There are so many things in life that can disturb your inner peace, especially in these frantic times we live in.
First there is the small matter of your own mind—the worry thoughts, the neurotic thoughts, the self-critical thoughts, the judgement thoughts.
These lodgers in your head can suck all the peace right out of you in the blink of an eye if you give them an inch.
There are the stressful situations you have to deal with on a daily basis… the morning commute to get to the life-sapping job you are forced to do to keep up the payments on the house and car.
And then there is the sad state of the world…
But let’s not even go there.
At times, it can feel like an achievement just to get through another day with your will to live intact, let alone feeling calm, relaxed and at peace.
How on earth do you find inner peace when there seems to be so much wrong — with yourself, with your life and with the world?
How to relax, let go and enjoy life more?
Fortunately, there are many practical steps you can take to experience more peace, even if your current life situation is less than ideal.
7 Things That People Who Experience Inner Peace Do Differently
1. They Accept Themselves Unconditionally
Do you have the tendency to be your own harshest critic?
Perhaps you demand a level of perfection from yourself that even a saint would have a hard job living up to?
Well, here is some good news.
We are all flawed and imperfect. It is built into the human design. We are all, as Jean Paul Sartre puts it, “spectacularly flawed.”
Sometimes you are compassionate, selfless and caring. At other times you behave like a total jerk. And it is all OK. In fact, it couldn’t be any other way.
I am not suggesting, of course, that you use this as a licence to abuse others.
People who experience inner peace have learned to accept themselves just as they are—the good, the bad and the ugly.
They know they are far from perfect… and they are OK with that. They accept themselves unconditionally.
2. They Skilfully Surf Life’s Waves
Most of the experiences we encounter in life are beyond our control—much like the waves that appear in the ocean.
Good stuff happens, bad stuff happens. It is all part of the ebb and flow of life.
It is not the ‘bad’ waves themselves that cause us pain and suffering. That depends on whether you accept them or resist them when they arrive.
Some people remain calm and peaceful under the most harrowing conditions whereas others freak out if the food in the restaurant takes a little too long to arrive.
People who experience peace have a more detached attitude towards life’s ups and downs. They don’t get overexcited when life treats them favourably … nor do they become overly dejected when things don’t go their way. “This too shall pass” is the mantra of the wise.
The trick is to welcome ALL waves with an attitude of non-judgemental acceptance. What is the point in resisting what is already there anyway?
3. They Don’t Get Bogged Down In The Mind
Most of the advice on learning to surf life’s waves applies equally to the thoughts that flow through your mind. Thoughts are also events that appear randomly in your awareness.
Pleasant thoughts appear. Unpleasant thoughts appear. They are like little clouds that float across the sky — some of them light, some of them dark.
The sky doesn’t care what type of clouds pass across it. It is possible to cultivate the same dispassion towards the thoughts that appear in your head.
People who experience inner peace don’t get too bogged down in their minds.
It is not to say that they don’t have troublesome thoughts… everyone does. They just don’t make such a big deal out of it.
They roll out the red carpet to ALL thoughts. Your mind only SEEMS to have power over you because you are in the habit of giving it a lot of importance and attention.
If you are not so bothered about what it gets up to, it loses its power to affect your peace.
Check out my book: “Kick The Thinking Habit” for more on this.
4. They Hang Out In The Present Moment
So, if you withdraw your attention from your mind, where else can you put it?
People who experience inner peace spend a lot of time hanging out in the present moment.
The mind is never present. It pulls your attention into the past and future. All problems are mind-created and exist in time. It is impossible to be present and to suffer at the same time.
Don’t take my word for it. Test it for yourself.
Think of a problem you are currently facing in your life.
Try holding on to the problem whilst simultaneously giving your full attention to the breath flowing in and out of your body … or giving attention to the physical sensations in your foot?
You will find you can only focus on one or the other.
There is a beautiful mindfulness practice called “abiding in the here and now.” Most of us, through habit, spend our days “abiding in the mind.”
When you shift your attention from the mind to the present moment, all problems vanish. The world comes to life in the most beautiful ways.
5. They Live Simply, Slowly and Mindfully
One reason people are so stressed and depressed in the city is that they have become so disconnected and cut off from their natural, biological rhythms.
I spend a some time each year in a small village in India. The people here exhibit an inner peace and happiness that one rarely finds in the West.
The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, said: “Nature does not rush. Yet everything is accomplished.”
This is a perfect description for how the Indian villagers live. There is no rush in their lives, yet everything gets done. They live slow, simple lives in natural surroundings.
So, if you want to experience more inner peace, take steps to slow down and simplify your life… declutter, downsize, work less, exercise more, cut down on your commitments, nurture your relationships, spend more time in nature.
Whether you are washing the dishes or eating your lunch, perform each action slowly and deliberately. Give your full attention to the present moment.
6. They Look For The Good In Everything
People who enjoy inner peace and happiness have an optimistic outlook on life.
Some people are fortunate to be born with a sunny disposition, whilst others need to work at it a little more.
We are all free to make the simple choice: “Today, whatever arises, I choose to focus on the positive.”
Abraham Lincoln once said: “Most people are about as happy as they decide to be.”
Count your blessings rather than dwelling on the things you perceive to be wrong in yourself, in your life and in the world. There is always a lot to be grateful for… if you choose to make that your focus.
7. They Have A Daily Practice To Hone Their Inner Peace Muscles
If you wish to experience more peace in your life, it is helpful to adopt some form of daily spiritual practice. I would recommend mindfulness meditation for its simplicity and wonderful benefits.
Stress arises when we become trapped in the mind’s web of worries and concerns. Meditation is a tool for helping you break the habit of dwelling in the mind.
When you withdraw your attention from the mind, it becomes quiet. Peace is a natural by-product.
It is who you are in the absence of thinking. You don’t have to create it. You only have to be still enough to experience what is always there.
In each moment, you can choose to be attentive to the mind or to bring your attention back to the present moment. Regular practice helps establish this habit.
Inner Peace Is Your Most Precious Possession
It can be a real challenge to keep up with the frantic pace and complexity of modern life without getting stressed out and overwhelmed.
Keeping your head above water can feel like an achievement in itself.
Inner peace is your most precious possession. All the money in the world means nothing without it.
It is a delicate flower that can easily be trampled if you don’t take measures to slow down and stress-proof your life. It needs your care and attention to blossom.
But here is the good news. No matter how stressed and disconnected you have become, there are simple steps you can take to get back on track.
Use the 7 tips above to access the peace and calm that is always available at the core of your being.
Learn how to rest peacefully in the eye of the storm as life’s trials and tribulations blow all around you.