13 Practical Steps to Inner Peace
Unflappable inner peace.
That is such a wonderfully descriptive phrase.
I have known some people who have found internal peace. They exude an inner calm even in the most trying circumstances.
They are fully present with everyone — gentle and accepting of themselves and others. They are slow to anger.
I often think about Atticus Finch in my favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird. He is a role model of inner peace.
There's a scene in which Atticus, the small town attorney defending a falsely accused black man, encounters Bob Ewell, the low-life white farmer who is the accuser.
A drunk Ewell calls Atticus a stream of filthy names and then spits in his face. With spittle covering his glasses, Atticus doesn't say a word but reaches for something in his pocket while staring at Bob Ewell.
Ewell flinches thinking Atticus is going to hit him, but instead…
Atticus pulls out a handkerchief and calmly wipes his face and glasses, then walks away.
Few people could maintain that state of equanimity in such a situation. (He is a book character after all.)
What I love about Atticus Finch is that he knows who he is and has inner peace with that. He doesn't have to prove himself by indulging in anger or retribution.
So many of us exist in a cloud of internal and external chaos.
Our lives are so over-scheduled that we go about our days frantic and preoccupied. It's hard to relax or fully enjoy life with all of the distractions and upsets.
You probably know people who are prone to creating problems and crises.
They even get off on the drama in a weird, unhealthy way. But inside they feel anxious, unsettled, and rarely content.
Others are born with a disposition that is calm and not prone to agitation. That's a lucky head-start, but lasting inner peace and the desire to make it a priority in life is a learned trait.
In a culture that venerates busyness and constant stimulation, you have to make peace a priority if you want to reap the benefits.
How to Find Inner Peace
Here are 13 practical actions you can take now.
1. Have nothing unresolved.
As opposed to just having things finished, completely clear up the larger unresolved issues in your life, both personally and professionally, that sap your energy and create other problems in your life.
Procrastination about these issues creates an accumulative emotional burden that drags you down.
Take the first action and get the ball rolling. You will feel a weight come off your shoulders.
2. Surrender and accept what is.
Finding inner peace is more about being than doing. It's about leaning toward rather than struggling against. It's about being fully present and focused on the task at hand.
Rather than resisting and fighting, just stop struggling. Resistance blocks energy and creativity.
How can you find a solution when you are flailing about and tensed up?
Take a deep breath and let go. Unhook yourself from the situation or person and view it from a detached perspective.
Often, once you surrender, the solution makes itself known to you.
3. Take responsibility for your reactions.
Other people don't make you behave in a certain way. You choose your behavior.
Decide who you want to be in all circumstances. Mentally prepare yourself and plan for a calm, unflappable response even during trying times.
If irritation or anger bubble to the surface, step away until you can return to the situation in a calm frame of mind.
4. Embrace feelings rather than ignoring them.
This means your own feelings as well as those of others. Don't shove away feelings because they are uncomfortable.
They are sending you a message. Take time to poke around those feelings to discover what is behind them.
If you don't, the feelings will come back in more unpleasant ways and really disrupt your peace.
5. Tell the entire truth.
Resist editing, lying, or translating. Be real.
Lay it on the table in a gentle and authentic way to yourself and others. Hiding the truth doesn't serve you in the long run.
Staying true to your integrity and values brings peace of mind. Acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses affords clarity.
Speaking your truth, even when it's uncomfortable or might risk offending others, relieves the inner tension of pretending.
6. Know your higher self.
Distinguish between your self versus your mind, ego, needs or past experience. Take the time to understand who you really are.
What are your values, your goals, your joys and passions, your integrity? Those are what define you and make you authentic.
Who are you beyond the roles you play in life and the reactions you have to those around you.
7. Unhinge from adrenaline.
Adrenaline is the drug of choice in our stressed-out culture. It gives us a jolt of superhuman energy when faced with a threat. But mostly we use it to get that rush to blast through the day.
An adrenaline lifestyle can do soul-damaging things: becoming a workaholic, being greedy, insistence on getting ahead or winning even at the expense of relationships.
Kick the adrenaline dependency. Slow down and find balance — or risk losing your health, your relationships, and your peace of mind.
8. Know what rattles your cage.
What makes you bristle or pushes your buttons?
There's a reason you react, and understanding the truth behind these feelings is the first step in addressing the problem or letting it go.
Keep asking yourself, “Why do I feel this way?” until you know the real answer. Then deal with the answer directly.
9. Step over nothing, even the small stuff.
Don't ignore even the smallest tolerations or imbalance in your life. Pay attention to the relationships that cause frustration or have unresolved problems.
You may not be able to change everything, but awareness and the ability to manage tolerations in a healthy way can bring you peace.
10. Prioritize peace ahead of performance.
Make an estimated guess on the days you have left to live.
Do you want to look back at your life and celebrate the rushing around, the completed “to do” lists, and the stuff?
Or do you want to reflect on days of calm, connectedness, great relationships, wonderful experiences, and peace of mind?
The most profound impact of inner peace is the peace it spreads to the world outside of us. Peace between families, communities, and countries begins with each individual. Inner peace is contagious.
As you find inner peace for yourself, you become a model for others and spread the seeds of peace everywhere you go.
11. Use relaxation techniques.
Whether you enjoy yoga, long walks, long soaks in the tub, or meditation, make physical and mental relaxation a daily and weekly priority.
These techniques support your mental health and make inner peace more accessible to you (not to mention those who live with you).
Practice mindfulness to help you make relaxation a habit you’ll enjoy. Be present with those around you and with what you are doing in the moment.
Mindful relaxation gets you closer to peace of mind and reminds you of the good things in your life that are too easy to overlook when you’re busy.
12. Declutter your world.
The less clutter you see on the outside, the less cluttered you feel and the easier it is to find inner peace with yourself.
Take a few minutes each day to clear your space of everything you don’t need, use, or love.
Make it easier to maintain order and tidiness in the spaces in which you spend most of your time.
The fewer visible distractions you have, the more peaceful you’ll feel and the more time you’ll have for the things that matter most to you.
13. Disconnect and escape for a while.
Take some time each week to disconnect from technology and get reacquainted with who you are without it.
Escape and enjoy simple things like a hike and a picnic lunch, a walk on a quiet beach or lakefront, or a quiet soak surrounded by candles and relaxing music.
Part of finding peace is disconnecting from things that steer you away from it. Whatever you enjoy that doesn’t involve technology, allow yourself to enjoy it mindfully.
Relax into it, accept and let go of the thoughts that come (because they will), and savor the things you love about your life and about living in general.
Are you ready to claim inner peace?
As Dr. Norman Vincent Peale reminds us, “The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence.”
But creating that life may take some work on your part.
If you've led a life that is stressful and disconnected from inner equanimity, you need to commit to a new way of being. You must learn new mindsets and take the actions outlined in this post.
Are you ready to get started on your own journey to inner peace?
What changes do you need to make first to disconnect from the adrenaline lifestyle and find that place of calm inside of you?
Today is a great day to get started. Choose one of these steps and begin your journey.
And may your inner calm and joy infuse everything else you do today.