Stressed, anxious, tired and just needing a break from it and all the demands on you? You’re not alone in wanting a break. Many of us are desperately seeing peace, quiet and a renewed sense of personal freedom in our own lives. It may seem impossible but peace and happiness are achievable. In my own life I went from miserable, cynical, and depressed to constantly laughing, happy and content – so I know it’s possible.
There are secrets to peace and happiness that become obvious once you know them. One of their biggest hindrances is the many ways we foster instability, stress, anxiety and even our own self-enslavement. Here are 5 ways we sabotage our own inner peace without even realizing it.
Tuning In To Stress
In today’s greedy world, corporations and even governments fixate on the consumer. There is a reason for this. We have five senses with which to take in the world – seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting. Most people blindly consume everything with their senses that they find or encounter because it’s fun, feels good, or they think it will make them happy. There is very little self-regulation or self-restraint.
Today’s world constantly blasts products, experiences, ideas and beliefs for us to consume. More are created everyday and more will be created tomorrow – just to make someone money, gain them fame, or grow their power. Little thought is usually given to us the consumer and how these “products” will impact our lives. Our lack of reflection and regulation of these “products” is detrimental to our emotional and mental health, let alone our inner spirit. As a result, we miss out.
Here’s a realization that helped me develop a self-sustaining peace and happiness. Maybe it will help you.
Peace comes from two conditions:
- Removing causes that prevent peace
- Supporting causes that create peace
Most people ignore both principles and search for something to give them peace – like you can buy, steal, or earn it like you would a coat from a luxury store by either paying for it, stealing it or working hard enough that someone gives it to you for free.
Peace isn’t like that.
Peace requires conditions that foster it but it also requires removing and preventing those things that get in its way. This article fosters on the things that get in its way. If you want a beautiful garden, for example, you don’t turn your land into a junk yard and expect flowers to grow. Similarly, the primary way we can foster our own inner peace and happiness is by regulating what we consume. If we consume junk, our inner life becomes garbage and won’t be at all pleasant.
Here are 5 of the everyday ways we sabotage our own inner peace.
#1 – Sound Seduction
We consume a great deal of information through our ears. It’s one of our primary modes of interacting with the world. We listen to the radio, podcasts, conversations, music, the news, sports, etc. These are areas that influence us greatly but we’re rarely aware of how much.
If you are only taking in sad, angry, violent or random information and content through your hearing everyday, is it any wonder that your emotions and thoughts are sad, angry, violent and random? If the people you listen to are cynical and crude, is it any surprise that your inner state is cynical and crude?
We can’t hope to be peaceful inside if everything we’re listening to from the outside is chaotic, violent, depressing, or upsetting. This is feeding us sadness, depression, anxiety and fear day in and day out. It’s not that we should live in a cultural vacuum or with our heads in the sand but if we want a better inner experience, we should listen more to those things that uplift, inspire and motivate us. If you listen to peaceful music, happy people, or inspiring conversations, you naturally begin to feel peaceful, happy and inspired. That’s how these things work.
The takeaway: How much of what you hear is positive and peaceful versus negative and upsetting? When you really pay attention to the words, moods and message, you start realizing how much of your peace is influenced by them.
#2 – Vision-Enhanced
Similarly, we are visual creatures. Our main pastimes revolve around TV, movies, YouTube, surfing the internet, and interacting with social media. We stare at celebrities and politicians, watch sports, play video games and basically tune out from our own lives to escape into other visually entertaining worlds.
But we forget that seeing is believing. What we watch influences us just like what we listen to does. If you’re binging on fear and anxiety-inducing news that shows you horror after horror or reports on anger-inducing politics, are you surprised that you’re stressed, anxious and afraid all the time? If you’re playing video games or watching TV shows that revolve around fighting and killing, murder, disaster and mayhem, how can you expect to cultivate peace and quiet inside? That time was already spent nourishing anxiety, not producing conditions that will foster peace.
The takeaway: How much of what you see and watch revolves around negative messages that promote fear, greed, anger, resentment or anxiety? How much makes you feel lighter, happier, relaxed and inspired? Does it make you feel better about life and your place in it or does it just leave you drained or stressed out? We have control over a great deal of what we tune into. Find that which feeds your peace and happiness. You’ll start feeling peaceful and happy as a result.
#3 – Speaking Well
We are a verbal species and immensely talkative. What are your conversations like? Are they cynical, angry, full of complaints, focused on bad news and events, or critical of yourself or others? Are the people around you angry and stressed, verbally obnoxious or abusive?
Our conversations say a great deal about our inner state. So does the company we keep.
Are you a sponge person – are you listening to everyone and anything they say in order to be polite or because you’re bored? If so, you must hear a great deal of complaining, self-pitying, anger, venting and more – enough to overwhelm you in a number of ways and shatter your peace and happiness. Even if you aren’t listening out of politeness, do you indulge and seek out those conversations? Instigate them? Worse, are you the person complaining, pitying yourself, looking for self-validation, or being angry and verbally abusive? Why do you allow certain conversations around you rather than setting up boundaries or walking away?
What is said has a deep impact on us and others. When was the last time throwing a tirade left you energized with happiness rather than more angry or resentful than when you went in? What about listening to a tirade?
Conversations are integral to our inner peace and happiness. Who we connect with, support and love is as important as those who connect with, support and love us. What is your circle of family and friends like? Why do you choose to hang out with the people you do? Are they building you up or tearing you down? Are you building up or tearing down others? Are you only talking problems or are you seeking solutions?
We can’t have inner peace if everything we say or talk about with others focuses on complaining, resentments, fears, anger and so on.
The takeaway: Start listening to what you say. Literally, start listening to the words coming out of your own mouth and those of your typical conversations. Are they focused on things that are fun, inspiring, or peace-inducing? If not, maybe they should be.
#4 – Change Your Mind
There is a famous saying:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Few of us ever examine ourselves and if we do, usually only superficially. We think examining ourselves means finding our faults and strengths, then focusing on obtaining skills that will get us ahead in our career or love life. We never really stop to examine the underlying assumptions, ideas and beliefs that form our conception of this world, others and ourselves. By the time we’re 30 we usually have very rigid ideas about how the world works, what success and happiness means, and what we should believe politically, economically, spiritually, and even scientifically. We think our perspective is right or that those we have adopted as our leaders are right. Often the only “new” ideas we explore are those in the same vein as the ones we’ve already accepted as “true” or valid.
When you actually stop and examine every idea, assumption and belief, you will actually find that many are actively getting in the way of your happiness and peace of mind. For myself, the most liberating moment was when I stopped thinking I knew anything, realized I knew nothing, and that to stick with my prior ideas, assumptions and beliefs would just mean more anger, stress, anxiety and depression.
I began to question everything. I didn’t justify beliefs, ideas or assumptions. I still don’t or at least try not to. Mostly I work from the idea of “what if they’re/I’m wrong?”. This questioning nature allows me to change and grow, not take myself or others so seriously, and enjoy life on a different playing field.
Our ideas, assumptions and beliefs about life will make us unhappy and upset more often than they liberate us – be they ideas about roles, religion, relationships, money, family, friendship, success, economics, politics, happiness, and even peace.
The takeaway: Changing our perspective can be the most liberating thing we can do in our lives. Often nothing will change unless we change. Most people chase after things but those with real peace abandon that chase or at least pause it to go inward and examine themselves and their beliefs. The truly happy often toss most of what they find away and live with an open heart, mind and spirit.
#5 – Change Your Situation
We often get in our own way with our poorly considered actions and decisions. Many people have the idea that life owes them something, that they’re entitled to respect, fame, money or a good job, and awesome partner. When none of that emerges, they blame the world for being against them, blame fate, and take a fatalistic view that they’re destined to be misunderstood, underappreciated, or treated like crap. It’s a very passive and unhappy way to live life. About the only peace you’ll find is the long-suffering kind.
Peace and happiness come from taking responsibility for our lives and changing our situation. This can mean failures and setbacks, tears and stress, but I’d personally rather be crying and doing something than crying and doing nothing. At least doing something has the chance of changing matters.
If we want peace, we need to change the variables in our lives that are preventing peace and causing us pain. Those variables can be our lifestyle, friends, family, work, our living space, and more. It’s not always easy to change them but once we do, we often find more peace and happiness – so long as we don’t fall into the trap of choosing a similar situation because we haven’t learned from the one we left. After all, how often have you listened to your friends complain about the women or men in their life, yet they always date the exact same sort of person? The problem is with their judgment, not the other person. Until they improve that, they’ll keep dating the same sort of person and having the same sort of experiences.
The takeaway: Doing the same thing and expecting a different result each time is the definition of insanity. If our current situation isn’t conducive to peace, continuing with it won’t bring us peace. There’s a difference between learning how to make peace with and accept what you can’t change and putting your head in the sand and not being responsible for the many things you can change. Peace is the result of causes that foster it. Change your situation to a lifestyle that fosters peace.
The Secrets of Peace That No One Tells You
There are many paths to peace but it’s universally difficult to be happy when you’re clinging so hard to that which makes you unhappy. This can be as simple as feeding our unhappiness and stress with our preferences for entertainment, music, news, and conversational topics to more subtle influences such our basic assumptions, beliefs and ideas about ourselves, society and life. To find peace we often need to change our habits, behaviors, and situation for something more meaningful and peace-producing.
If you’re always feeding your anxiety and stress, it will grow bigger while your inner peace dies from starvation. Our society focuses on obtaining things and feeding our need to continually consume. No one tells you that peace isn’t a thing but a result that develops out of the causes that nurture it. Now that you know, eliminate and minimize that which blocks peace while supporting the causes that create peace. You’ll soon be less stressed, anxious, overwhelmed and unhappy. Do this long enough and you’ll discover a great deal of peace and happiness developing in your life.
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