How do we reach and maintain a point of inner peace and happiness in such a seemingly unstable world?
Perhaps the answer lies within the mind of each of us. While natural disasters, political discord and failing economics are just a few of the things wreaking havoc on society, we must find a way to discover and maintain our own peaceful inner world. As long as we continue to worry, panic, become angry, stressed or fall into depression, we are only adding to the chaos that we perceive in the world around us. So, how do we do it? How to we find inner peace?
There is so much more to changing our inner world than simply stating “I think I’ll have a positive outlook from now on.” While this seems the logical solution, it’s not so simple for most people otherwise; they’d have done it already. Attaining inner peace can be compared to building muscle. It has to be done over a period of time, but once it’s acquired, it’s fairly simple to maintain.
It took some time to develop all of our fears and doubts, so it’s going to take a little bit of time to unravel and override them. I know we often hear that it can be done overnight, but I would suggest that buying into that theory puts us at great risk of further fueling our fears and doubts. That’s not what we want. We want to find the true path to inner peace, not an unstable fast track. I’m not suggesting that it’s impossible to change our direction almost instantly, but I am suggesting that there is going to be some issues along the way and they need to be addressed before moving to the next step, otherwise we may find ourselves re-visiting the same steps over and over again. I strongly believe that we each hold within us the absolute power to transform our lives and create the reality that we want, however I also believe that it will take effort, commitment and determination to make it happen.
One of the key steps to attaining inner peace is acceptance. Simply understanding and accepting the fact that everything in this physical realm has its beginning and its end is the first step to inner peace and perhaps the most difficult part of the journey. Once we are able to accept this, we are half way there. Acceptance will eliminate the tendency to hold on to things and people too tightly. No matter what we do, we cannot control the ending of a job, relationship, material item or a life. We simply cannot. This is the part of reality that so many of us reject and is what causes us to not only live in fear, but to actually chase away the very thing or person we are trying to hold on to. This is also where living for the moment becomes important. Enjoy today, for we do not know how tomorrow will unfold.
The next step is the understanding that our fears are feeling based. There are two things that we are afraid of and only two. We are afraid of feeling pain, emotionally and physically. Every fear that we have is based on one of these two things. Grasping this concept will move us from the passenger’s seat into the driver’s seat because now we’re aware. Awareness plays a key role in finding inner peace because once we become aware of why it is that we feel a particular way, it is much easier to identify and change our thought process.
This brings me to the next key point in attaining inner peace. As I stated in the last paragraph, our fears are based on our feelings. So, what are our feelings based on? Our feelings are based on our thoughts. When we become aware that we’re feeling bad (fear, doubt, etc.) then we can immediately pay attention to our thoughts. What am I thinking right now that is causing me to feel this way? Once we have determined the source, we can work to change the thought or thoughts. This takes practice and will probably not be mastered overnight, but eventually, it will become a honed skill. This skill has the potential to completely transform our reality.
Another very important step is to learn to be patient and kind to ourselves and others. When patience is applied to every situation, an enormous amount of stress and worry is eliminated. Practicing kindness has an equal effect and in itself gives us a strong sense of joy and peace. After all, that is what we’re here to do.
Let’s recap: First accept the fact that we live in an ever-changing world and nothing lasts forever. Secondly, become aware and understand that most of our negative feelings derive from the fear of feeling pain, physically and/or emotionally. Now that we are aware, we can work on controlling the thoughts that are causing the fears. Lastly, but in no way least, be patient and kind. These are a few of the major key points in the achievement of inner peace. Like any achievement, inner peace is a skill that can be acquired over time and each day is better than the one that came before it.