In our fast-paced, hyper-connected world, it’s easy to be consumed by noise, thoughts, and anxieties. Sometimes it can seem that everything about modern society is designed to disrupt our inner calm – whether it’s our hectic schedules or the constant pinging of our phones. Not to mention the things we can’t always plan for like global pandemics, upsetting news stories, and unpredictable economies.
But even in a world that feels chaotic and overwhelming, it’s still possible to find inner peace and to restore balance and calm back into your life. Here are 10 things you can start doing today.
What is inner peace?
Before we examine some of the ways we can find inner peace, it’s important to understand exactly what the phrase means.
Finding inner peace might evoke images of someone meditating on a remote mountaintop, or at the least relaxing at a peaceful wellness retreat. And while it’s true that inner peace is often associated with Buddhism, it doesn’t have to be about religion or spirituality. It’s just about a state of mind.
When you have inner peace, your mind is quiet – free from worry and harmful negative thoughts. You carry a sense of peace within yourself, so even during times of stress or chaos, you have the ability to remain calm and peaceful.
Achieving inner peace doesn’t mean being passive or quiet, or not having any fun. It doesn’t have anything to do with how you appear from the outside. It isn’t about what’s happening in your daily life at all. Rather, it’s a state of mind that allows us to let go of stresses and worries that weigh us down and reconnect with our true selves.
Inner peace can give us clarity, happiness, and contentment. It can teach us to accept ourselves and accept change, to become more resilient, and to be the best possible version of ourselves we can be. It can give us the peace of mind we need in a world that’s deafeningly loud.
It’s important to know that peace of mind doesn’t require actual peace and quiet. A good analogy for inner peace is the ocean. While on the surface the tides and waves can be violently crashing, if you sink a few metres below, you enter a new world entirely removed from the turbulence – a deep, calm place where life moves at its own pace, unphased by the chaos on the surface.
You could be on the London underground, packed into a noisy train carriage surrounded by other people… but if you close your eyes you can still reach this deep, quiet place.
Achieving inner peace may seem like a lofty goal, but all of us have this calm and quiet awareness within ourselves. It’s a state of mind that’s accessible for everyone – we just need to know how to access it. So how can we go about doing that – today?
How to find inner peace
If our minds are turbulent, inner peace will always remain out of reach – so one of the most important steps is to practise meditation. Meditation isn’t only calming, it’s also a great way to control your breathing, let go of worrying thoughts, and live in the moment.
Meditation is different for everyone, and it doesn’t necessarily involve sitting cross-legged in silence. One of the most effective forms of meditation is mindfulness, which involves focusing on what’s going on around you (e.g. sights, smells, sounds) and helping to quiet unhelpful, stressful thoughts.
To learn more about mindfulness, have a read of our article; An introduction to mindfulness. Alternatively, yoga and Tai-chi can also utilise the benefits of meditation, as well as help you develop a better awareness of your breathing.
2. Media detox
One of the most common reasons inner peace is disrupted is due to the media. We live in an age of instant information, and constantly being ‘switched on’ – whether to social media or 24/7 news – means we never get a chance to truly unwind.
Multiple studies show that watching the news can increase both anxiety and sadness – and the sensational nature of the 24-hour news cycle means it’s easy to be inundated with scary or upsetting news. Social media can also harm our inner peace, and cause us to compare ourselves unfavourably with our friends, or feel like we’re missing out.
While you don’t have to step away from the media entirely, it’s best to set limits for how often you check the news, or for how long you spend on social media. Taking total breaks from the media now and then – a digital detox – can also help you gain peace of mind.
For tips on how to manage your new consumption in a healthy way, you might want to check out our article on the subject here. Our article, 8 tips for coping with screen fatigue, has some helpful advice too.
3. Be amongst nature
If you’re feeling stressed, one of the easiest and simplest ways to feel better almost instantly is to head outside and be amongst nature. In our modern world, the importance of connecting with nature is easy to overlook, but spending time in the natural world has powerful benefits.
Research shows that spending time in nature can reduce feelings of stress or anger, and heading outside to observe the world around you can have a soothing effect on troubled minds. It’s also an excellent opportunity to practise mindfulness; look at the colour of the sky, notice the smells of the flowers and trees, etc.
You can simply sit outside for a while, and enjoy some fresh air and the feel of the sun on your face – but you might also want to consider doing a walking meditation. Walking has many physical health benefits as it is, but staying present and marvelling at the beauty of nature as you walk can greatly contribute to inner peace.
To find out more about doing walking meditations and the benefits of being among nature, you can have a read of our article; 10 different types of walk to enjoy this summer. Or to explore other ways to connect with nature, why not check out our list of 32 ways to connect with nature and feel inspired?
4. Avoid negative thoughts
One of the most effective ways to find inner peace is one of the simplest – but it can also be the most challenging.
While negative thoughts are an inevitable part of life, they’re impossible to avoid entirely, so learning how to navigate these emotions without imploding is what inner peace is all about. The more we dwell on negativity, the worse we feel, and the more our inner peace is compromised.
In order to avoid negative thoughts, you first need to be able to identify them – then, you need to challenge them. Challenging your thoughts means you’re able to manage the ‘noise’ in your head.
When you have a negative thought, rather than letting it drag you down, try to focus on the positives – for example, if you feel bad that you didn’t get much work done today, add a positive affirmation; “I didn’t get as much work done as I’d like today, but I can do better tomorrow”.
To learn more about identifying and challenging negative thoughts, you might want to read our articles; 7 tips for coping with stress and anxiety and An introduction to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
5. Be kind to yourself
It isn’t enough just to challenge negative thoughts. In order to achieve inner peace you also need to actively be kind to yourself.
One of the most common reasons our inner peace is disrupted is because we’re constantly at battle with ourselves – but when we love ourselves, the world becomes infinitely more peaceful.
Take time to prioritise self-care and self-love. This can take both physical and emotional forms – from enjoying a relaxing bath to spending time with loved ones. If you invest in yourself and treat yourself with kindness, you’re learning to love yourself and creating more room for inner peace in your life.
Make sure you set aside time for the things that lift your spirits – whether that’s reading, cooking, or seeing friends. Exercise is one of the most rewarding activities we can do, so try to make time to exercise every day, even if it’s just going for a short walk.
To find out more about how you can be kind to yourself, why not have a read of our article; 16 ways to improve confidence and self-esteem? And to learn more about the ways exercise can benefit our mood and lead to inner peace, it’s worth checking out our article; How exercise can lead to better brain health.
6. Accept what you cannot change
Accepting things as they are is enormously important when it comes to finding inner peace. When we resist things that are out of our control we create suffering – the opposite of inner peace – and the more you struggle against something, the less peaceful you’ll feel.
No amount of arguing or resisting will change reality – so rather than pushing back at what you can’t change, accept it and surrender to what is. The sooner you’re aligned with reality, the sooner you’ll learn how to access your inner peace.
Think of acceptance as a way of life rather than a quick fix. It takes time to go with the flow and accept what you can’t change, but practising acceptance is incredibly beneficial. Next time you’re struggling to accept something, take a deep breath and say to yourself “This is what it is. This is where I am. I’m going to go with this, and it will be OK.”
For more on learning to accept yourself and what you can’t control, you might want to read our articles; The importance of resilience and the ability to adapt and Self-development – 10 skills that can improve your life.
7. Be true to yourself
In life, few things feel as unfulfilling as trying to be someone you’re not, or living a life that isn’t in tune with your values. It’s really important to be true to yourself and make your own decisions without worrying about what other people will say.
Seeking admiration and acceptance from other people rather than yourself means you’re unable to act on your own free will, and you’ll never be able to embrace who you really are or feel at peace with yourself. So drop any pretensions you may have, and own who you are and what you want.
Remember that you’re in control of your life, no one else – so try not to allow society to dictate your choices, and be open and assertive about your needs and desires.
8. Practise gratitude
The psychological benefits of gratitude are becoming increasingly known. Studies show that it can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels, increase resilience, and boost confidence and self-esteem – all of which are vital for finding inner peace.
In our fast-paced world, stopping for a moment to be thankful for all you have is a great way to feel more positive about yourself and your life, and can help you tap into a state of inner peace. One positive thought often sparks another, and when you regularly practise gratitude, you’ll find that you’re breaking negative cycles and feeling more content.
You might want to start keeping a gratitude journal, where you write down the things you’re grateful for. This doesn’t have to be detailed, and you can use two basic prompts to reflect on what you’re grateful for each day; just ask yourself “What did I enjoy today?” and “What am I grateful for today?”
To find out more about the benefits of gratitude and the different ways you can practice it, you might want to have a read of our article; How practising gratitude can lead to a happier life.
9. Get creative
Getting creative and trying artistic pursuits like painting, sculpting, drawing, music, and photography are also good ways to lower stress levels and find inner peace.
Art has powerful meditative benefits, and when our minds are noisy, creating art provides a quiet distraction, and gives our brain a break. You don’t have to be a prolific painter or masterful musician to achieve inner peace via art; you just have to focus on the task at hand and be open to learning a new skill.
If you’re interested in using art forms to quieten your mind and achieve a state of inner peace, have a read of our article; 9 creative skills that you can learn from home.
10. Don’t pressure yourself
In life, it’s important to dream big, but it’s also important to be realistic. If you’re chasing perfection and setting yourself unrealistic goals, you’ll never feel comfortable with who you are, or be able to accept your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll also experience constant feelings of failure or guilt.
Human beings aren’t perfect, so perfection is not something we should seek. We’re all flawed, and when we put too much pressure on ourselves we feel burned out and drained. Life is about balance, and some days we do better than others.
Try not to pressure yourself, and instead, find a healthy balance between different areas of your life.
Life can be stressful, unpredictable and scary, and it’s easy to get carried away with negative thoughts. But learning to live in the moment, to accept what we can’t change, and to challenge unhealthy behaviours allows us to have more room for peace in our lives.
Finding inner peace isn’t something that happens overnight, and it can be a challenge. But as with anything else, practice makes all the difference, and if we want to achieve inner peace we’ll need to work towards building it – whether it’s practising meditation every day or keeping a gratitude diary.
Remember, you don’t have to be spiritual to achieve inner peace. You just need to have self-awareness, so that you can intimately understand who you are and how your thoughts can affect your reality.