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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

How to Find Peace Anywhere, Even New York City

Robert Manni - Friday, August 05, 2016


“If you can find peace here, you can find peace anywhere”.

That’s not Frank. It’s your Guy’s Guy. And it’s true. It’s possible to live a serene, drama-free lifestyle in New York City.

One way to find peace is to sit near the ocean watching the sea and listening to the waves crash against the shoreline. After a few short minutes you will definitely calm down. Another surefire way to quiet the mind is resting under a lotus tree on a remote mountainside. But how can we find bliss when we spend portions of our day, not on a mountaintop, but wedged into a sweaty, overcrowded 6 train during rush hour?

No worries. Finding peace in New York City is not as difficult as you may think. Over the years I have found a number of ways to stay calm and find tranquility, even in the city’s unusually stressful environment. So, I wanted to share are a few tips to help you chill. I’ve included a few of my faves and old standbys, and some new techniques I’ve recently picked up. And, trust me amigo, they all work if you have the right mindset and truly want to slow things down, even if it’s only for a short time. So without further adieu, here are your Guys’ Guy’s Tips for Finding Peace Anywhere, even in New York City.

1. Limit your media consumption – Everyone in New York is inundated with an endless barrage of media—internet, iPhones, television, text messages, Instagram, radio, podcasts, video games, newspapers, and all of the advertising that accompanies it. Every day we're clubbed and have our faces rubbed i[ a mixed mush of Trump, Isis, Hillary, and the damn Zika virus. You can’t even take a piss in a bar without seeing ads selling you the beer you just eliminated. It’s a vicious cycle.

In advertising, our aim is capitalize on feelings of lack to sell crap you really don’t need. Media takes things to another level. It preys upon our fears. Their strategy seems to be, “let’s scare the shit out of them so they’ll stay tuned”, hoping for a solution to the world’s problems. But as we know, whenever one problem is solved, lots more enter the trending news cycle. When people fall under this spell of doom and gloom it becomes close to impossible to find peace or solace.

There is one thing you can do to help alleviate the issue. Make sure you find the time to unplug every day. Be mindful of your work, but afterwards make it a goal to go old school. Don’t check your the phone every ten seconds, take a breather offline, have a real conversation, and see if you can leave the office without plugging in your ear buds. I know that’s tall order for millennials in a hyper-connected city like ours, but unplugging can make a big difference in elevating your mood and soothing your feelings of anxiety.

2. Replace it with literature, music, film, and art – One can argue that surfing the internet is reading, and most of the time, surfing the internet does consist of reading. But let’s consider what we’re reading when we’re online. Snarky Facebook posts about the election, what people had for lunch, or the latest news about Bernie Sanders, Kanye, Beiber, or the Kardashians probably won’t help your inner peace or sanity. Books and other art forms can help you find the peace you're seeking, if you consume peaceful content. Porn, ultra-violent graphic novels, speed metal, and Tarantino films are not recommended when you want to add peace to your day.

3. Walk more – Buses are slow. Subways are filthy and curtailed by delays. Taxis and Uber can get expensive quickly. And all these modes of transportation create stress. Want some peace? Over the years I have found that walking whenever possible does wonders for your heart, relaxes you, helps you learn the city, and is a great way to either start your day or de-stress after a tough go at the office. Of course there are times when we need to take public transportation or call Uber. But if you pay attention, you’ll find ample opportunities to walk instead of riding that stinky C train. And, over time you may find yourself steering your walks towards the more scenic urban landscapes like our wonderful parks. 

4. Meditate, do yoga, get physical – I find that twenty minutes of meditation or yoga helps alleviate stress and fosters peace. If a high intensity cardio workout can help get you into a zone where you can find clarity, then go for it. Any physical activity that requires focus also works to quiet that noise and monkey chatter in your mind.

5. Find tranquil settings – I’ve worked in most areas of Manhattan except for Wall Street. And having traversed almost every inch of Manhattan, I know enough to avoid Times Square, Midtown, and the financial district whenever possible. Between selfie-obsessed tourists, cartoon characters, and workers marching to and from the office texting and yapping into their cellphones, I steer clear of these over-populated sections of the city. If you are forced to spend time in one of these congested areas because of your job, if you look you will find a few mini-oasis and quiet places to sit, some with urban waterfalls. Weather permitting; stepping outside during your lunch hour or on a break does wonders for your mood.

6. Breathe – If you only do one thing to help you find peace in the city, make it being conscious of your breathing. Each time you can sit quietly for a moment, walk down the street, or when you’re feeling angst creep in, focus on your breath. Concentrate on breathing in and breathing out. Do this for a minute or two and I assure you that you will find a brief respite from your daily struggles. Simply pay attention to your breathing. The more you do it, the more bliss you will find. It’s that easy, amigos. Peace out.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Sri Dharma Mittra. He is a wise and peaceful yoga teacher who has an amazing studio on 23rd Street in Manhattan and followers worldwide. 

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