By Bob Mueller

Our lives often resemble an old-fashioned pressure cooker, the pressure building and the whistle about to blow. Most of us accept such on-the-go pressure. We’re oblivious to its damage until the harm is done, and though we may question it at times, we remain on the move.

Let’s just stop for a moment! Can’t we enjoy full and serene lives? Have we exaggerated the obstacles barring us from tranquil days? Why not pursue serenity? Wait. Just what is serenity?

Serenity is the possession of a steady spirit that provides a consistent day of being in the world no matter what. This steadiness is rooted in an unflappable inner sanctuary that has room for both sadness and joy.

Possessing this essentially undisturbed core does not imply a happy or carefree life nor preclude difficulty and heartache. Up in the morning — aware — steady — living — steady — day’s end — steady. Disappointment, adventure, and surprise all come and go, and deep within, all is calm. This serene constancy is not flashy yet its magnetic force is irresistible. Serenity is good for the body. It wears well on the face.

Serenity comes naturally, if we let it. Clenched jaws and frozen brows can thaw, darting eyes and tense grips can relax, if we let them. Doesn’t tranquility spread within as you take a walk, dig in the garden, or gaze out the window?

A friend who owns a fish store shared his astonishment at the number of customers who purchase fish tanks prescribed by their physicians. “Sit for 20 minutes twice a day and watch the fish.” Another friend who owns a nursery packs cars with plants and seedlings to a familiar refrain: “I’m told this will be good therapy.”

Do we need experts to tell us that we are too hard on ourselves? Fish and flowers are medicine. They remind us that we are part of the world, with one part to play.

Circumstances vary, and serenity may be hard to imagine in some lives. Still, tranquility and turmoil can coexist, serving as lesson and reminder. Appreciating its value and making the choice to cultivate serenity is the beginning. Far from being a keepsake to have and to hold, tranquility is won through awareness, good judgment, and practice. It takes work to uncover our quiet haven. Difficulty is real; escape is neither possible nor always desirable. Bedrock calm despite hard times is good living.

Fear? Life and death balance each other, come and go from each other, and never exclude the other completely. Regret? Even our mistakes and shortcomings are part of life; we can stop berating ourselves and open the way for improvement.

Spend some time close to water — listening to rain, watching melting snow, hearing a splashing fountain, enjoying a pool, sitting by a pond, looking out the window at dew on dawn’s grass.

Get your hands in the dirt — a garden, a pot, clearing a small spot for mint, stopping and seeing a possibility for new growth in an unexpected place.

Choose a day with little responsibilities and no plans. Notice the times that you fret about things that are out of your control. This awareness of unnecessary distractions requires effort, but little by little these serenity-blockers will lose their power.

Bob Mueller is the vice president of Development at Hosparus.