A few people have been asking me in recent weeks, “How can I feel more at peace when my life isn’t where I want it to be right now?”
This is a great question. Perhaps a fundamental question for the modern human.
It’s certainly a question I have explored deeply in my own life – I would go so far to say it has been a personal quest.
As a teenager, I was so filled with questions about the world that it was common for me to lay awake until the early hours; my mind a restless beast. I craved a peaceful state of mind, and at that point became dedicated to discovering how the mind could be free of all the usually junk that clogs it up:
This list could go on indefinitely…
Truth is, we only need one of these to make life a misery, but many of us consume daily a cocktail called “Mental Disharmony”…
I don’t know about you, but I have drunk my fair share of this potion in my life…
And the hangover from it is no fun…
The Human Experience
But we should never accept these states as “just the human experience”…we must push back…
Ultimately, this is why I showed up for Yoga classes 3 times a week in my early 20’s; and it’s why I gave up reading ‘Women’s’ magazines as a teenager; it’s why I practice ‘Presence’ during the ordinary moments of life; and it’s why I avoid watching the ‘news’; it’s why I complete my Gratitude journal each morning; and it’s why I Meditate daily.
In other words, these are ways I have tried to push-back against the madness of the human mind.
As a young woman, I was desperate to settle my over-active mind. Then, as I matured, I started overtly seeking inner peace and true self knowing. It’s an ongoing journey; one I believe will never stop.
All I know is that I am grateful to have discovered these practices so early on…
And thankfully, as I get older, I am starting to find that I can create the feeling of inner peace much more frequently…
And I want that for you too…
I believe it’s what we all want, deep down…
What Is Inner Peace?
Inner peace (or peace of mind) refers to a deliberate state of psychological or spiritual calm despite the potential presence of stressors. Being “at peace” is considered by many to be healthy (homeostasis) and the opposite of being stressed or anxious, and is considered to be a state where our mind performs at an optimal level with a positive outcome. Peace of mind is thus generally associated with bliss, happiness and contentment.
There’s a key clue in this definition.
Inner Peace is a deliberate state, which means you have to consciously choose it. This is especially true in the world we have created, which is overflowing with potential psychological stressors.
No doubt, when we lived simpler lives, in closer contact with nature, and in a state of presence with the world around us, inner peace was a more constant companion, and stress was momentary, in response to real danger.
You see, I believe, that inner peace is our natural state and is always present beneath the chatter and musings of the human mind. Sadly, our world has become so noisy, so cluttered, so busy. Most people are rushing through life at break-neck speed, and the inner peace remains submerged and inaccessible.
Even when you have worked to build a relationship with the deep stillness within, it can be hard to maintain this as you enter into your daily life.
So, given the general-life-challenges that most of us face on a daily basis, how can we learn to develop a mind that is primed for peace not pain?
Training The Mind For Peace
Perhaps my mentor Dr. Wayne Dyer gives the clearest direction:
“Peace is the result of learning to train your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” – Dr Wayne Dyer
Once again, the idea that we must “train our mind for peace” is reinforced here.
In short, peace is not something we should passively sit around and wait for in our lives.
It’s an active process. A daily, deliberate practice is indicated.
You must set peace of mind as a goal and train for it daily…using proven practices…
And, as with any training program, you must expect obstacles and set-backs, as well as wins and improvements.
Likewise, you should objectively chart your progress, so you can see results and stay motivated.
As in everything, aim for “Progress not Perfection.”
Process Life As It Is…
Whilst we must train for peace, Dyer is telling us that a state of inner calm is accessible to all, and he is suggesting it is immediately available… when our natural inclination is to defer peace to a later date.
Isn’t it true that we often think about peace as something that is “off in the distance” somewhere? Something to “aim for” at a future date? Something we’d ultimately like to feel more often, but which can seem elusive?
What we must realise is that, as humans, we invent stories to support the distancing of inner harmony…as crazy as this sounds, it’s true!
“When the kids are older, then I can…”
“As soon as I leave this job, then I will…”
“Once my health improves, I will start to…”
“The moment I am at home, I can unwind…”
These are all delay tactics created by the mind to keep you in your comfort zone. Doesn’t matter that your comfort zone feels awful. Your mind cares more about your survival, than about your happiness.
For that reason, it’s important not to trust the mind with this task. You must practice it and then you will find that peace is easily within your reach.
In fact, it’s so accessible, you can access inner peace right now; regardless of what is happening in your life; despite your current circumstances or conditions or challenges…
And you will achieve that…when you process life as it is…
How Life Should Be…
You see, it’s only your thoughts, beliefs and emotional state, that make you feel you cannot experience more peace of mind in the moment – and this happens whenever you focus on how life “should be” rather than what’s happening here and now.
For example, when we make judgements about our life or the people or circumstances of our life, then we are processing life as we think it “should be.”
“Why is this happening to me…?”
“I don’t deserve this…”
“God has it in for me…”
“Life is not on my side…”
These kind of statements indicate that we are in disharmony with “life as it is”, and we are caught in the mind trap of “life as it should be”.
There is no peace to be found in the land of “should”…
And while I’m sure we all understand this intellectually, the real question is, what are the practical strategies that you can implement today that will shift the needle and allow you to generate a state of inner calm on command…
Here are my top 4 Strategies:
Strategy 1. Start By Accepting Where You Are At
The fundamental step, according to the quote, is “acceptance of life as it is…”
It’s helpful here to look deeply at the definition and origin of the word accept.
To accept means to:
Right now, see if you can look honestly at the entirety of your life and say:
I am willing to receive my life as it is…
I’m able to take and hold my life as it is…
Today I approve of my life as it is…
In this moment, I recognise the truth of my life as it is…
I agree to undertake full responsibility for my life as it is…
To be able to say these things about your life means you have reached a place of acceptance.
And acceptance is an open express-lane to peace.
(Hint: Try adopting one of the above statements as a mantra and repeat it as you go through your day.)
Making The Mental Leap
It’s not a leap the mind makes easily.
You’ll have to overrun the operating system on this one.
That’s why we don’t naturally take this step. It’s hard and seems to go against the grain, especially when life is not “as we wish“, or as it “should be“.
The mind prefers resistance and resentment – this is safe and familiar territory for the mind, but it encourages us to avoid real contact with life and therefore real change.
It’s a great irony in life that when we can look at the full truth of our current circumstances, including the uncomfortable, challenging, embarrassing bits; when we accept our life exactly as it is; when we take responsibility in that moment for where our life is at and where it is headed; then we can feel more peace and access our power to bring about change.
It works because we bring ourselves into alignment with the present moment.
And the present moment is where life is…
It’s also where all our power lives…
This is what Dr. Dyer meant when he said: “Peace comes when you process life as it is…”
Acceptance Does Not Imply Resignation
There’s a big difference between acceptance and resignation. Acceptance does not mean you have to like where your life is at, nor does it imply that you should resign yourself to things just as they are.
That’s where a lot of people get confused! They say “I don’t want to accept my life as it is because right now my life sucks. This life of mine really isn’t working as it is.”
I totally understand that; but here is the important thing to understand:
It’s not about settling or resigning yourself to how things are; it’s about taking a good hard look at your life as it is right now; accepting that this is your current reality; and not allowing yourself to go into denial, blame, fear, guilt, shame or any other cognitive distortions…
Finally, it’s about taking appropriate action.
Acceptance is simply the act of saying, “Ok, that’s how things are right now.”
That’s very different than saying:
“This is how it will always be.”
“I guess this is just what I have to accept…forever.”
“It seems that this is as good as life is ever going to get.”
“I don’t deserve anything better than this.”
Can you feel the difference? The first statement is acceptance; it’s simply facing reality head on.
The other statements come from a place of defeat and hopelessness, and that’s not going to feel peaceful.
Strategy 2. Shift From Victim To Creator
I’d like to dig a little more deeply into the difference between acceptance and resignation…
Each comes from a very different mindset.
Victim and Creator are both roles. And a role is just a part we play in certain situations or in life.
We can move in and out of these roles at any moment. It’s a choice we can make – once we are aware we have the choice.
Sometimes, we can become trapped by the Victim role.
Worse still, is when being a victim becomes our identity. (That’s not a happy place)
But the good news is that awareness is all we need to “shake it off…”
Victim vs Creator
You can easily transition from Victim to Creator by changing your language.
For example, the Victim uses Reactive language:
I can’t do anything about my life.
It’s not my fault; I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for…
My thoughts just happen to me.
I can’t just decide to feel better.
I have messed everything up.
Whereas, the Creator is the “empowered-opposite” of the Victim and uses Proactive language, such as:
I can do something about my life.
So, I may have learned these behaviours from others, but I’m responsible for fixing them.
It’s up to me to detach from unhelpful thoughts as they happen.
I can feel better and I choose to feel better.
It’s up to me to get myself out of this situation.
It takes courage to look at your life and say, “I’m being a victim”, but that’s exactly what you MUST do if you want to create more inner peace in your life.
Recognising this will allow you to follow the advice in the quote and deal with life as you find it, rather than measure it against some idea of how it “should be…”
Trust me. The results will be totally worth it.
What are the results you can expect?
The Power Of Now
Apart from more peace, you can expect to feel more in control; more empowered.
That’s because when you come from a place of acceptance, you enter the present moment and that’s where all your power and potential lives.
So, when you can see your life clearly and accept it, that means you are ready and able to take full responsibility for your current life circumstances.
It can feel deflating. You may not feel ‘up’ and ‘buoyant’ in this moment.
You ego or pride might take a hit – so be prepared for that. Facing reality is sometimes tough.
You’re human. You make mistakes. Life doesn’t always go your way.
It can be very sobering.
But from this place, you can quickly release expectations, judgments and fears, and just deal with what is right in front of you, so action becomes easier.
You are also more open to taking responsibility for what is within your control, and letting go of what is beyond your control, so you can ‘work’ your Circle of Influence.
That’s how “accepting your life as it is” moves you from Victim to Creator, and into a feeling of inner peace.
Give Up The Delusion
Indeed, when you are willing to see life as it is and take responsibility, then you are more empowered to make the changes you need and want to make and start to move your life in the direction you want it to go in.
This works even when you find yourself in the most difficult time of your life; when you are experiencing so much unhappiness or suffering.
If you can sit and look at the reality of your life through clear eyes, without deluding yourself, without pretending you or your life is something that it is not, then you bring yourself fully into the present moment…
A deep calm comes over you…you see life without distortion…
It may not be great – but it’s real, tangible, solid. And that’s something you can work with…
As a result, your mind will become quiet, your emotions will settle… and with your head now clear and your physiology not battling against you, you can actually start to make great choices for yourself and your future.
Strategy 3. Find Your Purpose
The third strategy I am recommending wholeheartedly is to connect to your capital ‘P’ purpose and your small ‘p’ purpose, as this can generate long-lasting inner calm.
When you break it right down, your small ‘p’ purpose is whatever you need to do right now, in this very moment in time.
In the bigger scheme of your life, your capital ‘P’ purpose is going to be found in focusing on things that bring you meaning, joy and fulfilment, and in contributing to the world in a way that uses your skills, gifts and talents.
If you know your Life Purpose, then I can predict that you will feel a much greater sense of peace in your life than another who has not found their Purpose.
However, even if you do not yet know you larger purpose on the planet, you can start with your small ‘p” purpose.
For instance, observing your “right now” purpose, will shift your thinking, help you feel more at peace, and enable you to decide what action to take.
(Hint: If you want to find your small ‘p’ purpose, try asking: “What is the most important use of my time and energy right now?”
Regardless of whether you tune in to the macro (life-purpose) or the micro (here-and-now purpose) – taking this approach will shift your inner state quite dramatically.
That’s because your purpose always arises out of the present moment.
The more you are accepting of the present moment, living as a Creator in the present moment, and allowing your purpose to reveal itself in the present moment, the more you will be filled with calm contentment.
(Hint: If you need help finding your purpose, then check out my free download here…)
4. Connect To Your Senses
My final strategy for immediately creating more peace of mind is to connect to your senses.
Returning briefly to Wayne Dyer’s quote: to “accept life as it is, rather than as it should be” requires that we are living in a sensory-grounded way, rather than stuck in fears of the future, regrets about the past, or judgments about the present.
Our senses anchor us to the present in a non-judgmental way.
When you truly sense your environment, you are totally one with the now.
Just imagine a Bengal tiger sensing its environment. The Bengal tiger doesn’t think: “Well this shouldn’t be happening.” It just deals with its sensory reality, because that’s all it incapable of doing.
However, as humans we are capable of sensing and thinking about our environment.
Importantly, it’s our senses, not our thoughts, that give us access to the present moment.
As soon as we abandon presence for unconscious thinking, we detach from our senses, and shift into our head – and our mental perceptions of life.
As the saying goes: the map is not the terrain.
The world in your head is not the real world – although we often confuse the two…
(NB: You can ‘think’ consciously, and this is quite different, as you are both ‘present’ and ‘thinking’)
Our habitual thoughts are not our reality. They are merely a poor reconstruction of life. And they tend to lead to lower quality responses and reactions.
That’s because we are out-of-step with life.
When you are truly present, your senses attuned, all your attention focused on where you are, what you are doing; your responses will be more potent, meaningful and impactful.
“Stop and Drop” Into Sensing
So “stop and drop” into your senses.
You can do this anywhere.
Just stop what you are doing, pick a sense and tune into it.
There are 5 main senses and 2 secondary senses.
Your primary senses are: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste
Additionally, there is also what’s called a proprioceptive sense – which is sensing your inner energy or body position.
Finally, you also have a kinaesthetic sense – which is when you sense your own body movements.
So, if you notice yourself wanting to feel more peaceful – then, wherever you happen to find yourself, bring yourself to that moment and be there.
From that place, choose one of the senses listed above and focus your attention on it.
It’s really as simple as that.
Accessing The Now
For instance, if you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed out or frustrated, you might choose to close your eyes (just to create a sensory circuit breaker from visual/auditory) and focus on the your proprioceptive sense – your inner body sensation.
A simple question to help you focus is this: When I close my eyes, how do I know my hands or feet are still there?
Then simply notice the sensations in your hands or feet, allow your attention to linger on these feelings, experiment with amplifying the feelings (making stronger), and meanwhile, let your thoughts drift into the background and allow your breath to deepen. (This is proprioception)
Try and stay with this practice for 1-2 minutes or longer if possible.
With practice, you’ll be able to do this with your eyes open.
Step Into Nature
Ideally, if you can access the outdoors, then nature is a great place to practice this activity.
That’s because nature is so peaceful, it’s much easier to access our own inner calm and tranquility.
When in nature, simply use your senses to attend to your immediate environment (sights, sounds, smells, textures etc).
For example, I often go and sit in amongst the trees on the property where I live. I listen to the birds, I tune into the smells of the forest, I watch the leaves dancing in the wind.
And as I allow the thinking mind to recede, a transformation begins: I find myself slowing down, breathing more deeply, and feeling calm and centred.
Each of us has the capacity to “drop into” the inner sanctum of deep stillness and experience the incredible benefits that come with regular visits to this place.
To sum up: Peace is ever-present. Peace is a choice.
Every day, in every moment, you get to choose whether to resist life or accept life as you find it.
Summary: 4 Simple Strategies Recap
In conclusion, and for those of you who skim-read and have skipped to the bottom of this article, here are the main points again:
1. Accept Your Starting Point – accepting where you are in your life right now, allows you to find peace immediately.
2. Move from Victim to Creator – shifting to the Creator role allows you to generate peace through empowered thinking and action.
3. Find Your Purpose – connecting to your purpose, this could be your larger life purpose, or your immediate, momentary, “here-and-now” purpose. This will reduce stress and increase inner calm.
4. Connect To Your Senses – shifting attention from thoughts to the senses provides access to the greater peace that is all around (and within) you.
If you could use some more peace in your life, whether in business, work or personal life, then get in touch today and I will help you design some strategies to fit your unique situation.
Learn more about Purpose Coaching
Life Coach & Business Strategist
Michelle McClintock is a Life Coach and Business Strategist who specialises in connecting people to their Purpose and helping them create a business they love…or just love the business they are in 🙂
Michelle has 30 years experience in personal development, as a Psychologist, Facilitator, Speaker and Coach. She loves it when people get new insights that spark massive growth and positive transformation.