Stress, depression, anxiety. None of us are strangers to these issues these days, which is why more people than ever before have turned towards the search for inner peace.
But inner peace isn’t simply something you can turn on; it’s not something you can decide to do and then do it.
Inner peace is a state to be achieved and to be improved upon, a lifelong journey that requires a lifetime commitment.
So how do you find inner peace and what does it really mean?
In this article I discuss the fundamentals behind inner peace: its spiritual and mental connotations with Buddhism, its practical applications with everyday life, and how you can truly incorporate inner peace in the way you live.
How the Modern World Necessitates Inner Peace
The modern world takes a heavy toll on all of us. Smart technology, internet everywhere we go, and an emerging all-access work culture that expects us to be “on” whenever possible.
Lunch breaks become shorter, weekends become extinct, and vacations become something you put off for your retirement.
And it’s not always a matter of choice.
We’re stressed, worried, anxious, and confused. We don’t know if the economy will still have our jobs in 5, 10, 20 years, whether because of one global crisis or another, or the upcoming automation of 90% of our current workforce.
It never feels like we have room to breathe, to choose the sensible option of slowing down because the world just keeps spinning faster and faster and faster.
But for many of us, trying to keep up is just a cycle of self-destruction.
Mental health issues are more prevalent than ever before; suicide is a common part of our social circles rather than a rare occurrence.
Expectations and demands are through the roof, and you’re no longer just competing with your classroom or your office or your town; you’re competing against the whole world.
And this is why inner peace has never been more crucial to our lives. We’ve forgotten what means to live a life where we’re not always overloaded, overworked, and underappreciated, by those around us and by ourselves.
Perhaps in the pre-modern world, most people didn’t need to seek out inner peace like it was some journey or goal, because the world didn’t demand so much from them.
But these days the search for inner peace must be an active part of our lives because everything around us constantly acts towards disturbing our inner peace and pulling us back into the chaos.
What Is Inner Peace, And Why We’re Drawn To It
Inner peace is often associated with Buddhism, but it’s not always a religious or spiritual choice.
While many find a kind of spirituality when practicing inner peace and Buddhist teachings, and while learning Buddhism certainly helps with the personal journey towards true inner peace, the ideas behind inner peace can also be just as practical, applicable to your daily life.
To understand what inner peace is, we must understand what inner peace isn’t. Inner peace isn’t:
- Being passive and letting life pass you by
- Being calm and never having any fun
- Turning down opportunities to grow your life and do new things
- Having no more energy because you’re keeping it all inside
- Becoming a quiet, reserved, and even timid individual
Simply put, inner peace has very little to do with the things that other people would see when they look at you.
Your external self doesn’t necessarily need to be influenced by the practice of inner peace; if you change externally, it is simply an active choice made after you change internally.
But what exactly is inner peace?
Inner peace is an internalized state of spiritual and mental peace. When the noise in your head quietens and the tangles of threads start coming apart, allowing you to see the space between your thoughts for the first time in what might seem like forever — that is inner peace.
Inner peace gives us the silence we need in a world of constant deafening noise. It allows us to open our eyes inside our minds and see just how cramped everything has become.
With inner peace, we notice why we feel the stress and anxiety that underpins our every day, and finally clean out the messy rooms we’ve made of our minds.
With so many people dealing with mental health issues, so many drowning in work, and so many moving away from traditional religiosity and spirituality, the journey to inner peace is the saving grace for millions.
It is the way for us to step back from our active selves, trapped in a permanent state of distress, and calm down for a moment or more.
Earlier we discussed what inner peace isn’t. Now we discuss what inner peace is.
Inner peace is:
- Achieving happiness and contentment not through things and achievements, but through reconnection with the self
- Becoming a fuller version of the self not by adding to it, but by rediscovering it
- Being whoever you want to be, but being a better version of yourself by having the clarity and presence of a calm inner self
- Letting go of the superficial pains and worries weighing down your mind
- Accepting everything — your life, your career, your body, your everything — so you can truly and actionably change for the better
7 Dangerous Beliefs That Will Block Your Inner Peace
Inner peace is a long and winding journey that no one can walk with us.
The specifics of this journey vary from person to person, the things we need to overcome mentally and psychologically to reach a place where we can truly be at peace with ourselves.
But there are a few common major obstacles that most of us face, and learning how to break through these vicious thought patterns is key towards achieving inner peace.
As you begin incorporating methods and practices of inner peace in your daily life, keep in mind the following dangerous negative beliefs:
1) “I will be happy when I get this.”
It’s common to think of happiness as a measurement defined by the things we have (and the things we want to have).
But we also know that happiness that comes from “things” — whether it be a new laptop or a new car — is fleeting; once the novelty of the new item wears off, we’re back to where we were, only now we’re chasing something else.
Your happiness must come from within, not from without. The thing you need to “get” is reconnection with who you are, and figuring out what you want with your life.
2) “My true emotions will reveal my vulnerabilities and weaknesses.”
We often hide our true feelings about things, because we don’t want to come off as weak or small to those around us.
We are taught to see some feelings as socially inappropriate, like sadness, fear, and anger, so we try to hide those from the rest of the world.
But there is no quicker way to impede your path to inner peace than by forcing yourself to be inauthentic.
3) “I should never get angry”
How do you deal with your anger?
If you’re like most people, then you suppress it. You focus on having good feelings and thinking positive thoughts.
That’s understandable. We’ve been taught our whole lives to look on the bright side. That the key to happiness is simply to hide your anger and visualize a better future.
Even today, positive thinking is what most mainstream personal development “gurus” preach.
But what if I told you that everything you’ve been taught about anger is wrong? That anger — properly harnessed — could be your secret weapon in developing inner peace?
And in living a productive and meaningful life?
Shaman Rudá Iandê has totally changed how I view my own anger. He taught me a new framework for turning my anger into my greatest personal power.
If you too would like to harness your own natural anger, check out Ruda’s excellent masterclass on turning anger into your ally here.
I recently took this masterclass myself where I discovered:
- The importance of feeling anger
- How to claim ownership of my anger
- A radical framework for turning anger into personal power.
Taking charge of my anger and making it a productive force has been a game changer in my own life. Because suppressing my natural anger brought me no inner peace at all.
Rudá Iandê taught me that being angry isn’t about blaming others or becoming a victim. It’s about using the energy of anger to build constructive solutions to your problems and making positive changes to your own life.
Here’s a link to the masterclass again. It’s 100% free and there are no strings attached.
4) “I need to be happier.”
The fixation on how happy we are — especially compared to those around us — has become an unhealthy obsession in modern culture.
Even if we’re currently satisfied and happy, we let ourselves feel down just because we don’t feel “as happy” as we think we should be feeling.
We need to let go of the social parameters and judge our feelings only by what they are, rather than what we think they should be.
5) “I need to be doing something right now.”
In a culture absolutely addicted to achievement and productivity, one line that has become ingrained into our psyche is, “I need to be doing something right now”.
And there is no limit to what “right now” is; “right now” can be in the middle of dinner with your family, or right before you go to bed, or in the first 5-minute break you get all week.
We’ve become programmed to feel the incessant need to do something productive at all times, not because we want to, but because we feel like failures if we don’t.
This is one of the biggest things you need to get over if you ever want to know a true sense of calm.
6) “I’m not good enough.”
We’re never truly as good as we want to be, which is why the path towards self-betterment is a lifelong process.
But oftentimes we use the phrase, “I’m not good enough”, to put ourselves down and to stop us from trying.
We feel like we don’t belong so we inject these toxic little lines into our psyche, mentally hampering ourselves for no reason other than to incentivize our mind to give up.
Because it’s easier to give up and feel sorry for yourself instead of just getting over it and becoming the better version of yourself you want to be.
7) “I’m ashamed and embarrassed by my past.”
We all have regrets and skeletons in the closet, even the best of us. When we hold onto these memories we prevent ourselves from growing.
If your journey to inner peace is paved with haunting memories and shameful regrets, you’ll never find the light at the end of the tunnel.
You need to accept that these memories are part of who you are, and learn to find peace in their presence rather than hiding them in the shadows. There should be no part of your life that you hide from yourself.
Inner Peace As A Process: How To Pave The Way For Peace
Inner peace doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You don’t wake up troubled and disconnected one day and then peaceful and content the next.
Too many modern-day thinkers treat inner peace as a kind of radiofrequency that you can tap into.
For people who aren’t exactly spiritual like me, this brand of philosophy makes inner peace seem like a faraway dream, accessible only to those who have been practicing spirituality for years.
In reality, inner peace is more of a process.
For the most part, achieving inner peace involves a lot of “shedding”. You shed away bad thoughts and bad behaviors that keep you from feeling that sense of tranquility and quiet.
People unknowingly enact a lot of self-destructive behavior that stops them from achieving inner peace.
These toxic habits sap our mental strength and put our focus on the wrong things, which creates that feeling of imbalance and disquiet.
The good news is that achieving inner peace isn’t a laborious process.
There are little adjustments you can make to your everyday behavior that will improve not only your state of mind but also your overall quality of life.
1) Stop Excessive Self-Blame
There’s a thing as too much accountability. It’s fine to step up and accept responsibility for mistakes, but it’s not healthy to be so self-righteous about it.
Strike a balance by recognizing the consequences of your actions, while also taking into account that sometimes there are things outside your control.
2) Ditch The Victim Mentality
On the other side of the spectrum lies the victim mentality. If you’re constantly finding external reasons to justify your behavior and your life, you’ll never learn how to take responsibility for your own actions.
The victim mentality traps you in your own mind, convincing you that it’s yourself VS the world. This mindset makes you self-conscious, stopping you from experiencing life more openly.
3) Be Aware Of People Pleasing
You could spend your entire lifetime trying to please everyone you know and even then not everyone will find you agreeable.
Seeking admiration and acceptance from others prevents you from acting on your own free will.
When you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, wondering how your boss, parents, friends, or peers will respond to what you do, you’ll never fully embrace who you are and find peace with your decisions.
4) Say Goodbye To Grudges
Holding a grudge is a form of self-consolation. When we stay mad at people, we convince ourselves that we’re punishing them.
In reality, all you’re doing is wasting your mental energy on someone who doesn’t care about what you think of them.
Built-up resentment stops you from achieving inner peace because you’re stuck in an isolated event. Without the ability to move on, you’re shielding yourself from new experiences and opportunities.
5) Stop Chasing Perfection
Perfection is another form of excess that must be shed away. People who strive for perfection train their minds not to settle for anything else.
As a result, they easily become dissuaded and only work toward things that offer assured self-gratification.
Inner peace, on the other hand, is about being comfortable with your strengths and weaknesses. It’s being comfortable in who you are right now, and being patient in molding who you can become.
How Can Anyone Achieve Inner Peace?
The best way to think about inner peace is some sort of muscle.
Like any muscle in the body, you don’t start with a strong, buff version of it.
If you want to make the most of your muscle, you have to constantly work towards building it.
The best thing about treating inner peace as a muscle is its accessibility
Every single person on Earth has this special muscle.
You don’t have to be spiritual or anything like that to experience the benefits of achieving inner peace.
Despite being irreligious, I found the teaching of Buddhism to be comforting, not because they affirmed what I know of spirituality or enlightenment, but because its tenets focused on practical, everyday applications.
While I was trying to shift my mindset and change my own life, I encountered one too many resources trying to complicate an otherwise straightforward concept.
When I dug deep into the source and skipped the convoluted jargon, I realized inner peace is a simple everyday practice; so simple in fact that these concepts felt familiar, if not a little obvious.
No-Nonsense Exercises To Achieve Inner Peace
Going through Buddhist teachings and multiple articles online was laborious, but it ultimately led me to discover five crucial components of inner peace.
These five practical exercises set the foundation for a peaceful, content experience:
1) Learn How To Reach Mindfulness
How you can do it:
- Turn off distractions when you are engaged in an activity
- Challenge yourself to work uninterrupted for a set number of minutes, and increase that everyday
- Spend 2-5 minutes focusing on a single object everyday. Focus on its physical properties (shape, color, touch, weight) and nothing else
Mindfulness is another Buddhist concept that feels mystic, no thanks to pseudo philosophers.
Mindfulness is really just learning how to channel your attention on a specific event, activity, or thought.
Learning how to reach mindfulness can keep you from getting distracted, whether it’s intrusive negative thoughts or some other external stimuli.
I know how important living mindfully is because it helped to turn my life around.
Did you know that I was once a guy in my mid-20s who was lifting boxes all day in a warehouse with way too much useless thinking about the past and future inside my head?
I was miserable, anxious and under-achieving in life.
The turning point for me was when I dived into Buddhism and eastern philosophy.
What I learned changed my life forever. I started to let go of the things that were weighing me down and live more fully in the moment.
Just to be clear: I’m not a Buddhist. I have no spiritual inclinations at all. I’m just a regular guy who turned to eastern philosophy because I was at rock bottom.
If what I’m saying resonates with you, check out my new book on living a better life through eastern philosophy.
I wrote this book for one reason…
When I first discovered Buddhism, I had to wade through some really convoluted writing.
There wasn’t a book that distilled all this valuable wisdom in a clear, easy-to-follow way, with practical techniques and strategies.
So I decided to write this book myself. The one I would’ve loved to have read when I first started out.
Here’s a link to my book again.
2) Constantly Challenge Negative Thoughts
How you can do it:
- End personal thoughts with “but…” plus a positive affirmation such as “I didn’t work as much today but I can always do better tomorrow”
- Learn the difference between healthy criticism and negative self-blaming
- Be mindful of negative thought patterns by recording them through a journal
Curating your own thoughts gives you control over the “noise” in your own head.
Negative thoughts are an inevitable part of consciousness; understanding how to navigate difficult emotions without imploding is the very definition of inner peace.
3) Develop Healthy Relationships
Although inner peace manifests from the inside-out, it’s important to create an environment that allows inner peace to develop.
Healthy relationships limit the “noise” you experience on a day-to-day basis, making it easier to focus on yourself especially if you’re starting from scratch.
Here’s how to go about developing healthier relationships:
- Establish healthy boundaries in your professional and personal life
- Cut toxic people out of your life and focus on healthy, happy relationships
- Set personal standards for friendships and relationships and don’t feel bad about upholding them
A resource I highly recommend to help you develop healthy relationships is Ideapod’s extremely powerful free masterclass on love and intimacy.
In this 60-minute masterclass, world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê will help you to identify healthy relationships from those that are toxic so that you can be empowered to make a change. Most importantly, he’ll also teach you a powerful relationship-building framework which you can start applying today.
The thing is, Rudá Iandê isn’t your typical shaman.
While he does spend time with indigenous tribes in the Amazon, sing shamanic songs and bang his drums, he’s different in an important way. Rudá has made shamanism relevant for modern day society.
He communicates and interprets its teachings for people living regular lives. People like me and you.
Check out the masterclass here.
What I learned from taking Rudá Iandê’s masterclass is that the relationship I have with myself is mirrored in my relationship with others. I realized it was very important for me to develop a better relationship with myself.
A word of warning. The teachings Rudá shares in this masterclass aren’t for everyone. He doesn’t help you to avoid your fears or sugarcoat what’s happening in your life.
This masterclass is for you if you appreciate honest and direct advice and want to be honest with yourself about what’s needed to change your life.
4) Make Meditation A Personal Habit
How you can do it:
- Set aside 10-15 minutes of your time everyday to follow a guided meditation video or podcast
- Engage in a hobby that requires 100% of your attention like painting, reading, or solving a puzzle
- Define your preferred meditation goals and method
Meditation is different for everybody. You don’t have to sit down legs crossed and hum “ohm” for 15 minutes if that’s not your thing.
Meditation is just a process to get into a mindful and meditative state. Figuring out what works for you will make it easier to wind down and turn it into a habit.
5) Practice Non-Attachment
How you can do it:
- Seek and give out forgiveness, even if it’s just in your mind
- Accept shortcomings as they come to become more accustomed to imperfection
- Declutter every three months to practice non-attachment to material things
Attachment and commitment are two very different things. When we become attached to attention, fame, or a certain idea of ourselves, we tend to ignore everything else in blind pursuit of that one objective.
Non-attachment teaches us not to dive too deep into the past or future so we can have the space to really experience the present.
Personally, I know finding inner peace isn’t as simple as reading an article, which is why I break it down further in my 96-page eBook.
In my eBook, The No No-Nonsense Guide to Using Buddhism, I expound on the five components above, and also go into:
- An introduction to Buddhism and Eastern Philosophy
- Exercises to help you achieve confidence
- Practical advice to help you manage stress and anxiety
- Insights from other eastern philosophies such as Hinduism, Taoism, Jainism, and Sikhism
- A step-by-step morning routine for achieving mindfulness
- Self-help guide for dealing with your enemies and other unpleasant people in your life
Finding these Buddhist secrets and turning them into secular, everyday exercises has drastically changed the way I feel about myself and the world around me.
I feel calm now in ways I never thought was possible, and so I want to share that opportunity with as many people as possible because I know I’m not the only one feeling a little lost and dazed.
Preserving Inner Peace
With too many distractions and interruptions posing to intrude in our lives, inner peace is the reliable self-sustaining bubble you can use against the impositions of the modern world.
But reaching that peak is just the first half of the process.
Going back to the muscle analogy, inner peace is something you have to constantly work on. Like any other muscle, it will atrophy if you don’t work on strengthening it everyday.
Follow these basic rules to protect your inner peace:
- Keep an eye out for greed. As you feel more peaceful, you’ll feel the need to shake things up once in a while. Wanting more than you need will only disrupt feelings of content.
- Watch out for defensive behavior. Inner peace is about accepting who you are — including your shortcomings. Be receptive to people’s criticism without falling into victimhood or self-blaming.
- Although inner peace is about living in the present, practice a more open approach to what’s coming from the future. Don’t be afraid of uncharted territory.
- Relinquish unnecessary control, whether it’s over yourself or other people. In preserving your inner peace, you have to be accepting of what comes, especially when it’s from sources you can’t predict or control.
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