As I get older, the importance of finding peace of mind grows. I dislike negative emotions and the effect they have on my well-being. Yet, life becomes increasingly stressful. Job changes, moves, divorces, marriages, kids, buying homes, presidential elections, and pandemics can all impact our peace of mind.
Yet, peace of mind does exist, even amid all that chaos.
Yes—peace of mind can exist simultaneously with the negative parts of life or feeling a little lost. It’s NOT just something you experience when life is perfect, and you have no problems or troubles. Finding peace of mind comes from a variety of things that work harmoniously in our lives. So if you want to know how to find peace of mind and happiness, read on.
The Path to Find Inner Peace and Happiness
On the journey to developing our inner happiness and peace, there are a few things we need to know. Firstly, how will we know we’ve found happiness? What about inner peace? What does it feel like?
What does happiness look like?
Happiness is the state of feeling good and content. It is a very subjective emotion, and what makes someone else happy might not bring you happiness. But some commonalities between joy and happiness can help anyone experience them.
Often, people know they feel happy when they are grounded. In general, their needs are met; they feel safe and present. Security, love, hobbies, friends, and family all might make you feel happy.
We can experience joy at any moment. Joy comes in both small and large sizes and can be as simple as seeing a leaf fall in the glistening autumn sun or as big as getting accepted into your first choice for doctoral school.
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What does inner peace feel like?
Many people may think that deep peace feels like you’re entirely in control and that stress bounces off of you. This is altogether false, and this is why many people who chase inner peace never get there: they’re chasing the wrong feeling!
Inner peace feels like you are 100% capable of handling anything that life throws at you with grace and gentleness. You understand that life has ebbs and flows. Bad things happen. But you react with integrity and mindfulness that help create an underlying calmness to your life and mental state.
Peace is not a feeling that we can chase: it is a feeling we must cultivate in our lives. We must plant the seeds, do the work, and then after it all, and we may reap the reward of feeling at peace.
How can I be at peace when the world is in utter chaos?
I have been struggling with inner peace and happiness since the pandemic began, but it has become infinitely worse as the pandemic has drawn on.
We’re dealing with a turbulent political climate right now, on top of the most severe weather catastrophes due to climate change that we’ve ever experienced as a planet. I’ve lost my job, I’ve lost many family members. I set strict boundaries with them over politics and not feeling emotionally safe around them.
Loss seems to surround me, and I often feel like I’m in a sinking ship.
How can I keep calm? How can I carry on and find peace in this world somewhere? Are you feeling a little unhinged now too?
23 Practices to Help You Find Inner Peace and Happiness
As I mentioned above, finding peace isn’t about chasing some eutopia where you don’t experience anything negative. It’s about being free from our emotions. Our emotions like anxiety, anger, and fear hold us hostage, more often than we know. Still, when we understand our emotions and understand how they play into our lives, we can come from a place of neutral energy, objectivity, and calmness.
Read these 23 tips. Do them every day. Thinking about them once in a while or just whenever you’re overwhelmed with chaos won’t do you any good because you’re going to go right back into that fear and negativity.
1) Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and attentive when one door but also not taking anything too seriously. This means you aren’t lost in thought but can focus on the environment around you, which, of course, is easier said than done.
We start to practice mindfulness by being aware of our senses. Use the sense of sight first, and try to notice five things around you that you can see. Describe them. I can see cookie crumbs on my boys’ table from lunch. I can see my empty mug on my desk.
Go through the rest of your senses and notice. Use your sense of smell and hearing! Listen to music, bake some cookies. These are the practices that can bring you back to the present moment.
2) Practice meditation
Meditation is a method of calming the mind and the body by focusing on one point, sound, or movement.
When people start to practice meditation, the goal is typically to focus on their breathing, but soon they notice that their thoughts have wandered off. We gently return our attention to our breath and repeat as necessary.
Some people may experience a feeling of discomfort when they try meditation for the first time because it forces them out of their comfort zone. Meditation is not easy, but the more you practice it, the more you will feel comfortable with being uncomfortable.
And feeling comfortable with discomfort is essential in finding inner peace because nothing can sway or jar you.
3) Live in the present moment.
When we’ve begun to practice mindfulness and meditation, we stop living inside our heads as much. According to research done by psychologists at Harvard University, people spend about 47% of their day “thinking about something other than what they’re doing.”
That is almost half of your waking hours, spent inside your head instead of in the world around you!
The truth is that when our mind wanders, we experience less happiness! Being present in moments, especially spending time with others, can cultivate that happiness and peace.
4) Stop trying to control everything.
Your brain tricks you that when everything is under your control, you are somehow more secure and have less chance of something truly awful happening. But this is a lie to make us think we’re feeling better.
We find more success, more emotional groundedness, and a deeper life when we let go of worry and embrace our lives’ natural rhythm and trajectory. Although I most often disagree with quotes and cliches, here’s one I actually like:
When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. Defeat is nothing but education; it is the first step towards something better.—Alexander Graham Bell.
In other words, keep your eyes open and be mindful.
5) Utilize good stress management
Stress management is how we handle, prevent, and cope with the negative things in our lives. It is a coherent plan of action to lessen the adverse effects of stress on our mind and body.
It can include using positive coping skills, managing time effectively, or changing one’s environment. Stress management should be both proactive (regular and consistent) and reactive (extra things we can do when stress gets overwhelming).
Meditation can be a form of stress relief, and so can many things on this list. There is so much overlap, but they are all active events that we partake in to find that inner peace.
6) Practice self-care
Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it’s essential. Self-care is similar to stress management, but not precisely the same. As Brianna Wiest explains, “Self-care is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.” Self-care is the essential core of our life, not things we add just to make ourselves feel good.
The three things you can do to practice self-care are: looking after your body (eating healthy and exercising regularly), looking after your mind (reading, meditating, doing yoga or walking), and looking after your spirit (praying, listening to music).
7) Get out into nature.
Spending time outdoors is essential. Seeing the world in its natural state slows us down, helps our minds wander less and focus more. Getting out into nature can also help regulate your sleep patterns too.
We can gain more energy and even feel less pain when we’re out in nature. For me, my breath seems more even, and I feel calm just by being around trees. For you, it might be the ocean that brings you a peaceful feeling.
Try to incorporate nature into your daily life as much as possible. Take a walk in the woods, eat lunch in the park near your office building, or take a winter vacation to a ski resort. However, you can add the presence of nature into your day; you will experience a deep sense of calm that permeates a kind of peace into your life.
Exercise is another essential element in our lives. We need it physically, mentally, and emotionally. When we exercise our bodies, they release chemicals called endorphins which help us experience pleasure and well-being. This allows us to experience a deeper kind of happiness during the day as we move about our tasks.
Not only do you get more energy from getting up and moving around, but you also get a more profound sense of relaxation and peace. Endorphins help everything feel a little softer and easier to bear. They make us less restless, anxious, irritable, and moody because they impact our brain chemicals enough that our stress levels are significantly lowered.
9) Eat healthily
Food is another essential part of our lives. It’s more than just keeping us alive – it also can change how we feel and think.
We should consider eating a healthy diet as a way to take care of ourselves and practice self-care. Eating well can help give you strength, energy, calmness, clarity, increased happiness, better sleep – just to name a few of the benefits.
Fruits and vegetables are essential for good health. The B vitamins found in fruits and veggies help keep cortisol at bay. Make sure you get enough fiber, too, because it helps keep blood sugar stable, reducing cravings.
Loading our bodies with sugar can make our anxiety worse, and it can also make our bodies feel sluggish. When we eat sugar, we get a rush initially but then an energy crash soon after. This makes us crave more sugar and leads to a cycle of eating bad foods that keeps us on edge all day.
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10) Spend time with family and friends
These are the people who love us for who we are and accept our flaws. When life gets tough, they’re there to help pick us up – without judgment. We all need a group of people in our lives that lift us up when we’re feeling down or make it better if something is going wrong. These relationships ground us and help us feel at ease in the face of turmoil.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our life that we forget to take time out for them. This is a crucial mistake we sometimes make, and it can be detrimental to both ourselves and others because it leaves us feeling empty and alone and does the same to the other person.
It’s not just about spending face-to-face time with the – phone calls, texts, emails, and even social media can all be worthwhile. Hearing from people we love and knowing they care about us is always lovely, and it makes us want to do the same for them.
A word of warning, though: beware of toxic people or those who don’t have your best interest at heart. These people can derail that feeling of groundedness that you’re beginning to create. So don’t be afraid to set boundaries for your own health and emotional well-being.
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11) Create art
Art of any kind is very therapeutic. It’s a form of self-expression that can help us experience a more profound sense of peace when we carve out the time to do it.
There are many types of art out there, and you don’t need to be good at them or even know how to create your own. All that matters is that you’re putting yourself out there on a creative level and doing what makes you happy.
If art isn’t something you usually consider, try being open to it. It doesn’t have to fit into any expectations or notions of what it should be either – just let go and find an outlet for your emotions that feels right to you. You never know, it may become a favorite hobby, and you’ll look back on the drawings or paintings you make as a time capsule of how you felt when you created them.
12) Look for joy everywhere.
It has been said that while happiness is experienced in our bodies and minds, joy is felt in our spirits.
Joy is something we can find anywhere if we look for it. We should all be able to experience a little joy in our lives because it’s necessary for us to feel happy and content. Maybe it’s hearing the way the thunder rumbles before a storm or holding your baby’s tiny hand in yours.
Joy works because it dumps those feel-good hormones into your brain and body, helping you to get through the daily grind much more easily. It’s a state of mind that you can experience no matter what mood you’re in or what kind of day you’re having.
We can find peace of mind by tapping into joy because they are so closely related and share the same space in our souls.
13) Listen to music
Music is in our souls. When we hear a song that speaks to us, it can be like a transfer of energy. It can move us and resonate deep within, whether by the lyrics or the notes or both.
As a professional musician, I listen to a wide variety of genres. Some of these songs can make me feel invincible, while others give me that much-needed feeling of ‘home.’ They remind me that there is beauty and peace, even if it’s just for a moment.
Music can be used to soothe our souls and help us feel at peace when we need it most. Whether you listen to classical or you’re more into pop, find the songs that make your heart soar.
And while genres like heavy metal or hard rock are great for getting out anxiety, and comedy songs are great for a laugh, they’re not likely to truly touch your soul. Instead, find some that seem to put you into a different mental state and touch the nature of existence and peace.
14) Eat delicious food
You might not think that food and peace of mind go hand in hand, but studies have shown they do. Eating something delicious gives the same kind of pleasure as a hug from a good friend or a kiss from someone you love.
Really, what’s better than feeling great and having an enhanced mood just because you ate something that made your mouth water?
Food is a gift to humankind, and it should be enjoyed slowly and savored like the delicacy that it is. It nourishes our bodies and minds, which are inextricably linked. Without our bodies, it would be difficult to think and function at all – but without our minds, who are we?
By eating something really good for you (or indulging in a little treat), you’re also feeding your soul with joy and peace of mind. What more could you ask for?
15) Focus on your breath
Breathing is something we do involuntarily, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore how we breathe. Typically, people in our modern, hectic world today breathe in a very shallow way.
When I am overwhelmed with chaos, I use various breath exercises to find some calm immediately.
Just focus on your breathing and allow yourself to be aware of the sensation of the air moving. It goes into your nose, down through your throat, and into your lungs. Try to imagine the air filling them up and making them expand like over-inflated balloons, then slowly releasing it like a slow leak from an old tire. Repeat this until you are more relaxed, which can take anywhere between five to twenty breaths.
You can also do alternate nostril breath, which slows our air down and resets our bodies back into our parasympathetic nervous system, representing our “rest and digest” state, which is naturally quiet and calm. This calmness instills that inner peace into the essence of our being.
16) Write a gratitude journal.
Taking time to write down the things you are grateful for is a great way to focus your attention on something other than whatever it is that’s bothering you. By putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, we can see some perspective and understand how little some of these problems are.
Writing gratitude lists daily helps us feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves – that life is more significant than our problems and whatever was stressing us out.
A gratitude journal doesn’t have to be formal or extensive; even a sentence or two will do. But it should include anything that reminds you that your life is rich and full of beautiful things.
Finding peace and happiness is incomplete without forgiveness. When we hold a grudge, we burn ourselves up on the inside. When someone wrongs you or hurts you in some way, let them go. You can’t change what happened, and holding onto that energy keeps it afloat in your life and poisoning everything else.
Forgiveness does not even mean that you have to forgive someone to their face. Finding that forgiveness within your own heart and doing it for yourself is enough.
If you’re the one who’s done something wrong, apologize. You must do it from the heart and be as authentic as possible. (Try these tips for giving a genuine apology.)
Failing to forgive or ask for forgiveness wholly prevents us from having the peace of mind we desire in life.
18) Embrace the impermanence of life
Life is transient. It’s an ever-changing, dynamic ordeal that is always in motion and constantly changing. So why cling to things? Why struggle against the current when we can let ourselves be carried along with it and enjoy the ride through whatever it may bring us?
Clinging to our possessions is only a tiny part of what makes us struggle. Caring about what other people think is another form of adhering, and the list goes on and on.
Life as a whole is in motion, and we are experiencing it right now! Live your life for each moment – don’t cling to things you wish you had (like an easy path or smooth journey). Get the most out of your life and live it to the fullest with whatever way you’re currently on to find inner peace.
19) Resolve your childhood trauma
Childhood is a critical time in our lives. It shapes us into the people we will become and leaves the most significant impact on our personality.
When we experience trauma as a young child, it can negatively affect how we develop socially, emotionally, physically, and psychologically. You may not know that traumatic events in childhood can have a tremendous effect on our well-being and mental health as we grow into adults. Many theories tell us that childhood trauma and psychological abuse are much more pervasive than we know.
Whatever you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, spiritual guide, or whatever works for you – resolving it and finding new, positive ways to relate to the world is essential to finding our inner peace and happiness.
20) Live simply
Easier said than done, but the more complex we make our lives with belongings and desire for luxury, the less free and happy we really are. Sure, there is a baseline of how much money we need to earn to be the most content. But did you know that once your income goes beyond that baseline, that your happiness does not increase?
It’s true! This shows us that material things can’t bring us authentic content or happiness in life. So keep things simple. Own fewer things. Keep your home free from clutter. Get rid of whatever is unnecessary in your home, but you can also declutter your emotional and mental states.
This kind of simplicity gives us positive feelings or emotional ease and inner peace in a profound way.
21) Let go of the past
Whether it’s in the distant past or the more recent, holding onto the negativity of our history is only hindering us from finding inner peace and happiness. Whatever happened or didn’t happen – let it go.
Whether it’s losing our soulmate, being betrayed by a friend, or having regrets, we all tend to cling to the past. We can’t change what’s already happened, so why carry it around with us? We don’t need to forget about the past entirely just because we let it go, but we don’t have to carry the burden of it as we move into a new chapter.
Letting go of our past allows us to feel lighter, happier, and more fulfilled with life. It takes away a lot of that heaviness that we carry around on our shoulders and makes room for a brighter way of living that includes your true inner peace.
22) Find acceptance
Forgiveness is one thing, but finding authentic acceptance for whatever happens to us – the good and the bad – that’s a life well-lived. If we can only embrace what has already happened, we are free of its impact on our lives.
Acceptance is something challenging to force upon oneself because it requires letting go of whatever expectations you may have of how life should be. This is quite a difficult task because the way you perceive life to be should be – the idea that things are supposed to go one way, no matter what – that’s what makes us struggle against the current.
23) Just be
The final step on this list to finding inner peace and happiness is one of the most difficult. The idea that we should just “be” doesn’t come naturally in our society because of the competitiveness and individual focus instead of community focus.
Just being doesn’t mean you don’t do anything. It means you are free from whatever may have held you back in the past – future, anxiety, fear of failure – and you’re able to live freely in that moment. There’s no need to rush because we already have what we truly need: Life itself.
Whatever you do with your life is up to you, but if you can just be, you can tap into the inner peace and happiness you deserve.
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Learning to find inner peace and happiness isn’t “finding” it at all. It’s unearthing the peace deep within us, buried under all our worries, our bad habits, our fear. But the truth is that peace of mind is there for you to cultivate with your habits, just by living.
Share your inner peace with others.
As a last note, I want to encourage you to share these feelings of deep inner peace with others. By “share,” I do not mean to push these things on others, insisting that this is the only way. You cannot force another person off their path.
Instead, when someone finds themselves amid a chaotic or unpeaceful situation, offer comfort, solace, compassion, and non-judgment. We can only guide them down the path to feelings of freedom and inner peace: we cannot walk it for them.
Be peaceful and calm, and others might just ask what your secret is to find inner peace.
Tell me about how you experience your peace and happiness.
Drop a comment below!