Finding inner peace can seem as elusive as trying to capture a unicorn. A beautiful idea, but a complete myth. Or maybe you think the only way to achieve it is to join a monastery and meditate for 18 hours a day. Eat. Pray. Love. Right?
I have to admit there are some days when living that eat, pray, love kind of life seems quite attractive, though not realistic for me.
I’m the mom of three teenagers, all the same age. Not triplets, twins and one. We became a family when our kids were seven. The year they all turned 13, I used to joke that wine and scotch were my best friends. (Seriously. It was a joke. Mostly.)
I’m also an entrepreneur, which has a set of stressors all it’s own, as anyone who owns their own business knows. On top of that, my husband struggles with mental health. And did I mention, my mom lives with us too? (I pray daily that those two aren’t a cause and effect kind of thing. 😉)
So yeah, finding inner peace has been a bit of a focus in my world for a while.
I’ve done research on it. There’s 15 steps here, 4 steps there and 10 steps somewhere else. Those are a lot of steps to keep in mind at any one time, when you’re busy enough juggling life. Just the thought of trying to do that pulls that inner peace off into the distance, where it’s just a spec on the horizon.
There’s also a lot out there on living a minimalistic kind of life, and having a clean work space and living area, to achieve your inner peace. I’m not going to go there because it would be a complete lie for me to say I’ve attained that, or anything close to it.
I’ve never been that person who has everything in it’s place, unlike my mom and my sister, who both have label makers and joyfully use them to ensure the proper categorization of everything. They’ve achieved inner peace from their alphabetized spice racks and perfectly aligned pantries. I’m lucky if I can get into my pantry.
I typically have piles of books and papers everywhere. I want to say that only happens when I’m in research mode, but that wouldn’t be true either. God bless my husband, who is so patient with me and supports my process, even though it probably makes him crazy. (Something to think about on the mental health front, perhaps.) But that’s me and I’ve come to accept it. Thankfully, he has too.
So if you’re the type of person who needs to have that kind of tidy space to journey into your quest for inner peace, go for it! Because….
Finding Inner Peace is All About Finding You
The biggest reason you don’t feel peaceful really has little to do with the teenagers, job, business, the latest curve ball life has thrown your way or lack of an alphabetized spice rack. It’s so much easier to look outside of ourselves for the reasons we don’t feel that sense of inner harmony, but focusing there is going to keep you in the hunt for that illusive mythical unicorn, leaving you with nothing to show.
In his book destressifying, davidji defines stress as “how you respond when your needs are not met.”
I love that! It’s simple, clean and easy to understand. And it’s TRUE! There’s no stress if your needs are fully met. That’s when we feel good. Really good. There’s tons of stress when they’re not.
So then, inner peace must be found when your physical, spiritual, emotional and mental needs are all met in the moment. That combination is going to be different for everyone. Inner peace is not a one size fits all kind of thing.
I find inner peace when I’m writing and in that zone where it all just flows. I also feel it when I go for a walk, sit by the ocean, get a hug from someone I love, or when I can finally quiet my monkey mind in meditation, which usually lasts about for about 15 seconds, but it is there and it counts!
Other people find serenity when they’re carving their way down the backside of a mountain, in 10 inches of new powder from last night’s snowfall.
One of my clients feels it when he’s in the middle of busy cities, like New York. The pulse of the people and all the ongoing action takes him to a place of tranquility because he knows he’s part of something bigger; but another guy I worked with gets exactly the same feeling when he goes to church or studies the bible quietly on his own.
So interesting, isn’t it? What works for one person to achieve inner peace does not necessarily work for another. This is why you have to understand what works for you, if you ever want to get there.
Your formula for inner peace can’t come from someone else. You have to craft it yourself, but most people don’t know themselves well enough to write the prescription for what they want.
Do you have that kind of self awareness? Can you say right now what’s stressing you out and why? What buttons are being pushed to make you feel that way and what you can do to soothe it?
Figure that out and you’re on you way to finding the inner peace you deserve.
How to Start Finding You
Guaranteed, when you’re feeling your most emotional, in a good or bad way, it’s because one of your core values is engaged. Most people have no idea what their values are. I sure didn’t when my coach asked me what mine were, but when I took the time to figure it out, it was a complete game changer.
Defining your values is the first step in understanding yourself and what you need. From there, you get so many paths to follow to learn even more about you. Personally, I started getting so many ah-ha moments about why I acted or reacted the way I did in certain situations after I defined my values.
Most of us live in reaction mode. We don’t think about why we do what we do. Instead, we work on autopilot, simply running a pattern that’s been in place since we were kids or teens, without ever questioning it or even realizing it.
If you want to find inner peace, you have to start understanding what makes you tick and why you do what you do. Your values are a huge driver in that.
I find inner peace when I write because inspiration is one of my core values and creativity is up there too. If I can help just one person with what I write, my needs are met and I’m in a great place.
I get that feeling too when I’m hugging someone because that hug is meeting my value of love, which is my personal life-defining value. Without love in my life, it’s meaningless for me. That’s why I’m most out of alignment with myself and the world when I’m not feeling loved or when I’m withholding it in some way. That takes me as far away from peace as I can possibly get.
Conversely, I can just sit and think about the people I love the most and I feel myself light up from the inside. That creates a moment of inner peace for me. Bliss, actually. I absolutely love the feeling of love and I can engage it any time I want. Instant inner peace with a thought.
What does it for you? Is it a sense of freedom, connection, fun, innovation, faith, service, contribution?
All it takes is one step. You just have to figure out you and you’ll have that mythical unicorn of inner peace by the horn. (Gently, of course. It is about peace after all.)