9 quotes for finding peace in troubled times.

When the noise of the world begins to close in around you, breathe. My advice to our children in times of high anxiety starts with, “take three deep breaths.” Deep breathing calms the panic and pumps needed oxygen to a frazzled brain. I give myself the same remedy when I have no control over events or circumstances. Breathing subdues my emotions before they run amuck.

After a few deep breaths, I begin to reflect and look for words of encouragement or hope. A professed book nerd, I begin to skim through my favorites looking for insights. I search for the gems hidden behind the yellow highlights. The internet gives me another resource for inspiration.

Today, I could feel the tug of fear. The noise of the world and all its troubles had me clenching my teeth and forgetting to simply – breathe. Let go of everything beyond my control. I searched for peace and found nine messages to calm my spirit. Reminders of optimism, hope, and the strength within me.


“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never.” —Søren Kierkegaard

Staying focused on possibilities keeps me from falling into despair. I see the potential in others and myself. Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a personal mission statement.

Inspiring the potential to be and become your best.


“The mission that you have, and the same mission is true for all of us, is to make yourself happy. The ‘how’ could be a million different ways of doing what you love to do, but the mission of your life is to enjoy every single moment of your life.” —Miguel and Jose Ruiz, The Fifth Agreement

I learned long ago that life is short. The sudden death of my sister and brother made me keenly aware that we must enjoy this moment. Living in fear, complaining about circumstances rob your greatest gift—today. When the doldrums set in, I shake them off. Happiness is my responsibility.


“The future comes from where we are now. The future won’t change until we look thoughtfully at our present. We have sufficient human capacities—to think and reflect together, to care about one another, to act courageously, to reclaim the future. These great human capacities moved into action are what give me faith in the future.” —Margaret J. Wheatley, Turning to One Another

You and I have the strength and courage to create a better future. The question, however, depends on if we will choose to see the best in each other. If I look at the world through a single lens, I risk missing the opportunities to see the best in others. I must not ignore the human capacities that hold the key to building stronger communities.


“Only love is big enough to hold all the pain of this world.” —Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

Sometimes, I become overwhelmed by the pain and suffering that permeates this world. Whenever I think mine is the heaviest load, I meet or read about someone who has overcome more than I can imagine. Love shows up when we care about each other. Small acts of love make all the difference. Giving a helping hand, sharing a kind word, flashing a smile to a stranger.


“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

If I want peace in the maddening noise, I must believe in the possibility of peace. The process starts with me. In my words, my actions can promote calm and peace. Or I can add to the confusion and insecurity by allowing my fear to spill over in my conversations and actions. That’s when I remember—breathe.


“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” —Saint Francis de Sales

I know what happens when I lose myself in a whirling dervish of activity. Rushing, giving orders, and daring anyone to get in my way, I lose whatever control I thought I had. The second step after breathing—slow down. This is when I am in the greatest danger of losing the joy in this one moment.

Inner Peace

“Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.” —Pema Chödrön

My sister’s choices destroyed her friendships, opportunities, and health. Although I checked on her periodically, I had to stay away from the craziness and addictions. She could send my stress level soaring. I set boundaries to protect my inner peace.

I didn’t see it coming. My sister needed help. I became her caregiver. Those last six months of her life threw us together. I didn’t want that much togetherness. But I could not turn her away. Day after day, I struggled with my emotions.

When she died, I felt like I had let her down. I couldn’t fix the illness or her attitude. More than ever, I had to remind myself that I owned my emotions. Breathe—slow down—hold on to love—give my best.


“…At this moment, with every ounce of my energy and spirit, I am here. Call upon the best in me.” —Robert K. Cooper, The Other 90%

Robert Cooper tells the story of his grandfather. Grandfather Downing accepted the call to perform surgery on a child. He was the closest surgeon in a life or death situation.

You would expect his grandfather to respond as a surgeon. But he was dying of pancreatic cancer. His wife drove him to the hospital.

In his weakened and frail condition, his wife helped him to the operating room. Grandfather Downing would say this prayer before every surgery. Robert explains, ” ‘Call upon the best in me,’ is a prayer to give all we have to the challenge before us. None of us can give more. With practice. We will never be satisfied giving less.”

What is my best, this moment? Thinking about the best I can give, turns my thinking more positive.

Finding Peace

“Nothing can bring you peace, but yourself. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self Reliance”

No one can give me peace. Peace lies within me. It’s up to me to find peace in the maddening noise.

And always—

Be kind. Be brave. Be you.

Photo: © Kathryn LeRoy