Life is hectic. Your mind never shuts up. You know you need something to calm your untamed spirit, but what? How? Maybe you try doing yoga, or you have a not-so-little shopping habit, maybe you watch TV and zone out for hours or you don’t have time for any of these things and that’s the problem. Don’t get caught up in what you don’t have time for or what’s not working, let’s focus on the things you can do in your crazy everyday life that will help you achieve a state of inner peace and a better understanding of who you are as a person. If you want to achieve peace in a minute a day there’s an online course to guide you.
Focus on the Present
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha
When the restless activity of your mind slows down, when your thoughts stop rushing like waves on a windy day, then you will start getting glimpses of the sweet taste of inner peace. – Remez Sasson
So often people get wrapped up in the past or the future while completely neglecting the present moment. Guilty? I know I am. It’s hard sometimes to appreciate the things we have, right now, in this moment, without comparing it to a past moment, or wondering how things will be different in the future. This inner peace technique will require you to gain a bit of self-control. It’s not going to happen overnight but if you’re determined enough you’ll begin to see the change and man, will you be relieved. Here’s the secret: think about nothing.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Which is why meditation can be such a hard task for so many. No, you don’t have to sit down, legs crossed and say Om; you can quiet your mind anywhere, anytime. Eckert Tolle says that understanding the present is being present. So what does “being present” really mean?
The present moment is a place where time doesn’t exist. Everything that ever happens or ever will happen happens in the present, right? You can’t be “doing” something that happened two seconds ago – that would be the past. And “two seconds ago” is how we define and understand the concept of time. Without a past or a future – there is no time, only the present. The minute you are able to stop thinking (not easy to do, I know) and quiet the noise of your mind you’ll find a sense of calm and a connection to your deeper self that can only be obtained by being in the present. So, next time your overwhelmed thinking about your unknown future or your rocky past: picture a white blank slate and the sound of nothing, or as close to nothing as you can get. I do this because without something to initially focus on I won’t ever be able to shut my mind up. In time you’ll hone your skills and you won’t have to picture “white”, it’ll just be there, quiet and comforting.
If this is confusing, or intriguing, check out Eckert Tolle’s The Power of Now. He does a phenomenal job of explaining the present moment and the effect it has on your ability to achieve inner peace. You can even get this as an audiobook to listen during your daily commute. Also see Mindfulness Made Simple.
It’s easy for life to get the best of you, but it’s not supposed to be like that. You are in control of your destiny and you have the power to make life exactly what you want it to be. This, often times, requires keeping it simple (or KISS for keeping it simple, stupid). There are a few ways to do this that will give you immediate results.
Such a simple (ha) concept but one that a lot of us, myself included, don’t know how to do. We want to please everyone around us and we think by agreeing to take on more responsibility, or more commitments, that we are making others happy which, is supposed to make us happy, right? Wrong. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to reject a request. If you’re overwhelmed and time is running thin you’re going to be stressed, when you’re stressed you will probably be a bit more edgy, and when you’re edgy, the people around you will sense it which creates a negative environment for everyone. Just say no.
I think worrying could actually be the death of some of us. Stop that. Stop worrying that you ate a piece of cake earlier today, despite your diet; stop worrying that your significant other doesn’t make the bed; stop worrying about what you should have said at that interview; stop worrying about what the all-consuming future might hold; just stop. These things will complicate your life unnecessarily.
If you set your standards too high you’ll never feel like things are “right”, which in turn, can mean you’ll never be truly at peace. Remember there is no such thing as “perfect” and in all of our imperfections there is perfection. We’re human. Simplify your life by accepting what is. This doesn’t mean strive for average, but striving for unobtainable standards is just as bad. Set a doable to-do list each day. Don’t expect to get 27 things done, be okay with getting the top five accomplished. Accept those around you for who they are, faults and all. Accept that your best is your best. Which brings us to our next topic.
Forgive and Accept Others (and Yourself)
Harboring feelings of anger or judgment requires a lot of energy. Think about it. Letting go is so much easier than arbitrarily holding on. Everyone has their story of how they were wronged, or how they made a mistake – 1 year ago, 3 years ago, 25 years ago. The past is the past and nothing will come from self-resentment or the resentment of others. How are you supposed to grow on a personal level if you are obsessing over the things you cannot change? Focus on the things you can change and that starts with your overall attitude and your ability to forgive and accept.
So, you mucked up a friendship over something trivial – forgive yourself and take away something positive from the situation. Apologize but don’t expect overwhelming acceptance. Not everyone is on the path to inner peace. You, however, must learn to accept. Through forgiving and accepting you will no longer be hiding behind your emotions and pain. You’ll be able to enjoy clarity which ultimately leads to a better understanding of yourself and those around you. This sets the stage for not repeating similar behavior patterns.
If someone wronged you and you have yet to forgive them, you’re only enabling the wrong they committed to control your life. Remember, the past is the past. Sure you may not want to forgive and forget because this can condone negative behavior. Think about it differently. By forgiving you are showing compassion and understanding that we’re all human and we all make mistakes. Next time this person is on the receiving end of an apology maybe they will reconsider how they react. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
All the time and energy you spend dwelling over the why, the how, the what, you could have spent paving your path to peace and happiness. Still having trouble forgiving? Succeed Because of What You’ve Been Through.
Materials Aren’t the Answer
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. – Buddha
Let’s be honest here. You’re looking for inner peace, not to be whisked away into a Buddhist monk lifestyle where “all life is suffering” and “materialism leads to a rejection of spirituality”. In truth, finding peace can be temporarily fulfilled by surrounding yourself with things. Hello, stress shopping. I know ladies, it feels really good to go out and buy a new pair of shoes if you’re having a bad day – but it’s only a temporary fix. After the high of spending money and getting those new kicks home, you start to revert back to the feeling of doom that ailed you in the first place. Plus, now you’re feeling guilty for spending that money (maybe). Don’t let “things” be your solution to the inner turmoil you may experience. Trust me.
When I was 18 I had a house fire and lost everything I owned. Just so happens that two weeks prior to the fire I had received my first credit card in the mail and, yeah, maxed it out on “things”. I can tell you from experience that losing everything was the most liberating experience of my life. I learned to treasure the human spirit and my relationships with family and friends.
Next time you feel like shopping, do something inherently good for your being instead. Take a walk and marvel at the beauty of this world (remember: simplify). Find a creative outlet. Creating something is a great measure to counteract negative emotions. You’re expressing yourself and you have something tangible and meaningful in the end that you can be proud of. Call a friend. Volunteer. Things are just things and they aren’t going to be there for you when you need them.
Determine Your Attitude
Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast. – Norman Vincent Peale
Every day you have a choice. You have a choice to be a person full of humbleness and optimism, of compassion and passion, of trust and understanding. Or, a person full of dread, anger, resentment, jealousy and impatience. It should be obvious that the latter isn’t your path to the land of peace. You have the power to change your perception of the world around you and thus you can change the perception that those around you have of you. I call it the conscious shift. When you’re faced with an undesirable situation instead of just reacting, take a few seconds, step back and reassess. This can be applied for any circumstance you may find yourself in. If someone does something that upsets you don’t lash out. Why does it upset you? Is it really their fault? Are you mad at yourself? What can you learn from this?
Next time your co-worker says something that really irks you – don’t snap at them or make a sly remark. Make a conscious shift in attitude and address it with compassion and understanding. Don’t fake it, either. The point is to actually feel this way. In time you’ll find the benefits of a conscious shift will make you, and those around you, happier. The more you put effort into doing this, the more natural it will become and the more refined your feeling of inner peace will be. No one likes a negative Nancy. Find Love, Peace and Stillness in this online 10-day retreat.
Inner peace is something that cannot be bought nor can it can’t be obtained overnight but its value is priceless. Commit yourself to the path of inner peace by following some of these tips every day. Every day you do this you will grow and every day you grow you are bound to a better and more peaceful existence.