Protect Your Peace

I was in the store the other day when all of a sudden, the sounds became prominent over everything else. Like a movie, I became absorbed into the scene where my sense of hearing was amplified. Carts were squeaking, people were talking, something fell to the ground and made a glass breaking sound, cell phones were ringing, and a child was crying. The child was not just crying, he or she was wailing. The more I listened, the more I couldn’t help but feel that this child was trying to tell someone something. It became clear that this child’s peace was interrupted. While this child needed to shout his or her concerns to the mountain top, this little one’s communication was by way of crying.

Just thinking about this month’s focus, “Protecting Your Peace,” my memory began scanning MY life. Thinking about the concept is both easy and difficult based on the mixed messages we receive constantly. What does it mean to “protect your peace?” I’m not sure; I think it is different for everyone. But what I do know, the child in the store was not peaceful.

Conceivably, protecting your peace begins with looking at what is negatively affecting your soul. With the example of the child in the store, it became apparent that this child was too young to know how to protect his/her peace; the duty depended solely on the shoulders of the parent.

When I got married at a young age of 19, my life took me to Arizona. While living there, my spouse worked on his education, while I became a mom. The one thing we did not expect before he graduated was bringing not just one child into the world during this time, but two. When I found out I was expecting, I was scared but full of joy. While we had no idea how we were going to afford a child, we chose to sacrifice our wants to make it happen. I made the cautious effort make sure this child and our family became my priority.

Was I setting a boundary to protect my peace? Absolutely. I deliberately chose to establish clear boundaries in my personal and professional life. I prioritized and made the conscious effort and dedication in making sure our child had the proper food, sleep, play and love; all things necessary for her developmental age. I guess, while I was defending my peace, I was modeling the behavior of a peaceful life and protecting her peace at the same time. I took the deliberate action to create a calm and balanced life.

I fast forward to today. Watching my children raise their children, the contrast of the two eras is stark. I think my job was much easier. I was able to help develop and protect my children’s moral development without the constant impact of technology. I think the damaging effects of technology and media has reached its tentacles into every waking moment of our lives; affecting our morals and values, which ultimately hurts our peace of mind.

Let me take a minute here to talk a bit about moral development. Learning about it while studying psychology was fascinating. Basically, the theory of moral development outlines how individuals evolve in their moral reasoning and ethical behavior throughout their lives. Kohlberg’s theory is articulated through “a progression of stages, starting from an emphasis on obedience to avoid punishment, advancing towards an understanding of social order, and culminating in the recognition of universal ethical principles and the value of human rights.” Basically, children get to a place of becoming a moral upstanding citizen morally because it is the correct and right thing to do, not because they fear punishment or get a reward for following the rules and laws.

I believe that a sound moral compass and peace work hand in hand. However, due to the constant damaging effects of media (both types, news and social), our values become provoked. While media provides valuable information, entertainment, and social connectivity, excessive or inappropriate media consumption can lead to damaging effects. The negative impacts are real and research is beginning to show the negative effects on adults, and especially children.

Adults can experience increased stress and anxiety, sleep disturbances, reduced attention span,
mental health issues, decreased productivity, distorted reality perceptions, and impacts on relationships. Children can experience impaired cognitive development, behavioral issues, poor academic performance, physical health problems, sleep disturbances, emotional impacts, shortened attention span and commercialization and materialism issues.

Holy crap, people – talk about a global pandemic! Turn off the technology and go outside into nature! It is our responsibility and obligation to model behavior for our youth, protect their peace, and emulate a good moral compass. We have an ethical responsibility while our children’s brains are developing to consider a balanced approach that includes:

  • Open Communication: Foster an environment where children feel comfortable discussing their online experiences.
  • Model Behavior: Demonstrate healthy social media habits for children to emulate. Consider no social media until adulthood.
  • Supervised Only Access: Allow supervised and limited access to social media, gradually increasing independence as children mature.
  • Educational Programs: Advocate for schools to include digital literacy and online safety in their curricula.

I digressed a bit here, but I truly believe that social media’s addictive nature and the potential benefits of restricting discussions for children under a certain age are important issues to consider. It is our responsibility to protect our young minds.

Peace of mind requires intentional actions and habits. Consider prioritizing mental and physical well-being, setting healthy boundaries, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and joy. The result is a more balanced and fulfilling life. Taking these steps not only protects your peace, it sets a great road map for our young children. Just think about the positive impact this will have on your relationships with others as well, something our world desperately needs.

So, turn off technology, go outside, and explore the world in front of you. The inner peace you protect will contribute to your overall happiness and satisfaction.