Inner Peace: Feeling overwhelmed and out of control?

One planet, one people, one family, by Sally McKirgan.
March 14, 2022

Focus on what you can control in the moment

By Peter Finkle

Have you taken part lately in conversations like this one I had with my wife Kathy?

K: “We’ve been cooped up at home. Let’s go out to eat!”

P: “I’d love to. But I don’t want to eat inside at the restaurant. COVID-19 is spreading too fast in Jackson County, and we are being cautious.”

K: “I know. But I don’t want to eat outside. The smoky air is back in the unhealthy range again today.”

P: “Darn. But….”

K: “It’s depressing, isn’t it?”

Yes, it is depressing when huge forces out of our control impact our daily lives, our choices, our spirits. Massive forest fires. COVID-19 everywhere. Divisions in our country.

I thought about it. What tools do I have, do we have, to deal with the heavy weight of these forces? A lightbulb went on. Not long ago, I had been watching top tennis players on TV at the U.S. Open tournament grapple with different, but also huge, outside forces. The weight of expectation. The power of the opponent. The pressure of the moment.

When interviewed, the winners all expressed variations of the same theme. The gist of it was: “Under pressure, I focused only on what I could control, and I stayed totally in the moment.”

I’m not playing today for a trophy that comes with a $2.5 million check. No, but I am (and you are) living today for something even more valuable than that — the precious moments of life.

The possibility:

What can I control?

What can I find in this moment?

Applying the wisdom of these winning players, I wrote three practical affirmations to guide me through the pressures of COVID-19, smoky skies, and anything else life throws at me. Perhaps you can apply these principles, or a variation of them, in your life.

Today I choose to live

with an open, loving heart,

so I can give to others.

Today I choose to live

with an open, curious mind,

so I can learn from others.

Appreciation for what is present in this moment,

be it at home, at work, or in nature,

is a doorway that opens

to a place of contentment and freedom.

Read Peter Finkle’s photo essays about Ashland history, art, neighborhoods and more at Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at
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