Are you tired, angry, or overwhelmed? You’re not alone. We live in a world of non-stop advertisements, constant stimulation, and the ever-invasive push notification. In fact, we just received one… make that two…we mean three. Wasn’t the smartphone supposed to make life more convenient? Don’t get us wrong, this isn’t some misguided rant about the evils of smartphones because distractions come from everywhere. Even driving alone can turn into a barrage of radio commercials. When’s the last time you drove listening to nothing but the hum of your car? The reprieve from noise can be peaceful, relaxing, and freeing. It harkens to the quote: “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” There’s debate about its origin, but whether it flowed from the heart of Buddha or over the lips of Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius, this wisdom has never been so urgently needed.
We believe technological advances bring us closer together, yet we feel more alone, distant, and disconnected. At restaurants, couples no longer speak to one another because they’re too busy connecting with the world. At playgrounds, young children compete with technology for their parent’s attention, not realizing it’s a competition they’ve already lost. For too many, family time is silently watching television instead of talking, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. It seems the more connected we are, the emptier we feel, and the emptier we feel, the more connection we seek. Breaking this cycle won’t happen overnight and will be more complicated than just putting our devices away. To achieve success, we must look inward, refocus our priorities, and begin our journey toward inner peace.
The world may be chaotic, but there are many paths leading to inner peace; here are our top four:
1. Get Quiet
Sometimes the best solution is also the simplest . This is one of those times. How do you get quiet? Easy, start by turning the radio and television off and putting your phone down. As for the modern siren song known as the push notification, silence it before it leaves you mentally shipwrecked. Without these distractions, you’ll have more time to invest in activities that foster inner peace, like meditation. Practiced for millennia, the art of meditation allows practitioners to access heightened planes of mental awareness through silent, trance-like states of hyper-focus. Today, we replace this ancient tradition with the modern ritual of sneaking into the bathroom for five minutes of quiet time (don’t lie, we’ve all done it). Ask yourself, is scrolling social media on the toilet the most effective way to recenter? If this were Jeopardy, the correct answer would be, What is: not at all? While there are countless paths to introspective reflection, such as spending time in nature, it doesn’t matter which you follow to incorporate quiet time into your busy life. All that matters is that you do.
2. Get Physical
Have you ever noticed that people who exercise are happier than those who don’t? A 2020 National Library of Medicine study states, “Physical activity [is] significantly related to better life satisfaction and happiness in young, middle-aged, and older adults.” I’m not saying that spending eight hours a day in the gym is a prerequisite for inner peace. The entire idea is to remain physically active, which could be doing yard work each Saturday, going for walks after dinner, or participating in outdoor activities. Instead of going to extremes, focus on making incremental changes that improve your health, increase your quality of life, and bring about inner peace. For us, the gym is where we refocus our mind and recenter our soul. For years, it was where we went to get bigger, stronger, and faster. Since then, we’ve adopted a mindset that values optimal performance over peak performance, and it’s changed our life. Physical fitness is about making healthy choices, building positive habits, and pursuing progress, not perfection.
3. Get Writing
Even if you’re not the next Ernest Hemingway or Ania Ahlborn, writing is one of the most effective ways to clear your mind and foster inner peace. That means you don’t need to write a literary masterpiece to benefit from this technique; a simple journal will suffice as long as it silences the world outside and awakens the one within. Additionally, writing reduces stress, improves immune functions, and increases mental dexterity. Journal each morning or evening, whether you feel like it or not. Write down thoughts from your day or future goals. Just make it habitual. The next time you feel overwhelmed, have a good idea, or make it through a rough day, start writing. All that matters is you get in the habit of painting the page with your thoughts because, in this chaotic world, it’s vital to declutter your mind, and writing does just that.
4. Get Creative
There are two groups of people in this world, those who are creative and those who wish they were. We’re not referring to the talent of those we recognize as artists, but instead the simple joy of artistic self-expression that inspires a young child to grab a crayon and draw. We firmly identify with second camp. We can’t paint the human form, sing breathtaking melodies, or write beautiful lines of prose. But we can still create; everyone can. There’s something magical about transforming your feelings into something tangible. This magic brings with it happiness and the potential of inner peace. Pick up a pencil and paper, get the materials to build a bird house, or pull that old guitar out of the closet, and create. In the words of the late American writer Kurt Vonnegut, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.”
While finding the path to inner peace is not particularly difficult, following it is challenging. It helps to approach it like you would any other goal: prepared and with focused intention. After deciding that you’re ready for this journey, start making incremental lifestyle changes and building the habits that’ll move you toward your goal. Although we’re all busier than ever, we can still find time to meditate, exercise, write, or create; we just need to make it a priority.