Inner peace may seem like a mythical peak. Almost unachievable, far away, maybe even unreal for many. In fact, for almost every single one of us. Indeed, very few can rightly claim “I feel calm right now” in a midst of stressful situations, worries or problems requiring immediate attention.
However, there is a secret. The only way to achieve the fabled inner peace is to embrace the fact that it is only marginally defined by outer circumstances. Mainly, it is a choice you must make for yourself. You can be calm and peaceful in any situation by surprisingly, simply choosing to. This requires constant practice, but with practice your inner peace can become a habit, and then, a reality.
So, these are the steps you may start with. Even by following these few suggestions, and constantly reminding yourself about them, you can make, eventually, inner peace your normal state of mind.
Simplicity contributes to inner peace because it allows you to direct your energy and effort into one single point. Get rid of everything that hinders you, including acquaintances and friends who may only drain you while giving you nothing in return. Remember that the key is always quality over quantity. Throw out or give away everything that you don’t really need. Every time you buy something new, ask yourself whether you can do without it, whether it’s really necessary to you. Don’t let unnecessary information like TV news or gossip into your life. Keep it simple and at all times stay focused on one or two tasks that matter.
2. Direct your mind on the present moment
The only time that truly exists is this present moment. Past was, once, the present and future will once too, become the present. For all that matters, you should not obsess yourself by things gone. Or by the unpredictable future, which is in fact nothing more than your fantasy. So be focused on the present. Give all your best to it, and simply live. Don’t let the real, present moment go by because you live in the past or in the future.
3. Express gratitude
Stop and think about how fortunate you really are. Your mind may constantly wander off in the future, and desire something new. Yet if you are reading this article, you probably are relatively well off. Just think about the fact that 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day. Or that 20% can not even read or write.
Try to think about all the things you have, there sure are plenty. Then realize that your mind is, at times, your worst enemy. Remember that even if you get what you hope for at this instant, your mind will very soon find some new object of desire. This is a vicious circle you can only break by expressing gratitude for what you already have or achieved, more and often. Even for the simplest things we otherwise take for granted.
4. Try it someone else’s way
Your point of view should not be a law. Do not hold to it and be quick to let it go whenever it gets shaken by a better logic or opinion. When you find yourself in an argument, do not make a battle out of it. Remember that argument should be a synonym to discussion. If you find yourself on a losing side, be strong enough to accept a flaw in your opinion and thank a person for enriching your perspective. At all costs, keep your mind open. Life is a constant growth and motion, and whoever clings to his fixed ways, is eventually left alone behind.
5. Remember that everything will pass
Look around yourself and ponder for a while about the fact that everything – EVERYTHING – will once pass. Time can be generous, but ultimately, it is indifferent. However dark it may sound, everything and everybody will eventually perish. Nothing is forever, so how senseless it is to wage little personal wars with people you happen to dislike, or to give into sorrow over a break-up? Time will heal even the deepest wounds, but it will work faster if you don’t scratch them… So, quite often, the best option is to simply let time resolve the problem. Because it inevitably will, eventually.
That’s right, just smile. A simple smile does wonders. It can help to soften hearts, make “no” into “yes” and instantly change mood of others as well as your own. Smile to members of your family, smile to your coworkers, smile to everybody you meet. Smile even to yourself in the mirror if there’s nobody else around. Smile is deeply connected to Love. And what you give, comes back to you later. Notice that it’s impossible to sincerely smile and to experience anger, sorrow or jealousy at the same time. While smiling, you can’t help but feel calmness, happiness and love.
7. Take your time
Be patient. Enjoy your life as a kind of journey. Everything will happen when the time is right. Good or bad, all is finely interconnected and you can not be defeated until you yourself proclaim capitulation. Remember something bad that happened to you? Try to think of what good it also gave you. If this “bad” experience didn’t happen, how much different you’d be from your current self? Try to appreciate small things in life, good or bad. And take your time.
8. Finish what you start
Or in other words, close the circle. Your unfinished business (unforgiven griefs, unspoken words, started but unfinished projects or tasks) is a heavy burden for your present consciousness and peace. Try to notice just how often they pop-up in the back of your mind, leading to anxiety and dragging you down. If there is a thing you started but definitely don’t want to finish, take your time to think deeply about it and make a mental final check-line next to it. Then be sure to never go back to it again.
9. Keep calm
If you find yourself agitated, take few deep breaths and wait to fully calm down before taking any kind of action or decision. Rushing anything leads only to poor outcomes. The ability to keep calm and focused amidst chaos and changes is a true sign of inner peace. This one is closely connected to another advice about keeping your mind in the present moment. Because look around you… Is there really anything that bad to disturb your calm self, or is it just you imagining the future or reliving the past?
10. Do not make money your priority
Always remember that money is just a means to achieve something, not a goal in itself. So what do you have in mind? What is the purpose of money you are working so hard for? Always think before-head why do you work, and what is the purpose of your work. Would you keep doing what you do now if money would not be an issue? If your answer is a definitive no, then there is a serious reason to slow down and reflect. Life is short, so try to find your passion, and think of a way to make money practicing it.
Alisa Imikiba is a traveler and illustrator, currently working from Bangkok. She has dedicated this year to drawing inspirational pictures like ones above, one piece for each and every day. You can keep in touch with her and her work here.