response repertory. Rather, it must be cultivated as a quality of personhood that overlooks the irrelevant and distinguishes worthy action from the simple whirr of the engine.Serious movement toward peace usually arises in consternation, namely allowing the conflicts and contradictions in our lives to surface undisguised, undenied, and unwanted.We begin the journey toward cultivating an inner calm because we’re able to recognize the fruitlessness of various hassles in our lives. Usually, we cannot find the motivation to reconcile conflicts and contradictions until we have been exposed sufficiently to having conducted ourselves badly as an object lesson in how not to do it.The conflicts between ourselves and others are obvious enough: bruises on the knuckles or the noggin, not to mention the havoc we might wreak for others. For what? A start toward peaceful mind begins by identifying the conflicts that don’t seem necessary; in time, that list might grow. Sometimes, the price of peace requires the termination of hopelessly conflictual relationships. The conflicts within ourselves are more difficult to discern, but they all involve behaving in ways we know to be wrong for us.Living with built-in contradictions between values and behavior is the chief enemy of peace; the best antidote for contradiction is living honestly by being faithful to our needs and beliefs. It’s hard to be peaceful if our lives don’t make sense.The actual techniques for cultivating a spirit of peacefulness are many and varied: deep breathing and relaxation exercises, yoga, meditation, walks in the park, visits to a place of worship. The process of peace is self-fulfilling: When we have found a degree of harmony, we become more aware of making decisions or taking actions that disturb that harmony. The path to greater serenity is rooted in the intention to explore the possibility, rather than living with the unrecognized or untested conviction that “It won’t work for me.” Dr. Bernard G. Suran, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and diplomat and fellow of the Academy of Clinical Psychology and the American Board of Professional Psychology. This column is published under the sponsorship of the Quality of Life and Career Committee. The committee’s Web site is at www.fla-lap.org/qlsm. The Quality of Life and Career Committee, in cooperation with the Florida State University College of Law, also has an interactive listserv titled “The Healthy Lawyer.” Details and subscription information regarding the listserv can be accessed through the committee’s website or by going directly to www.fla-lap.org/qlsm.
Arsene Wenger fires warning to Nicolas Pepe after his slow start at Arsenal Pepe has scored one goal for Arsenal since his £72m move (Getty Images)‘He’s not yet completely adapted and you have to give him some time.AdvertisementAdvertisement‘He looks a little bit to be playing not with the freedom he did in France at the moment.More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man City‘I see some characteristics of his game, especially off the ball, that don’t happen at the moment.‘On the other hand, I must say we have good young players who can play on the flanks, [and] that he will have a fight to keep his position.’More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing Arsenal Metro Sport ReporterTuesday 8 Oct 2019 8:33 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link Arsene Wenger has spoken out on Nicolas Pepe’s slow start at Arsenal (AMA/Getty Images)Arsene Wenger has warned Nicolas Pepe that he risks losing his place at Arsenal if he doesn’t show signs of improvement.The 24-year-old has struggled to make an impact since his £72 million arrival from Lille in the summer, scoring just one goal in 10 appearances for the Gunners.Wenger admits he supports Arsenal’s decision to sign Pepe but feels the winger must start to deliver due to the strong competition for places in Unai Emery’s attack.‘I like the player and I thought it was a good decision [to sign him],’ Wenger told Omnisport.ADVERTISEMENT Comment Advertisement Advertisement
Students and panelists gathered for the semester’s fourth installment of “Students Talk Back: A Politics and Public Policy Forum,” to discuss Russia’s recent efforts to annex the Crimea region of Ukraine and the role of U.S. diplomacy in the conflict. The Students Talk Back series is a semimonthly forum presented in partnership with the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Science’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, the College Democrats, the College Republicans and the Daily Trojan.The theme for the discussion was “The Crisis in Ukraine: Is US/European Diplomacy Enough?”The forum was moderated by Yasmeen Serhan, editorial director of the Daily Trojan, and Kerstyn Olson, interim director of the Unruh Institute.Olson began by stressing the importance of geopolitical issues for students in California who will soon be voting in midterm and national elections.“Given that we are living in a very tried-and-true blue state, I think it’s important — especially in a midterm election year — for USC students to not only think about issues that are of great import to California voters, but what will be important to voters in the so-called swing states,” Olson said. “Foreign policy is, of course, of incredible importance to all voters.”The moderators were joined on the panel by Rod Pacheco, a former state assemblyman and former district attorney of Riverside; Paul Feldman, an assistant foreign editor at the Los Angeles Times, and students Jessica Blakely and Shikhar Gupta.The first topic of discussion dealt with the legality of the Crimean referendum, which, if approved, will potentially allow the Crimea region of Ukraine to become part of Russia.“They don’t have a constitution that allows them to do this,” Pacheco said. “If there was a legal basis for the move, then Putin, Russia et. al. would have offered it, and the fact that they haven’t means they don’t have one.”For Feldman, who has been with the Los Angeles Times for more than three decades, the lack of a legal basis is less important because no one will enforce it.“It’s an issue more about real politics than legal basis, because there is no one that is going to be enforcing legal basis anyways,” he said. “It does appear right now that whatever happens, whoever puts up a fuss about the legal basis part probably is not going to get very far.”Blakely, a senior majoring in international relations and global health, agreed.“Paying attention to what the international law would say might not be one of Putin’s priorities either,” she said.Gupta, a sophomore majoring in international relations, provided some historical background for the audience members less familiar with the crisis.“[Ukraine] has historically been a part of various nations, empires, kingdoms and what not,” he said.Citing the transfer of Crimea to Ukraine by then-First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Kruschev in 1954, Gupta discussed the resulting implication: Nearly 60 percent of Crimeans identify as Russian.Pacheco, however, stressed the importance of Crimea as a military outpost.“This is a very important strategic base for Russia — they have a major naval facility there, it is a warm water port, they can reach any point in the Middle East, anywhere throughout the Mediterranean,” he said. “That was the basis for them invading in the first place under Peter the Great.”While the first half of the discussion focused on questions from the moderators, during the second half, audience members were invited to ask questions of the panelists.Luke Phillips, a sophomore majoring in international relations, commented on the implications of the Ukraine crisis for the future of U.S. foreign policy.“There is going to be a seat change in U.S. politics within the next decade, and I don’t think it’s going to come with a change in the administration,” Phillips said.The next Students Talk Back is Wednesday, March 26, in the Forum at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.