Dr. Charles Raison said in an interview recently with The Sun magazine: “We’ve replaced a fictitious certainty with an honest confusion.” A statement has never felt truer.
Whatever certainty we may have thought we possessed has since blown away like an empty plastic bag in the wind. This past year has been unprecedented and challenging, with disruption felt to our core. The pandemic has taught us many lessons, and one shouts louder than most: we affect one another—profoundly. In times like these, emotional fitness, resiliency, empathy, and inner peace are priceless treasures.
Inner Peace Doesn't Depend on Outer Circumstances
Unfortunately, financial struggles, isolation, depression, and anxiety are moving through the world like the tremors of an earthquake, crowding out inner peace for many. For example, couples unaccustomed to spending so much time together, confinement and conflict eat away at their love. Quarantines have been ransacking teens’ social lives and requiring parents to work at home while navigating homeschool and childcare simultaneously. No one is untouched.
Difficulties in life beg the question: Is inner peace dependent on external events? How do we achieve inner peace when our workplaces and social lives have been turned inside out? And how do we nurture relationships when we can barely keep our own emotions intact?
“In times of great change, it is not the strongest or cleverest that survive, but the ones most adaptable to change.” ~Charles Darwin
And where does adaptability come from? Resiliency is rooted in inner peace. Luckily, neither resiliency nor inner peace depends on outer circumstances.
Psychological and emotional health gives us the freedom to maintain our balance when the world falls apart. When we are growth-minded and resilient, our compass points to our True North no matter what is going on outside of us. This inner peace, self-acceptance, and self-compassion are at the heart of feeling safe and secure.
Peace does not require the absence of problems or challenges. When we are confident that we can handle whatever life throws at us, we are better equipped to surf the waves of change, even when circumstances temporarily flatten us with emotional tidal waves. It is an authentic, integrated self that weathers the storms with grace.
Yes, these times have been—and still are—unsettling. However, our perspective (negative or mindfully positive), our responses to challenges (passive or proactive), and how we treat ourselves (encouragingly or discouragingly) dramatically influence how we feel about the state of affairs in the world.
Let’s explore a few simple strategies that can ease anxiety, stabilize our sense of self in stressful situations, and help us be less dependent on life going smoothly. We can get behind the steering wheel of daily life and direct what happens in our lives. When we live more intentionally and cultivate emotional intelligence, the very way we see the world changes for the positive. And even when we have conflicting feelings, we find an inner calm within.
3 Practices to Cultivate Inner Peace, Enhance Well-Being, and Create Security
1 Be Present.
Fear only lives in thoughts of the future. Regret is preoccupied with the past. The present is where peace resides.
“BEING HERE NOW sounds simple, but these few words contain inner work for a lifetime. To live in the here and now is to have no regrets about the past, no worries or expectations for the future. To be fully present in each moment of existence is to live in total contentment, in peace and love.” ~Ram Dass
So how do we begin to practice being present? By noticing. Slow down and notice life as you go through your day: the leaves blowing in the wind, the shape of the clouds, the giggles of your children, the sensations in your body, the grain and texture of your desk—simple things that help you become aware of your environment and begin to train your mind to be fully present. This deliberate mind shift can renew you even when things are difficult.
2 Practice Mindfulness.
You might be thinking, “Why should I be mindful?” For starters, studies show that mindfulness reduces stress, decreases anxiety, and helps in numerous mental, emotional, and physical issues. Not convinced?
When we are mindful, we keep our attention on the things that matter most, such as noticing an improvement in our child’s grades and effort instead of noticing only a low grade. We see our partner’s kind acts instead of focusing on our complaints. We notice and are encouraged by initiatives in the world that create more equality and justice rather than being paralyzed by fear and hopelessness.
When we are sharply aware of ourselves, others, and our environment, we can respond in a way that honors our values and takes the higher road.
When you establish a practice of mindfulness, you will hear the subtle whisperings of your true self that will not only keep you safe but will also gently lead you to a higher quality of life. When there is too much noise in our minds, it drowns out the quiet, small voice of intuition.
This peacefulness equips you to handle the challenges in life more easily. Being mindful allows you to feel the flutters of emotions and act before emotions build to a point where you react impulsively and later regret your actions.
Related reading: “When Science Meets Mindfulness.”
3 Be Grateful!
There are volumes of research on the practice of gratitude. When you’re struggling and under the weight of depression, gratitude can feel like the last thing you want to do. However, if you want to uplift yourself in difficult times, gratitude is a sure-fire way to do it!
Start small. Be grateful for having a warm bed to snuggle in. Express gratitude for having another day to be alive, for your children’s smiles, your spouse’s loyalty and love, or for the energy to cook a meal for your family. Look up into the sky and be grateful for the beauty of nature.
Yes, it might feel contrived and inauthentic at first, but as you give voice to what you appreciate, you’ll notice a lightening of your mood. And the longer or more consistently you practice gratitude, the more momentum you’ll build.
If you choose anything that has the greatest power to encourage, it is gratitude—acknowledging the gifts of the present opens the floodgates for hope for the future.
Pick one of the above suggestions and make a commitment to yourself. Take one small step in a positive direction… and then another.
And if you’d like customized support, Heartmanity is built on the foundation of empowering people to thrive. As Maya Angelou was known to say: “Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.” Let us help you thrive, even in challenging times.