How Human Rights Contribute to Peace

people holding heart together

After a long day at work, many of us have the privilege to go home, take a hot shower, cook dinner, and sleep in a warm bed. For those of us who live a life of relative comfort and have our basic needs met, it can be hard to imagine what life would be like if we weren’t so lucky. What would the day look like without these basic things?

We might sleep outside on the street, hungry or even sick. Things as simple as consistent access to food and shelter are not a given for many people around the world. Without access to basic human rights, feeling at peace is unlikely to happen.

Peaceful people make up a peaceful society, and peaceful societies make up a peaceful world. Since scarcity often leads to conflict, societies that support their citizens by providing them with healthcare, education, food, and shelter, are generally more peaceful and prosperous than those who don’t.

What Is Peace?

Understanding what peace means is essential if we want to understand why it is so important — especially if peace is something we take for granted in our day-to-day lives.

At an International Day of Peace celebration organized by Peace Revolution Cameroon, participants from various countries weighed in with different definitions of peace. The word was defined in many ways, including “the respect for life and fellow human beings” and “freedom from disturbance.”

Peace might mean different things to different people around the globe, but it’s clear that without peaceful individuals, we cannot have a peaceful world.

Most Peaceful Countries

According to 2017 data released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, the United States ranks 114th out of 163 in a list of the world’s most peaceful countries.

“Data highlighted a declining level of trust in the U.S. government, as well as growing social problems such as income inequality, heightened racial tensions and rising homicide rates in several major American cities,” writes Megan Trimble in “The 10 Most Peaceful Countries in the World” to explain why the US ranked so low.

Which country tops the list? According to Trimble’s U.S. News article, it’s Iceland — a place where discrimination is illegal and citizens have access to universal healthcare. Iceland is widely regarded as a leader in human rights. The United States, on the other hand, demonstrates that it values capitalism over the well-being of its citizens. The success of Iceland and the problems in the U.S. clearly show that human rights are deeply linked to peace.

Challenges

There are many barriers to peace in today’s world. The unrest in the United States is a great example of what happens when a country doesn’t protect the basic human rights of its citizens. In the fight for peace, protest signs are as common a sight these days as birds in the sky.

Social workers have defined 12 major challenges that need to be overcome to create a better world. These challenges include making sure that everyone has access to healthcare, helping homeless individuals find dependable and affordable housing and food, and ensuring that all people have equal opportunities to pursue education. Let’s take a closer look at these challenges:

1) Access to Healthcare

In some countries (including the United States), healthcare is a privilege, not a right. Money, location, mobility, and availability can all be barriers to receiving medical care. As the need for chronic care increases, the elderly are especially vulnerable to lack of care.

Discrimination also impacts access to healthcare. Low-income communities often have limited access to healthcare facilities. Given the racial makeup of such areas, this is often a form of discrimination in and of itself. Healthcare providers could discriminate on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, economic class, religion, individuals with pre-existing conditions, and more. In areas where there is a dearth of medical professionals, this lack of choice poses a serious problem for minorities.

2) Access to Food and Shelter

It’s hard to achieve peace of any kind when you are hungry, tired, and don’t know where you’ll sleep at night. Food deserts and lack of affordable and accessible housing options are huge barriers to health and peace worldwide.

3) Access to Education

Education is one of the best ways to improve your personal options for success. But because of money, discrimination, and availability, not everyone has access to education. Oftentimes, lack of education means lack of job opportunities. In turn, that can lead to additional struggles like financial stress and trouble affording food and housing.

Solutions

Healthy bodies and minds are a part of the foundation of peace. Without them, people cannot thrive. So what do we do? To have a peaceful society, we must turn these challenges into solutions.

Positive change can take place in the very sectors that are often barriers, including classrooms, medical buildings, law offices, and social communities. Getting involved in any of these areas is a great way to help create a healthier and a more peaceful world.


This is a collaborative post supporting our Peace In Peace Out initiative.

Connecting to Inner Peace Through Victoria Falls

Water-spraying happiness at Victoria Falls Africa

As a global traveller, when I reach a destination that ignites my happiness, a rush of inner peace sweeps over me.

Such a place is the top of Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border in Africa.  In the dry season, you can literally stand on the edge and watch water from the Zambezi River fall over a 355-foot (108 meter) drop.  Locals call this spectacular location, Mosi-oa-Tunya, the smoke that thunders.

The sound you hear does seem to be thunder.  Roaring, splashing, flying thunder.  From your spot of seasonally uncovered dry land you can look down  over the edge of the falls into the plunging pools of water below.  When you descend over the edge, the roar and rush of the water chases you in its continuous descent.  If the soaking does not wake you up, the power of the drop should.

But more than the immediate sound of the water is the overwhelming sense of peace you feel when you stand on the edge of a plunging waterfall, and experience excitement, not fear.  If you automatically, spontaneously embrace where you are, without distraction and excuse, you may suddenly realize the feeling you experience is a connection to your own soul.

At a spot like Victoria Falls when you find yourself closing your eyes to listen to the water, instead of activating your selfie-stick, your own state of well-being is in charge of your actions.  You may not even notice when this happens.  It could be when you are walking away from the scene and exclaim “I forgot to take pictures,” (and then quickly run back for more).

Travel and surprise experiences provide you with the opportunity to grasp a singular time when you are drawn forward to appreciate contentment.  You do not have to travel to Africa to capture this moment in your happiness.  You can find this connection simply by understanding that you are entitled to have it.  As you go through your own life and feel content to be helping a friend, or blessed to laugh with a child, when you, as the saying goes, ‘stop to smell the roses,’ you bring yourself back to you, every time.

Happiness is a state most people have to consciously bring forward.  Our society does not look kindly to the perpetually happy.  If you were to go around proclaiming your constant contentment to all who would listen, people may soon become suspicious of you. They will want to know if you are up to something.  But you can be happy if you so choose, if you remember that it is expected for your healthy life.

To be happy is to know the sound of inner peace.  Roaring louder than the cascading waters at Victoria Falls.  Once you connect, you can achieve your internal harmony.  Here are some suggestions to enhance your life wisdom for being happy:

1. Recognize your right to be happy.  Feel fabulous without feeling guilty. Our society focuses on the suffering and difficulties of life.  You will attract words of sympathy and support for any particular difficult personal issue that you may wish to discuss, but you may not receive any applause for being continuously happy.  You have to embrace the feeling for yourself.  Happiness is a choice you can make for yourself by deciding how you want to live.

2. Set a cheerful outcome for your everyday life.  As you go about your day to day, reset your mood.  Maybe the traffic appears to move slower than normal, the kids are shouting louder than usual, the groceries and shopping need to be done, your tasks at work appear to be piling up – take a moment, at least one, to find the other side of the situation.

The slow commute may mean you can listen longer to your favorite podcast.  The shouting children may indicate they are communicating instead of staring at their smartphones.  The waiting chores will give you a chance to get parts of the house in order. The tasks in the office showcase the demand for your skills.

Find the other side as soon as you feel stressed out or slowed down, and turn those moments around to suit your purposes.

3.  Hold the happiness mindset as your signature.  Do you have one of those friends who people say is ‘always’ happy?  Should that person be you?   Even if everyone you know finds your insistence on being content to be annoying, hold on to your right to be happy.  In a society embroiled in negative agendas, make yours the opposite.  You may soon find that your insistence rubs off on many more people than it repels.

You can ensure that being happy is built into your self development.  Implement these three steps, and soon you may find that every moment becomes a moment of joy, and support for your inner peace.

Photo source: otsuka88 on Pixabay.com

5 Hacks for a Happy Life

When was the last time you observed the beauty of the tree next to your house? Or plants in your lawn with those lovely colours and incredible flowers? Or how long has it been when you watched the sunrise or sunset with a cup of tea without any stress or tension about what you need to do next?

In our everyday life, we are blessed with nature’s miracle and great opportunities to stay happy, yet most of us tend to ignore them in a mad rush of ever changing professional achievements, assignments, pending bills, hours of wait in daily’s traffic and what not. There is an old saying in Sanskrit, which could be translated into “life is happy and joyful when you take it slowly and have time to do nothing”.

With thousands of years of struggle and tendency of fighting for survival, the human brain enjoys the adrenaline rush, which has become a new normal for our brain instead of being relaxed, calm and content. However, most of the scientific and ancient text concludes that our brain is most efficient and productive, when it stays in its natural state, which is being calm, clear and tranquil.

Here are some simple hacks to stay happy and enjoy the beauty of the world around us.

1) Social connection

Humans are designed to live in society and having people around them. Our lifestyle has a huge impact on physical and mental development. Social cohesion has a positive impact on our longevity and happiness. The Ted Talk by Susan Pinker, a developmental psychologist reveals how in-person social interactions are not only necessary for human happiness but also could be a key to health and longevity. Hence, our happiness greatly depends on quality and quantity of time spent with others.

2) Being generous

Generosity is one of the basic human characters and by default, we all feel happy while doing a simple act of kindness and generosity. An experimental study by researchers at the University of Zurich explored the connection between generosity and happiness, providing behavioural and neural evidence that supports the link between generosity and happiness. So, believe it or not, you feel happy when making the decision to give.

3) Practicing gratitude

Saying thank you is one of the simplest ways to make someone happy. The small doses of gratitude have huge impact on chemical reaction in our brains and they make us happier and more joyful. We have a lot to be grateful for in our lives, starting from having a good meal, being healthy, waking up smiling for another day, being surrounded by good friends, family and a lot more. So, if you want to be happy, start expressing your gratitude to them.  Want to know more about science behind it? Check this Harvard medical school publication on a research done by two psychologists.

4) Power of mindfulness

Sitting idly, trying to relax, doing nothing and focusing on one thought at a time. This is the key to happiness. Huge amount of ancient text from Eastern world says that happiness depends on ourselves, and a practice of mindfulness is one way to ensure it.  Several scientific studies have shown that meditation increases grey matter of the brain. In simple terms, meditation helps grow the happy mind. It is the best stress buster available for free. Moreover, researchers have found out that with regular mediation, brain tends to have noticeably thicker tissue in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for attention and control functions of the brain.

Excited? Give a try with Peace Revolution’s 42 days online self-development meditation program for free!

5) Spend time with nature and stay physically active

Nature has a power to rejuvenate us quickly with full of positive energy. Results showed that those who have done 30 minutes of light exercise including jogging in forests had significantly lower heart rates, they were more relaxed and had less cortisol level leading to less stress and anxiety and better moods than others. The researchers concluded that there’s something about being in the nature that had a beneficial effect on stress reduction. For instance, researchers from Stanford University found that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination, as well as more positive emotions in comparison to the urban walkers. They also improved their memory, creativity and liveliness.

Lastly, although it comes from our modern lifestyle, staying away from phone and computer for a day in a week and focusing on building a connection with you own self is another way to make yourself happy and relaxed.

Photo credits for featured image:  Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Kuldeep Singh can be reached out at twitter @Kuldeep_lko

 

How to Balance? A Passage to a Happy, Prosperous and Fulfilling Life

One of the important things in life is the ability to balance it, to maintain life activities in all its different facets and levels. So often, happiness is neutralized and swiped away. It is not because we as humans cannot be happy alone; it is because of our day to day routines and how we manage our work and private life activities. In as much as work-life balance is important towards a happy life, it is often that one of these have played second fiddle to the other, making life so difficult and unmanageable for many.

In general, work-life balance essentially refers to a meaningful daily achievement and enjoyment in each of the four life quadrants that include family, work, friends and most importantly the strength and conviction of the self. A balanced life is one where we spread our energy and effort – emotional, intellectual, imaginative, spiritual and physical – into all areas of our life and ignite consistent commitment, focus and willpower in achieving that. Sharing is a healthy ingredient to happiness, and below is a list of some of the key areas recommended to focus on for living a happy, prosperous and fulfilling life:

1) Time management
Time management is the opium of a balanced life. Every minute used or lost is never retained back in our lives. It is the time that allows us to balance and help us utilise every minute we enjoy on this earth. Time management, though difficult, is the only way that one can be able to gauge and evaluate their commitment to all the important aspects and commitments that life offers. It is through time that we are able to set our priorities right and manage situations of, for example, greater time being devoted to professional development at the expense of family and relationships or other life aspects, among them the spiritual life, as well as body care and health.

2) Goal setting
It is quiet certain that we can never know where we are going if we do not know where we are and how far we want to go from the current position of locus. Life without goals is like a vehicle without fuel, it will never move no matter how important the journey may be. It is through goal setting that we are able to know how far we want to go, at what pace and utilising what resources. When we go to work, we must be able to set the goal of why we commit our time towards that and how much time we would want to commit. It is that relationship between goal setting and time management that can help balance between life and work and other related facets of decent and dignified lifestyle.

3) Habit and willpower development
In life, there is no sweet without sweat. If we are willing to give, that is the only way we can get something; moreover, if we are to give without expectation for the favour to be returned, happiness and contentment is guaranteed. What is most important though is that work-life balance is very much connected to habit development: how much committed and willing we are to let go bad habits and work harder towards accumulating good habits.

Life will deliver the value and balance that we desire when we are committed to achieving and enjoying something every single day as it comes in absolutely every aspect of humanity. The integration between one’s professional life and personal life is achievable if one is willing to lose some of the old habits and be equally mindful to live in the moment and accumulate routines that are positive and balanced in accommodation of all life facets. It is painful, time consuming but worthy committing towards. It is the willpower that is required in achieving it, and the willpower is the work of a clear and focused mind.

4) Self-development

One of the products of an imbalanced lifestyle is continued stress and unhappiness. Have you ever wondered why those seemingly successful business and professional people are always stressed and somewhat unhappy? The majority of people spend the greater part of their lives searching for success and trying to be better and more outstanding in a highly competitive modern world. Happiness comes from within, hence self-development and living in the moment are important to achieve a happy life. It is through a clear, focused mind that one can be content and closer to living an easy and simple life, inclusive of all facets, such as the financial, professional, family, physical and other related life aspects.

Be content and balance your life

A balanced, calm and modest life brings more happiness than the constant pursuit of success combined by constant restlessness. One of the most brilliant minds said that a peaceful mind and a peaceful life are the key to happiness. Let’s embrace a calm and modest way of a balanced life by living in the moment, taking one step at a time and moving each day as it passes!

How To Program Your Mind For Success?

Our time and energy in this life is limited. A person can spend a great deal of time worrying and doubting, especially when feeling stuck. This way, one would end up wasting a lot of time, often not realizing that the solution is to channel the willpower, to start with one thing, then slowly build it up. How to make sure that the time we spend here is not wasted? A lot depends on how we program our mind and what we feed our mind with. Here are some techniques to help you.

1) Check your habits

What we feed our mind is what creates the patterns according to which we operate; it determines the life and passion that we experience at each given moment. This leads us to the rate of success and happiness that we enjoy through our life.

In order to take control of this, we need to start by checking our habits. Are they taking us to the path of success and happiness? Let’s remember, that though we are endowed with the awareness to feel the weight of negative patterns, we also have the ability to rise and make our dreams come true by putting a conscious effort into patterns that we are creating. Ask yourself: how can I nourish myself in the next hour, in the next day so that I build the life I want and deserve?

2) Visualize success

Visualisation is a powerful technique that allows to picture and project ourselves where we wish to be to the greatest detail. We can grasp that feeling, use the energy we get from it to make it happen.

Make a conscious choice to give yourself time out. Walk in nature, cherish the moments that give an opportunity to disconnect from everything that is distracting and preventing you to be completely honest with yourself. Create your own rituals to start and end the day. Make time for meditation as often as you can. As you work with your willpower and attention, especially in meditation, you will notice the length of time, attention and concentration varying. As time expands, you will come to a point where you can feel comfortable and enjoy  longer practice sessions which give you the chance to sink in and touch the depths of what visualisation has to offer.

3) Be bold and imagine your own funeral

A bold exercise is to imagine your own funeral. Imagine walking into a room. Inside the room are your friends and family. And as you walk into the room, you see a box. You realise that you are in the box and it’s the day of your funeral. What kind of things do you want people to remember about the life you lived, about the kind of person you were, about the things you did and the way you made them feel when they were around you?

4) Empower your thoughts

You have the power to take control over your thoughts. Use the energy you save here for doing good. Replace the negative thoughts with those that support you. No one can do it for you, you are alone in this. Start to move towards your goal: visualise it, imagine it happening, feel it happening right now. Get clear on what you want to see happening and your life will change. You are worth it! A happy life is not an accident, and you can make it happen.

Whenever you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself or your plans and abilities, replace it with something wholesome.

5) Dig into yourself

Everyone has the opportunity, the right and the obligation to be happy.  What do you love doing? What can you do about it? Where are the people with similar ideas?

We are versions of many possibilities. And definitely more than the sum of our thoughts. Be aware of what the mind is telling you and ask yourself if it helps you become the person you want to be.

Conclusion

Every day is a new chance. You can get your mind to figure out where you want to be, what you need to do to achieve it, why it means something for you and then program your mind to do it. It is often that what you’ve been postponing  to do is the place where to start, the game changer. The one that can break the rut. The one that helps you start the day with fresh energy. You can program your mind for success.

“Owning your story and loving yourself through that process is the bravest thing that you’ll ever do.” (Brené Brown)

  • To learn more about visualising your own funeral see Michael Gerber The E-Myth Revisited
  • Photo credits: Vasilios Muselimis@unsplash

Plan Your Happiness

Do you think it is possible to plan your happiness? Let’s see.

There are some things we can do to make sure we are as happy as possible. This is mostly about our self development, inner work and attitudes. There are also some things out of our control – such as natural disasters, actions of people around us, and to a certain degree – political and social situation. This is mostly about outer things. If we assume that we cannot change outer circumstances, but we are in charge of our inner harmony and peace, we can start a totally new path.

On our path of self love and self acceptance, we do not concentrate on blame, shame, guilt and judgements anymore. Yes, I was born into this family where I was taught bad habits, yes, I live in a country where everyone is drinking, but I cannot do too about it if I start complaining. Instead, I will become in charge of my actions through my words and thoughts. I will change my habits through changing my behaviours and emotions, and I will be in charge of my own happiness to the degree to which it is possible.

So, how exactly do we plan happiness?

1. Make a powerful intention

If you want a new incredible lifestyle, you will have to do things you have never done before. This may be tough, and your habits and lack of motivation may start dragging you back into your old daily routine.

A possible intention may be:

  •  I will meditate every morning.
  • I will practice yoga every morning.
  • I will do a good deed – something for a person who could not do this to themselves – every day.
  • I will smile to those who frown in the streets.
  • I will hug ten friends daily.

Your intention can be about anything, but make sure you believe in what you do and you know it will make you happier. Once the intention is made, never question it again. At least for a year.

2. Choose your power-word that will support you every day. What is it that you need from life the most at the moment? Here is a list of example power-words, or you may choose your own too.

Live. Focus. Health. Purpose. Compassion. Stability. Kindness. Celebration. Confidence. Peace. Mindfulness. Change. Positive. Grace. Consistency. Commitment. Hope. Trust. Courage. Presence. Patience. Meditation. Believe. Be. Freedom. Healing. Self-love. Extraordinary. Action. Routine. Adventure. Integrity. Positivity. Fearless. Work. Growth. Discipline. Listen. Balance. Intention. School. Original. Magic. Harmony. Dedication. Dream. Giving. Calm. Awaken. Faith. Joyful. Equanimity. Accomplish. Gentleman. Partnership. Effort. Persistence. Communication. Alive. Inspire. Passion. Ritual. Learn. Acceptance. Actualize. Playfulness. Aware. Union. Flow. Respect. Intention. Frugal. Social. Wellbeing. Tend. Risk. Travel. Productivity. Complete. Friends. Control. Strength. Fruition. Congruence. Impact. Determined. Resilience. Explore. Art. Bravery.

3. Make a list of activities that make you happy

For someone it may be skiing, for another – it is writing. Once you have written your list, plan to do at least one of these activities regularly and at least one exciting activity each month.

While writing this article I have drafted my Happiness boost year plan and I share it as an example.

To do regularly: find time for writing every week

To do monthly:

July – ride a water zorb

August – ride a hot air balloon

September – go to a meditation retreat

October – practice yoga every day

November – learn how to make chocolate

December – study a new language

Remember – no matter what you do, even the smallest things – everything you read, hear, see, smell and taste – remain in your subconscious memory. Everything you encounter in your daily life constitutes who you are, and it is good to make such resolutions to empower yourself.

Remember – when you make an intention, may it be strong and full of inner responsibility. It is you in charge of your life, and with your power of choice you can always always make it better.

To Be Happy Here and Now

New shining dress, new job promotion, vacations in Malaysia… Do you often catch yourself thinking that you need to achieve something, become someone or go somewhere to be happy? How about being happy here and now with something that you already have? Is it possible? Join us in the SEE Peace Summit in Tirana, Albania from December 15 to 18, and together with young leaders from all over Europe we will explore tools for self-sustaining happiness and personal development.

Many people are frustrated looking for lasting happiness and thinking that things such as abundance of possessions, co-dependent relationships and the acceptance of others will help them reach their goals. SEE Peace Summit wants to introduce meditation techniques as a new way of positively affecting individuals’ habits and transforming their life, thus refocusing all of our personal priorities from an outward search to an inward quest.

With personal development as one of the thematic areas, the summit will also explore sub-themes such as mindfulness, art and meditation, as well as stress management in order to better understand how to keep a peaceful mind while coping with daily life challenges; how to move towards one’s goals in a peaceful manner, not forgetting the gratitude and happiness for the present moment.

During the SEE Peace Summit, different speakers will be giving workshops to help discover various aspects on personal development. For instance, Vesna Laković, Mindfulness Trainer and Education Coordinator at Familylab Serbia will be leading workshops on how to embrace difficult emotions with mindfulness. Participants will learn to recognize, understand and accept their different emotions, especially the unpleasant ones. Meanwhile, Peace Educator Manuela Puscas will deliver a workshop on how to become aware of our inner conflicts and have practical tools that help in dealing with them.

Apart from trainers and speakers, the SEE Peace summit will feature two Thai Buddhist monks – Venerable John Paramai Dhanissaro and Venerable Pasura Dhantamano – who will not only guide meditation sessions and give lectures, but offer a unique opportunity to have a one-to-one or a group conversation in the Meditation Clinic.

The SEE Peace Summit is organized by the World Peace Initiative Foundation (WPI), an international organization that promotes the culture of peace in the world through a practice of meditation and mindfulness. The summit aims to bring together young people from all over Europe, offering them a space to exchange experiences and create ideas for improving themselves and their communities back home.

Apply for the SEE Peace Summit here.