Creating Peace This Year, Easier Said Than Done?

Tell Me More asked listeners how they are hoping to bring peace into their lives in 2013. From cutting up credit cards to cleaning up friendships, life coach Gail Blanke says even small changes add up. Guest host Celeste Headlee asks Blanke for some tips on creating a peaceful year.

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

And now a different take on the holiday season and those New Year's resolutions many of you made. A little help in tackling them for you. We recently spoke with gospel singer Vicki Yohe, who told us a funny story about using the new year to bring more peace into her life. Here's what she said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VICKI YOHE: I thank God for peace. I always tell people, you know, a lot of people in your world don't want you to have peace. You've got to separate yourself from those people that want to torment you.

Last year I changed my voice mail. I said hello, this is Vicki Yohe. It's January 1, 2012. I'm making some changes in my life. If I don't return your phone call, you are one of the changes.

HEADLEE: Well, that story inspired us to ask you, our listeners, about the decisions you make to bring peace to your life this year. We heard from you on Twitter at hash tag #TMM Peace and on Facebook as well, and now we've asked life coach Gail Blanke to look through your resolutions. She's author of the book "Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life," and she joins us from time to time to help us clean out our lives.

Welcome back to the program, Gail. Happy New Year.

GAIL BLANKE: Thanks. I'm so happy to be with you, Celeste.

HEADLEE: And before we get to some of our listeners' resolutions, why do you think it is important to focus on finding peace?

BLANKE: Well, you know, I was just thinking that, you know, Webster defines peace as a sense of calm and tranquility, free of anxiety, a state of order, and this is one of the parts of the definition I like - a feeling of being in control. But, boy, we live in kind of an out of control world, don't we? I mean, so the question is, how do we take control?

I mean, there are - it's true. There are some things that are outside of our control, hard things, wrong things, bad things happen. I saw the other day, Michael J. Fox - he's such a wonderful guy. He was interviewed on CNN and he said, I have Parkinson's. It is what it is. Everything else I get to decide. And so I think taking control is a lot about deciding. So what are we going to decide as we step into a brand new, never before touched, totally wide open year? I mean, you know, you have to wait another 12 months to get another shot like this.

HEADLEE: Yeah. And, you know, Gail, many of our listeners actually did exactly what you're talking about. Their resolutions involved some kind of control. Here's one listener who tweeted us. Take a listen.

KARA QUENNIE: My name is Kara Quennie(ph) from Chicago, Illinois, and I plan to bring more peace into my life by forgiving those who hurt me. 2013 is a year of supernatural blessing and I refuse to let resentfulness and unforgiveness block my blessings.

HEADLEE: So we often think of New Year's resolutions as something physical. We're going to clean the house. We're going to go to the gym more. But she's talking about something that's about - emotional, that's mental.

BLANKE: Well, I think this is the perfect time of year to let go of some of the emotional burdens that we've - you know, it's like a straightjacket we've been wearing and she's - it's so wonderful that she's going to be letting go of those feelings of being hurt by others and probably blaming them, and now she's going to forgive them.

One of the things we have to remember - and there are probably a lot of people out there who could make a similar decision - is situations like this are usually not about you. They're about the other person, something that's going on with them, not something that's inadequate about you. So one of the things we want to leave behind is making - even bothering to make them wrong. You know, let go of your resentment towards them. This is about freedom and just let it go and free yourself up to get into the good stuff of a brand new year.

HEADLEE: OK. So here's another resolution from another listener. This is Nolu Crockett Utunga(ph), and Nolu tweeted this, quote: I decided, after being laid off three times in five years, to start a business. So there's someone literally out of control before, in terms of her employment, taking control.

BLANKE: She - I mean talk about courage. It's just spectacular. More women are starting businesses than ever before. The first book I ever wrote was called "Taking Control of Your Life." It was about successful women business owners, and this is one of the most exciting moments of her life. And one of the things that might help her is to take a look for a moment at the past. Take a look at her defining moments of the past, those moments when she pulled it out of the fire, you know, when she made something great happen, when she won something. Take a look at those moments when she made a tough decision and it worked out, and you can - you add up those moments. I ask everybody I work with to do that at the beginning of every new year, and you think, boy, if I could do that, what else could I do? And it gives you the courage to step into a new situation, a wonderful new challenge, with optimism, and that's really what's so important right now, is optimism.

HEADLEE: That's a big risk. Well, let's play one more resolution that we got from a listener. Take a listen.

CARA MODISETT: My name is Cara Modisett. I am in Roanoke, Virginia and I plan to bring more peace into my life this year by paying more attention to the rests between the notes, to borrow from the language of music. Breathe, do yoga, make time for the people and things that matter the most.

HEADLEE: And, you know, Gail, we had a number of listeners suggest some version of this. Take time to relax, put away their cell phones, stop going on Twitter. One person said he resolved to turn off his phone vibrations. So any tips on actually doing what she's talking about, relaxing more, taking more time?

BLANKE: Well, I love the whole idea of the rests between notes. There are great composers and musicians who will say that that's really where the magic is. And I think we all need to let go in that way. We don't have to be everybody's everything every moment of every day. We can turn it off. That's when the reinvention begins. That's when we assimilate. That's when we reimagine our lives and - hey, listen, some people might be annoyed that we're not, you know, available every second of every day, but you know, you've got to remember that wonderful saying that advertising people have, and that is if enough people love you, the ones who don't don't matter.

HEADLEE: There you go.

BLANKE: You know, whether you're Donald Trump or Speaker Boehner, so...

(LAUGHTER)

HEADLEE: I make no comment...

BLANKE: So let it go.

HEADLEE: ...to that, Gail. Let's Gail Blanke, life coach, author of the book "Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life." She joined us from New England Public Radio in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Thanks as always, Gail, and Happy New Year.

BLANKE: Thanks so much. Same to you.

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