The quick definition of inner peace is: Becoming a devout Buddhist; being completely passive, timid and reserved no matter the circumstances; quitting using Western medicine in favor of crystal-based healing practices; learning to surf and/or fly. Umm. No it is not. Come on, I joke because I care.
With all due respect to both Point Break and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon inner peace has absolutely nothing to do with that stuff. But what DOES inner peace look like in our modern, fast paced world? That is what we are going to explore in this post.
Inner peace is not an externally recognizable state. Someone simply looking at you or observing your actions will not have any solid proof of your personal inner peace. Inner peace is an internal state of spiritual and mental balance. In a world of constant tumult, the state of inner peace allows calm. In a world of constant noise, the state of inner peace allows quiet. In a world of constant distraction, inner peace allows concentration.
Have you ever been faced with cleaning up a room or an area that seems completely out of control; where the task of organization seems nearly insurmountable? Well that room is our messy modern minds. Inner peace gives us the ability to understand why we threw stress and anxiety all over the floor of our mind and lets us clean it up. With so many dealing with mental health issues, drowning in work, moving away from traditional religion and spirituality, inner peace gives us the chance to take a step back and calm down for a moment.
True inner peace is achieving happiness through the reconnection with yourself. It is becoming a fuller version of yourself by rediscovering all you have to offer. It is the ability to shed the superficial pains and worries that weigh down your mind. It is accepting yourself for who you are, where you have been and where you are now so you have the ability to truly change for the better.
“But I still get angry!” I have heard this a thousand times as people explain their frustrations at reaching for inner peace. And my answer is always the same: “Good! That means you are still alive!” Listen, peace is not defined by a lack of anger. Anger is a perfectly reasonable, healthy emotion. Just like love or compassion. So why do we feel the need to suppress our anger? Society has taught us to look on the bright side, push our anger down and lock it away. But the truth is that, in order to fully embrace all that makes us unique, we need to meet, recognize and deal with ALL of our emotions; the positive and the negative. Anger can be righteous. Anger can be petulant. But either way, we feel it. So the only thing it cannot be is ignored. Instead, use it. Turn anger into motivation. Turn anger into energy to fuel yourself and your transformation. Take charge of your anger and make it a productive force in your life instead of suppressing it and allowing it to destroy you from the inside.
Self improvement and betterment is a lifelong process. There is no “finish line” where you becoming some glowing, shining example of cosmic oneness beyond reproach. We are all just trying our best to swim against the tide of social guilt and depravity. The key is to never give up. The big secret is to just keep trying. The journey towards inner peace is much like a game of Chutes & Ladders. You may rise, you may fall, but the game is not over as long as you keep playing.
Inner peace is not instant pudding, it is cook and serve. Many people think of inner peace as a radio frequency they can tune into and right the wave. But it is much more of a methodical process. It takes time. It takes a degree of patience. It takes a desire to be better to and for yourself and those around you. Introspection, the core of inner peace, can be difficult, even unpleasant. You are facing not only the good and bad within yourself, but also the reasons those parts exist. That means reviewing, re-examining and re-living the most tragic and/or painful moments of your life. The heavy stuff. The skeletons in our closet. But it is worth it. Those are the moments that make us who we are. They need addressed. So throw open that closet door, let the bones fall where they may and start dealing with them. Inner peace and self-acceptance are inexorably linked. You can never experience true happiness until you stop blaming yourself for your past and treating yourself as the victim. We need to meet our past, examine it, accept our role and the circumstances, and move on.
Finally, we MUST stop chasing perfection. Perfectionists train their mind that anything less than perfect is failure. As such, they tend to only pursue tasks where perfection is either assured or at least confidently attainable. It becomes an excuse for not trying things that they fear or do not understand at the outset. We are humans. Homo screwupicus. Relax. It is normal to not be perfect. At some point, we will all fall short of our own perfect expectations. Inner peace comes not from eliminating our weaknesses, but from learning and accepting both our strengths AND our weaknesses. That is how we grow.
Hopefully this helps to explain what inner peace looks like in our modern world. Remember, the most important word in “inner peace” is “inner”! You are doing this for you. It is your inner world. It all comes down to you.