“There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble free retreat than in his own mind, especially if he has within himself the kind of thoughts that let him dip into them and so at once gain complete ease of mind; and by ease of mind, I mean nothing but having one’s own mind in good order.” – Marcus Aurelius
It’s difficult to get things done when you’re working in a disordered environment. You reach for a screwdriver to fix something but it’s no longer in your toolkit, so you waste about 20 minutes looking for it. Your boss is yapping at you to complete a project. Once it is done you discover that it wasn’t due until the following week and if you had read the daily memo you would have discovered that there was another order that you were supposed to be working on. Meanwhile your other bosses are making demands on your time, none of whom are working in cohesion. Your co-workers are doing their own thing as well, largely because they are trying to out-due one another so that they might win the end of the week bonus for getting the most work done. The new secretary, who doesn’t have any relevant expertise and work experience, has misplaced your financial details, so someone else is receiving your paychecks, and somehow it’s your problem to solve.
This dysfunctional work environment may serve as a good analogy to what it means to have a disordered mind. With a disordered mind our thoughts are all over the place, stirring up the mud and making it difficult to see. We lose our bearing and sense of what is right. Everything appears out of proportion. Problems are magnified and we end up wasting time on insignificant matters. A chicken without its head so to speak, making tracks all around the chopping block but not actually going anywhere or doing anything of significance.
So now that we have glimpsed the nature of a disordered mind, how about we take a look at what it means to have a mind put in good order; otherwise, peace of mind. We may agree it consists of clarity, a sound estimation of things, and a guilt free conscience. Of such terms the third may require additional explanation so that we might better grasp the whole. Simply put the conscience can be likened to our personal authority or ability to judge things aright according to that which is within our control. One’s conscience is gradually developed within a social context in view to the roles the individual participates in. So a person with a good conscience would be one who performs their duties to the best of their ability while respecting the rights and freedoms of others.
Coming to terms with what it means to have peace of mind may be a challenging endeavour. There are several contradictory definitions and ideas that may make us feel indifferent. For some, peace is no more than a feeling or the absence of thought. There are others who feel it’s strictly religious and can only be received through contemplative exercises. Such differences of opinion need not prevent us from learning about something of great value. In truth, by comparing and contrasting the various notions of peace, we not only add to our knowledge base, we also ascertain insights that can help us to see the practical advantages of a well ordered mind, as well as discover new ways of achieving it.
What does peace of mind mean to you? Would you like to share your personal experience as to how you remain calm & composed while under pressure? Why do you feel the need to maintain equanimity and can you foresee the long term ramifications of failing to put your house in good order? Can you recall some specific events when your ability to be unperturbed enabled you to choose an appropriate course of action in spite of the extreme difficulty you were under? Where do you need to be in order to learn additional skills that are conducive to maintaining serenity? Give these questions some thought and share them in the comment section below.