Inner Peace In An Uncertain Life
by Robin L. Silverman
In 1997, a disastrous flood swept through our region
and changed our lives forever. As we sought to rebuild
our homes, restart our businesses and reestablish our
schools and houses of worship, there was only one thing
we knew: We couldn't count on anything. The river's
moods remained uncertain. The Army Corps of Engineers
couldn't decide where to build a permanent dike. The
city wasn't sure whose damaged property would be bought
out. Friends and family were trying to figure out
whether they wanted to go or stay. It was a situation
similar to when you receive a devastating diagnosis or
your spouse walks out on you—your knees buckle, your
heart skips too many beats, and your brain goes numb.
That's when I went looking for what would create an
unshakable core of inner peace. When all bets were off,
I wanted one sure thing that would guarantee a happy
ending to a crazy nightmare. I wanted it for myself, but
just as much, I wanted it for all the people I knew who
had struggled with life's curveballs. I could live
without my house, my job or running water for a while.
But without peace, life would feel more threatening than
thrilling; more empty than full.
I started to find peace in the hundreds of emails,
phone calls and faxes that were coming in from good
people everywhere who wanted to help. It was in the
essence of their stories and messages. Although few had
ever survived a flood, all had experienced "natural
disasters" of one kind or another. I cried as I
read stories of absolute, complete surrender and roared
with tales of the impossible made real. They talked of
seeing the beauty in others, taking a first step towards
something that would be fun or reinventing a new role
for themselves. I posted the essence of these stories on
my computer, and in time, I could see that we all have
Everyone has the Ten Gifts
The gifts are natural wonders common to every man,
woman and child on this planet. They can be used to help
us escape trouble or create amazing new opportunities.
Regardless of why we use our gifts, what we get is what
we need when the past is gone and the future is unclear:
Inner peace. Working with this peace, things have turned
out better for me and others than any of thought
possible. Those who have ignored them have, more often
than not, gotten stuck in a quicksand of frustration,
disappointment and bitterness.
The Ten Gifts have familiar names, although the
definitions are new. The first two help us shake off our
fear of punishment or rejection, so we can move forward.
The first is Faith, which no longer means, "Be
patient." Using the gift of Faith offers an
immediate payback, as it asks the question: "What
problem or opportunity can I surrender to God?" The
gift of Love follows, now much larger than a simple rush
of feeling for another. It asks, "What beauty do I
see in this person before me?" During the flood,
tens of thousands of people either lived with or were
fed or helped by total strangers. Without the gift of
Love, there would have been unrelenting distrust. With
it, there was not a single story of harm.
As the first two gifts help remove barriers of
tension and reluctance, the next two put us back in
touch with the desires of our hearts and souls, the
places where our creator resides within us. The gift of
Dreams is unique to human beings, as we are the only
species on the planet capable of imagining something
better for ourselves. It asks the question, "What
would make me happy now?" The answer is assisted by
the next gift, Courage, which is no longer bravery or
risk, but rather, something that is much, much more
challenging for most of us. It asks, "What would be
fun to try to make my dream come true?"
Peace is made real by Unity and Joy
The next two gifts align us with the best in the
people around us, and help us feel peaceful as we work
and cooperate with others to create visions that are far
greater than anything we can do alone. The gift of Unity
is no longer consensus, but the answer to the question,
"Who can help me?" It is followed by the gift
of Joy, which is not the happiness that life brings to
you, but an unbridled enthusiasm for life that is
expressed by and through you. Joy asks the question,
"How can I share whatever happiness I have?"
Trust and Character are the next two gifts. As we
grow more comfortable with our Source and the world
around us, these gifts make us peaceful with ourselves.
Trust is knowing and responding to the still, small
voice within each of us. It is acknowledging the inner
radar that tells us that whatever we are thinking,
saying or doing is either building or destroying our
peace. It asks the question, "When do I feel
good?" Our bodies become our barometer, and we can
tell by our aches, pains, twinges of regret or tears of
joy whether we are on or off track. Trust is a necessary
adjunct to the gift of Character, which asks, "What
new role do I want to play on life's stage?" As we
reinvent ourselves day after day, Character allows us to
become the best we can be.
Peace is kept by Thanks and Intention
The final two gifts fulfill the promise that we are
never alone in this wonderful universe, and that
ultimately, all is well. The gift of Thanks empowers us
to be of value and service to others. It asks the
question, "Who or what can I bless with my
gifts?" The gift of Intention keeps us safe, no
matter what. Even if appearances remain uncertain, it
allows us to align our souls with a higher power and be
ourselves, regardless of conditions around us. It asks
the questions: "What now? What next?"
As the holiday season dawns, I use my ten gifts to
experience life no longer as a seeker, but as a finder
of peace. It is everywhere: in me, in you and in
everyone and everything else. There is nowhere that
peace is not, if we choose to acknowledge it. It's in
the surrender caused by the storm that closes roads and
forces everyone to stay home for a day. It's in blessing
the work and errands that are ours to do. It's alive in
loving tears of reunion and released when we have the
courage to lay aside our work and pause long enough to
share laughter with friends. Peace is in the music of
kindness and the lighting of candles. It's a shared
table, an open door, a willing heart.
In my religious tradition, we have a holiday called
Hanukkah, a word which means "dedication." If
we dedicate ourselves to peace, if we are willing to
have it and use it and enjoy it, we will be gifted in
ways few of us have ever imagined. I wish you peace, not
only in the coming weeks, but for the rest of your life.
For when you have peace and live it, life will never
again threaten who you are or what you have. Of that, I
Robin Silverman is an author, motivational speaker and
consultant specializing in human potential. She is the founder of CreativisionsTM
workshops and lectures, which have taught thousands of men, women and
students how to eliminate problems and achieve more satisfaction and personal
peace both on and off the job. She writes and presents visualization programs
that reduce stress and improve individual and team performance. She also teaches
public speaking at the University of Minnesota. Robin has published more than
1200 newspaper and magazine articles celebrating the best of the human spirit,
and is the author of the new book, "The Ten Gifts" (St.
Martin's Press) and the forthcoming book, "Something Wonderful is
About to Happen."
Silverman is the author of the award-winning
middle-grade book, A Bosnian Family, the story of refugees from
the war in the former Yugoslavia. She is also the author of two audiotapes: Love
From Home and Relaxation for Busy People, which are
being used by men and women nationwide to reduce stress and create happier, more
fulfilling lives. Her stories are featured in the bestselling books Chicken
Soup for the Unsinkable Soul, Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul,
Small Miracles for Women and Heartwarmers. In addition,
her work has appeared in a variety of national magazines, including Inc.
magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, New Woman, Teen,
Woman's World and more.
Originally from Westfield, New Jersey, Robin now hails
from the Heartland: Grand Forks, ND, where she lives with her husband Steve, two
daughters and their collie.
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