How to Find Greater Balance and More Peace in Your Life, Especially Now
Today more than ever, these principles can help all of us, no matter our specific religion or faith
After nearly six years of pastoral ministry in New York City — which includes attending to people with spiritual direction, in sacramental life, during family dinners, over multiple conversations on subways and packed Metro-North train rides and while in constant contact with strangers on the streets — I have heard and perceived that people are “overwhelmed,” “exhausted,” “stressed out,” or simply “burned out.”
I propose three core life principles that contribute to a greater balance, peace, and harmony in our lives, especially now, when the culture seems especially torn apart and full of strife.
1.) Make time for God. Just as your body needs food and water, your soul needs prayer and grace to survive.
The busy men and women I know who make time for daily Mass, regular prayers and stay connected to Christ throughout the day, simply have more peace and fortitude to endure the daily grind. I know several businessmen who create “Jesus time” on their schedule, and they protect these 10 minutes of prayer as if it were time with their most valued client.
Others pray the rosary on the train or when they fly to business meetings. Some simply pop into a church on the way to work for a quick visit, allowing the love of Christ to touch their hearts.
Others have a conversation with Christ on their way home, asking Him to help them be the spouse their family needs when they walk in the door.
Christ will remind you in prayer how much He wants to love your spouse and your children through you and to make sure that they are given their proper time in your busy life as well. Christ reminds us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Make time and space for God to love you.
2.) Sharpen the saw through sports, sleep, and silence. There is a plethora of research that shows the innumerable advantages of regular exercise. Go for a run, do your spin cycle, lift weights, play tennis or golf. Get your body moving and shaking, and the benefits will begin to flood in: better mood, better health, stress is released, discipline is enhanced … and the list could go on and on.
Don’t consider this as being selfish with your time; it is an act of charity toward yourself and to those around you.
Secondly, get enough sleep. Caffeine can only do so much and eventually, your overstressed body will either shut down, make you unbearably irritable, or cause a major health problem. At times, you need to say “no” to parties and late-night opportunities, so as to have this necessary recharge.
Finally, create silent zones in the day, when you can reflect on what God is doing and what He may want from you. Silence allows your soul to calm down from the cacophony of the city and social media. Silence allows you to hear the whisper of God and the gentle nudging of your conscience.
St. Mother Teresa reminds us, “We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence … We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
3.) Live in the present moment. “As to the past, let us entrust it to God’s mercy, the future to Divine Providence. Our task is to live Holy in the present moment,” said St. Gianna Molla.
So much time and energy are sucked out of people’s lives because they keep reliving past hurts or allow anxiety toward the future to take over their thought process.
Living in the present demands spiritual fortitude to focus on the “now.” Develop an attitude of total trust that God will never give you more than you can handle — and that the power of His grace will support you in the future as well.
Life balance is impossible without putting God at the center, making time to rest and renew your spirit, and living fully in the present moment.
Peace is a gift that Christ gives to His friends — and right now our world desperately needs that witness of a “Christ-centered” peace.
Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.