Once you hit 40, you realize that you need inner peace to be happy. Right? But, is there a shortcut to happiness? Do you absolutely need to meditate and take yoga classes? The purpose of this piece is to help you become more balanced and consequently live the best life fast. Here are 11 ways to achieve inner peace and happiness for living the best life. These tools are highly empowering, and they help develop a sense of peace in yourself, as well as in your relationships with your environment and fellow humans.
What is inner peace?
“…inner peace means an awakening to an ultimate inseparability between our own well-being and happiness and that of others, which inspires us to make an effort to gratify the basic needs of all and promote our freedom and justice and that of others equally.” Juichiro Tanabe, 2006
Watch this amazing video about inner peace:
Wayne Dyer put it best:
Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”
What are the best ways to become happy, calm, peaceful, serene, balanced and compassionate?
11 ways to inner peace explained
1. Focus your attention
Focus your full attention on what you are doing. When you wash the dishes examine the detergent bubbles, watch your hands move slowly, engage all your senses in the activity. Count the moves you make or the breaths you take so that your monkey mind doesn’t jump from one thought to another making it impossible for the experience to be fully perceived and enjoyed. Concentrate on concentrating rather than rejecting your thoughts as they arise. Gently let them go and go back to the bubbles.
2. Stop gossiping
This is the first task you should assign yourself immediately. Keep things to yourself. Sharing is caring, but sharing stressful experiences brings bad energy to you and others. Before opening your mouth think of 3 things: is it helpful, is it needed and does it make you and the other happy.
If you start controlling yourself when you speak about a person who is not present, you soon realize that your conscience clears up and you feel inner peace. The more you gain control over yourself, the more you like yourself and become content yet feel the need to progress every day.
As Lao Tzu put it:
“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”
3. Be aware and allow life to unfold naturally
It sounds almost impossible, but with practice it becomes the way you always act in your daily life. The time between the moment a thought is formed and the order given by the brain that materializes it in a certain action is something you cannot control or follow. Most of the time you are on automatic pilot, and you don’t know why you do the things you do, think specific thoughts or feel certain emotions. It is life-altering to experience acting after being aware of the thinking-acting process.
Some of the effects are: you need to meditate alone, you move more slowly than usual, you speak less and listen more, you quit entertainment like binge-watching series, smoking, alcohol, you slowly let go of all activities that are not part of your self-work, you look younger and become wiser.
4. Meditate. All the time.
I know, I know, meditation is so popular these days it sounds like a trend or a way to become lit. Well, meditating can be done everywhere. It does not necessarily mean sitting facing a wall in zazen (which I enjoy greatly, but do not recommend unless you decide to give it a try as part of your own self-development program). To put it simply, it means harnessing your thoughts until there are no thoughts.
Meditation may be a very awkward experience at first. You may have sexual thoughts, think of the shopping list, feel hate and remorse or remember good and bad memories. With practice, the mind becomes quiet. You can also meditate when you drive paying attention to how the red light changes into green, what people are wearing, what the weather is like. You may think that sitting on a cushion and driving have nothing in common. Try to be aware of what is going on during both activities in the same way, with the same pleasure and drive.
5. Choose a guru. Then forget them.
You cannot truly know or appreciate something unless you also experience the opposite. You know you are happy because you are not unhappy. For instance, you like yourself better now because you lost weight and you hated the old fat you. To paraphrase Alan Watts: your enemies show you how great you are, so thank God for the enemies.
Gurus are here to guide us to ourselves and to our inner peace through meditation. Just like parents and teachers, gurus play a role in our lives. They are not perfect, we will probably never become perfect either, but we become a better version of ourselves while spending our time with a spiritual teacher. They also had their teachers. The first teacher had a teacher. But none of the students is a mere copy of their teacher. You all fly from the nest and do your own thing. You owe it to yourself to acquire knowledge until you become a majestic eagle flying solo.
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6. Forget your likes and dislikes
The duality of our minds is the system that helps us process and understand the world. The challenge to drop judgment and stop categorizing experiences (good, bad or neutral) is huge. The great thing about not categorizing is that you can use your energy creating non-judgmental stuff such as art, writing, or even just reading mindfully. Meditate frequently to clear your mind.
7. Trust another for inner peace
This tool is about trusting another and accepting the idea that things may not go as you planned. Hope becomes an empty word once you realize that the world moves in unexpected and mysterious ways. By default, you need to trust the other drivers in traffic, the pilot of the plane and the waiter who brings you food. You also trust the Universe to bring exactly what you need your way, in order to become the best version of yourself. Then trust anyone because it is a simple way to think happy thoughts and gain inner peace.
8. Stop assigning meaning to everything
This is also a biggie, just like gossip. Try meditating (start with 5 minutes a day, it’s enough), go to NLP trainings and learn how much of your existence is just models and patterns. You will learn how to snap out of your “old ways” pretty fast.
The process is quite strenuous. Every time you reach a conclusion about something, you will explore the reasons behind your judgment and then strip the pure experience off the biases and preconceptions you had been passed on by your family, teachers, society.
Realize that the world as you know it today is an illusion. Start examining everything. Refuse to watch television, turn off the news completely. Treat yourself with soothing music, baths, and a book, not with binge activities like drinking and Netflix series. Make inner peace a priority and cultivate reflection.
9. Look at yourself through the other person’s eyes
Yes, look at yourself in the mirror of someone’s eyes. While looking at them, switch places and try to intently see yourself through their eyes. Something magical happens then. A bit frightening at first, but so deep and meaningful.
The question to ask yourself then is: Who and what is this person my interlocutor sees and listens to? What do people see and hear when they talk to me?
10. Have goals and then detach yourself from them
You want a better house, a better job, a better girlfriend or boyfriend. Or maybe you want more time or more money or both.
The thing is, you need to want something badly to be able to detach from it in a constructive non-passive way. Too much wanting brings disaster. Not wanting anything at all brings the abyss. You cannot live in a world of complete detachment, as your reality is built on the idea of avoiding death at any cost. Imagine you are completely detached from everything. Suicide is likely the next step. And human beings don’t act in that spirit. Life is a gift you need to protect. Look at all your desires with compassion and equanimity. Understand why you want things, and remove the wants that do not serve your inner peace.
11. Slow down for inner peace
A spiritual teacher once told me: “Next time you get into your car, pause for a second before you turn the key in the ignition. Do it slowly. Meditate. Be aware of what is going on.” There is a plethora of concepts related to the idea of slowing down and becoming aware; the modern slow living and downshifting, Patanjali’s Samyama and the Chinese Wu Wei are timeless ways of attaining maximum human potential. Read more about slowing down here:
The 11 ways that help you find inner peace are:
- Focus your attention
- Stop gossiping
- Be aware and allow life to unfold naturally
- Meditate. All the time.
- Choose a guru. Then forget them.
- Forget your likes and dislikes
- Trust another
- Stop assigning meaning to everything
- Look at yourself through the other person’s eyes
- Have goals and then detach yourself from them
- Slow down
Final thoughts on inner peace
Stop gossiping today. Focus and meditate all the time. Try self-help books and yoga classes to discover your true potential. Good and bad are just interpretations of reality, so live your life in your own flow, not according to what others tell you. See what others see in you and slow down. Trust everyone and everything. Drive mindfully. Set goals and don’t achieve them.
You are the sole genuine expert in yourself. Once you start examining the world with love, compassion, understanding and mindfulness, you discover we are all the same, we are all connected and we are trying to live the best life.
Vivi has been writing about the process of self-realization through mindfulness and compassion since the age of six. She helps people know themselves and live their best life. Vivi has been teaching English and Romanian to 10,000 + students since 1990, and she has been blogging about the role of cooking at the intersection of food and self-mastery using simple recipes and copyright food photos.