There is a strange paradox in our society, we spend our days trying to catch up with everything that needs to get done – finishing work projects, answering hundreds of emails, settling arguments and resolving problems, yet deep inside the only thing we long for is serenity, tranquility and inner peace.
Most of us impatiently look forward to the weekends and summer vacations, hoping to snatch a few moments of peace and quiet and restore our physical and mental energy. We look for tranquility in the outside world, waiting for all the conditions to be just right. But the truth is that real, unshakable, all-encompassing peace comes from within.
There is no need to wait for it, when you can grow it under your feet.
Here are 9 Essential Steps to Cultivating Inner Peace:
In everyday life our thoughts determine our state of mind either adding to our happiness or causing a kind of mental unrest and frustration. While we can not always control our thoughts, we can consciously decide which thoughts to follow and which ones to reject. There are hundreds of different positive thinking techniques, but when it comes to cultivating inner peace and practicing awareness, there is nothing more effective and powerful than meditation. As little as 20 minutes of meditation a day will replenish your emotional resources and allow you to keep your cool when facing challenging situations.
2. Delegate your worries to the Universe
If phrases like “have faith” and “trust the Universe” sound somewhat generic to you, try the following:
Every time you catch yourself worrying over a situation that you have no control over, take a piece of paper and write your worries and problems on it. Then fold this paper up and put it into a special ‘worry box’ with a big sign “Universe” on it. View it as a gesture of shifting the weight of your challenges and preoccupations over to Higher Powers. After the piece of paper is placed in the box, it is no longer your problem. The only thing that is required of you is to believe that the situation will resolve itself in the best possible way.
3. Do not over plan and over think
We often lose peace of mind by bringing tomorrow’s problems into the present moment. We unnecessary overcomplicate our life by endless planning and playing ‘what if’ scenarios in our mind. While setting goals and having aspirations is important do not let your groundless fears take your focus away from the beauty, peace and joy of today. This is what living in the moment and practicing awareness is all about.
4. Do not become enslaved by ‘the stuff’
Huh! This is easier said than done. After all we live in a material world and we have obligations to our family, mortgage, bills and car payments. How can we not worry about it? Of course, we do. But as my mentor used to say, there is also no point in being “the wealthiest skeleton in the grave yard”. Our time and energy on this earth is limited and should be spent purposely. Think of how much you really need to lead a happy and satisfying life. Can you manage to do it without a 42’ plasma TV or without your favorite wine glass set? If so then why obsess over these things or worry about not being able to buy them?
5. Do not take other people’s problems upon your shoulders
There is nothing wrong with feeling compassion and wanting to help those who are going through tough times. But I often witness people shifting their attention away from their own personal problems to the misfortunes of others, worrying about their co-workers, little-known acquaintances and even their favorite reality show protagonists.
Can you really do something about the situation? Can you help? If you can, do it. If you cannot pray for the person and return to Step #2!
6. Do not be dragged down by guilt
We have all done things we are not proud of. If we could go back and change them, we would, but we cannot. What happened in the past is gone and there is nothing you or I can do about it. Feeling guilty for past mistakes will not rectify them. It only burdens us down and robs us of peace of mind. Learn from your past, but be willing to forgive yourself and move on.
7. Become criticism-proof
Do not take criticism and negativity personally. There is a huge difference between what people say and what they mean. But there is even greater difference between what people do and who they really are.
8. Finish what you start
There is a special type of memory responsible for remembering all of the tasks and objectives left incomplete. Until we get these tasks done our mind will continue to remind us about them, even when we try to focus on new goals. It seems to be in human nature to finish what we have started, and often restoring peace of mind and getting rid of inner tension is just a matter of bringing unfinished tasks to a completion. (You can follow my Drop The Tails strategy for closing all the open loops)
9. Stay away from inertia
Many of us associate inner peace with a long vacation on some tropical island. You know lying on the beach with a glass of Mojito, listening to seagulls and just plain do nothing? While this may be relaxing for a while, it hardly brings inner peace and a sense of satisfaction that we all are looking for. Inertia and lethargy do not help you to live a purposeful life. Just like lying on a couch and watching TV does nothing to rid mental unrest and inner anxiety.
True inner peace and satisfaction comes from living a purposeful life, empowering others, and pursuing meaningful goals. I do not know about you, but I feel a lot more peaceful and content after one purpose-filled day than after a long vacation of doing nothing.