Inner peace has become a luxury. We live in a convulsed society that “forces” us to lead a hectic lifestyle in which we do not stop for a second. If we neglect, we will be swept away by a whirlwind of tasks, most of them insignificant, but which do not leave us a free minute.
We are so imbued with that frenetic pace that sometimes, when we have a little time for ourselves, we feel guilty. Guilty because we should be doing something more productive. However, there is a time when it is necessary to stop and say “enough!” Enough to situations with no meaning and to an oppressive pace of life. Enough to social pressures, to all those meaningless tasks and to the pursuit of perfection.
Reencounter inner peace is fundamental to our well-being and happiness. From time to time it is essential to relax a bit, take a break and reorder our priorities. It is a change that is worth it.
What is inner peace?
Tranquility is not the same as peace. The current world sells us a quiet, artificial and anesthetized peace that we can access simply by placing a “do not disturb” sign. This space of tranquility is important, there is no doubt, since it allows us to rest, but it is not the peace we need.
The inner peace is a subjective sensation of well-being, it is impalpable but very real since it fills us with a deep tranquility. It is a state in which we free ourselves from our main concerns, fears, stress and suffering.
However, inner peace involves much more than freedom from negative emotions and feelings, it also means being aware of the wonders of life and feeling fully connected to the universe and to ourselves.
Inner peace is a sense of calm in which we stop fighting against negative and disturbing thoughts and emotions, although that does not mean that they do not exist but that they stop dominating us and causing us harm, because we do not give them excessive importance or allow them to become recurring concerns. It is a state in which we separate mentally and emotionally from everyday problems and conflicts, we assume a psychological distance to enjoy serenity.
Can inner peace be achieved?
Many people think that it is impossible to reach that state of inner peace. They affirm that everyday life is so uncertain and sometimes so capricious that it is not possible to find serenity because problems are always crouching around the corner, waiting to attack us at any moment. It is true. It cannot be denied that life carries a large dose of uncertainty. The key is in the locus of control.
When we have a locus of control external and any situation has the power to influence us negatively and make us lose our calm, it is impossible to find inner peace. People with a locus of control external are like leaves moved by the wind that will not find peace even in the best moments, because they will be thinking of all the misfortunes that can be outlined on the horizon.
However, this does not imply that it is impossible to achieve inner peace. When we have a locus of control internal we can decide which wars are worth fighting. If instead of just reacting, we take control and decide with which attitude face the problems, taking the reins of our lives, we can aspire to develop a lasting inner peace.
Therefore, inner peace is not something that is found along the way by chance, it is a personal decision, it is something we build consciously putting into practice behaviors and thoughts that lead us to serenity.
Where to find inner peace?
A monk who was searching inner peace and enlightenment retreated to a small deserted and remote island. He promised not to be angry, sad or euphoric anymore but simply to really be with himself in peace.
He also promised himself not to leave that island and be content with his own company. He chose a place, sat down near a tree, stood still and meditated. After many years of meditation and silence, he thought that he had attained enlightenment. He felt calm, revitalized and fresh, in complete harmony with that island and himself.
He was so happy that he decided to send a letter to his old master, thanking him for his teachings, and telling him that he had attained enlightenment, that nothing in the world was bothering him and that he would never leave that placid island.
The monk received an answer. He opened the letter with enthusiasm and, to his surprise, only read a series of insults against him. The monk was so angry that decided to leave the island to go ask his former master for an explanation.
When they met, he asked what those insults meant. The master smiled and said:
– You said that you were enlightened, that nothing in the world overwhelmed you and that you would not leave the island for any reason. If a few words can make you so angry and make you forget everything you’ve said, are you really at peace with yourself?
This Buddhist parable, in tune with the words of Virginia Woolf: “You cannot find peace by avoiding life”, gives us a great lesson: inner peace is something that we find inside ourselves. The peace that is achieved by evading reality and problems is an artificial peace that will shatter as soon as adversity knocks at our door, as happened to the monk.
That means that inner peace is not only built in the midst of serenity and tranquility but also in the midst of the storm. Inner peace is tempered in adversity.
9 keys to develop inner peace
- Dedicate time to introspection
Dedicate less hours to reading newspapers and listening to the news and more time to explore your interior. When you allow your mind to absorb the negativity transmitted by most of the media, it is very difficult to cleanse it. It is not about creating a happy and artificial bubble around you, but it is advisable that you schedule less toxic mental habits and make sure you spend time alone with yourself. It is not about turning the problems around but about making peace with yourself. The inner peace comes from feeling comfortable with your decisions, thoughts and emotions, and for this you need to constantly update your self-image.
- Accept “negative” thoughts and emotions
Finding inner peace means, first of all, balance. Therefore, you will not be able to find serenity if you continue battling against “negative” thoughts and emotions, or if you try to hide them in the most recondite place of your mind. To achieve inner peace it is necessary that you practice radical acceptance, accept these thoughts and emotions. In fact, when you learn to live them, they will lose their power over you and you will be free of their burden. Remember that “negative” thoughts and emotions do not hurt you, what hurts you and snatches your peace is to cling to them.
- Avoid destructive criticism
We all have the tendency to compare, draw conclusions and then criticize. However, negative criticism is the worst enemy of inner peace. Criticism not only harms the person who is criticized but also the one who makes that value judgment. It is usually an expression of mental rigidity and rejection of reality. The problem is that negative criticism will plunge you into a state of permanent dissatisfaction that takes you away from the serenity you want to achieve. That does not mean you have to accept everything, but that you have to learn to differentiate between constructive criticism that leads to positive change and destructive criticism whose consequences are always negative. It is about learning to not judge and be more tolerant and flexible.
- Simplify your life
Sometimes you would like the day to have more than 24 hours? You cannot extend the day, but you can simplify your life, so that you can take advantage of every minute. Every so often, it is convenient that you stop and ask yourself if you are doing what you really like or if you are wasting time uselessly. Think about how you can simplify your life so you can spend more time on the things that really matter to you and bring you happiness and satisfaction. Remember that maturity is not in adding more and more, but in subtracting needing less and less to be happy.
- Practice gratitude
Do not let a single day pass without feeling grateful for something. There is always something for which to give thanks, you just have to learn to value the things we take for granted, such as the simple fact of living or having at our side people who love us and who we love. When we begin to feel grateful for what we have, instead of complaining about what we do not have, we rediscover a new inner balance. Gratitude is one of the keys that open the door to serenity and happiness.
- Give without expecting to receive in return
Many people expect to receive always something in return, they turn interpersonal relationships into commercial relationships. When they do not receive the expected reward, they get angry. Therefore, if you want to achieve inner peace, you must divest yourself of selfishness and rediscover the pleasure implied by the act of giving, simply by helping or doing a good deed. Giving must be rewarding enough in and of itself. Feel good about yourself for what you have done.
- Learn to be fully present
“If you feel depressed, you are living in the past, if you feel anxious, you are living in the future. If you feel at peace, you are living in the present”, says a Lao Tzu’s phrase about inner peace. Many times we live overwhelmed because we are between the faults of the past and the worries of the future. Learning to be fully present, in what Buddhists call “the eternal instant,” will allow you to find peace in what you are doing, whatever it may be. In fact, you can practice different mindfulness exercises every day, it is not even necessary that you sit down to meditate.
- Do not cling, let go
Throughout our lives we accumulate a lot of resentment, a feeling that end up hurting and preventing us from achieving that inner peace that we so crave. Therefore, it is essential that you learn to let go those feelings and thoughts that affect you and keep you tied to the past. It is also essential that you learn to practice detachment, even with the goals you have set for yourself. Life flows, if you cling you will be stuck fighting against the current, which will exhaust you emotionally and physically. The visualization technique “the leaves of the river” will help you understand that everything changes.
- Calm your mind
Every day we face hundreds or thousands of stimuli. Our mind is in a state of constant hyperstimulation that prevents us from finding serenity. Therefore, it is convenient that you spend at least a few minutes a day to practice meditation or relaxation. Learn to empty your mind and free it of all daily worries. This video of relaxing music will help you find inner peace even in the most complicated moments.