How to Find Stillness in the Midst of Chaos


The house is a mess. The fridge is sitting in the middle of the living room. The stove parked right next to it. The dining room table, chairs and everything else is stacked in the same room. The TV is blaring the latest headlines and bad news. An accompaniment of construction noise and workers shuffling about exacerbate the chaos.

This is what I have been dealing with at my parents’ house. It is a kitchen flooring renovation project that went from a one a half day to a nine day undertaking.

I sit with my laptop trying to get some work done. I have annual reports to review and financial information to analyze. I can’t think. Everything is loud and messy. I feel distracted, annoyed and frustrated. I can’t get anything done.

Then it hit me. Why am I doing this? Whatever I was doing was adding to the same negative state.

I realized that I need to find a way to shift from agitation to a calm state of mind. Otherwise, I’ll make my life and everyone else’s more miserable for no reason whatsoever.

How to find peace and stillness in challenging situations?

Be clear on what your number one priority is. The most logical thing for me was to go back and think of what is it that I’m trying to accomplish.

My number one priority is to be there to make sure the project is done. So this the only thing I need to do. Clarity brings things into focus and eases your anxiety.

Focus. Identifying your number one priority (in my case, the flooring project) will help you focus on the most important thing. I had scheduled this time off for the project.  I got greedy trying to squeeze in other things to do. It created unnecessary pressure and did not produce any positive results. Focusing on the number one priority, on the other hand, has amazing benefits.

Pay attention to this moment. Look around you and absorb your environment.  So what if the living room is the kitchen now? We can still eat and watch TV :).

Observe your thoughts and gently bring your attention to what is in front of you now. Don’t worry about what if and what will or won’t happen. Everything is perfect at this moment—as it is meant to be.

Listen to the rhythm of life. Your attention will engage your senses in noticing the beautiful rhythmic beat of life. All the noise becomes part of a masterpiece of creation.  As I listened, the humming of the fridge synchronized well with the beat of the nail gun and the buzzing of the air pump. I could almost anticipate what’s next. This simple shift turned noise into a joyful celebration of sound.

Trust: allow things to happen and life to unfold. Things may work as planned, or may not. Allowing life to happen will reduce your inner resistance and suffering.

The flooring project did not go as planned. No matter how angry or frustrated I got, the results were going to be the same. My own resistance was rooted in fear of wasting time and compromising the quality of the work done. All I needed to do was remind myself that we chose the best people for the job. So quality wasn’t an issue. Worrying about time was a symptom of my desire to control the situation.

Trust that things will work out at the right time. Let go of the need to control the outcome and be OK with keeping things hanging for a while. All that matters is happening at this moment.

Let yourself be. You don’t’ have to be super man or woman and do a gazillion things. If you are tired, so be it. You are getting the most important thing done.

I stopped trying to catch up on my work and chose to relax and focus on the project at hand. It is amazing how different things look and feel when you just let yourself enjoy them without the added pressure of what should or could be done.

Make the best of your experience. There is nothing wrong with just observing people and immersing yourself in the experience. Appreciate their skills and the way they do their work.

I witnessed the science and art of fixing and laying out flooring. The workers moved with ease and natural flow.

There is beauty and talent in everything we do, no matter how small or simple the job may be. Why not take the time to enjoy the chaos whenever you get a chance?