Inner peace is not something that eludes you until you discover one key thing or meet that one special person.
It’s not dependent on things outside yourself. Inner peace is waiting to be unlocked from within you.
For better or worse, it is a long term game. The bad news is that the longer you wait, and the less you invest towards it, the less inner peace you will find. The good news is that there is a clear pathway you can follow to inner peace that, over time, will lead you to greater fulfillment.
I know what it feels like to want the answer to it all right away. Back when I was in my early 20’s, I often felt the urge to drop everything and head to a monastery. I felt like by doing that I could alleviate all the pain I was experiencing and find true inner peace.
I decided against that path, and I’m glad I did.
While my situation wasn’t all that enjoyable, I realized that I was partially accountable because all the thinking I was doing about how much my situation sucked was just making things worse.
My mind was taking a situation and making the worst out of it.
In those moments, I was choosing to focus on all the things I didn’t like about my situation, as opposed to the things that were good.
So I made a decision to start complaining less and appreciating more.
This process requires two key steps. First, you have to notice where your thoughts are. You have to start catching yourself when you’re thinking unhappy thoughts. By doing this, you start to reduce the amount of extra suffering you’re inflicting on yourself.
Secondly, you have to decide that’s not what you want to focus on. In that moment where you catch yourself, you have re-direct your attention to something else.
I suggest two alternative areas to focus on when you catch your mind in the gutter: 1) focus on the present moment (the sounds/sights/tastes/smells/etc.) or 2) create a thought in your brain about something that you’re grateful for.
When you do this, you’re not just doing a woo-woo activity to make yourself feel good. You’re re-wiring your brain’s neural pathways. If you do this exercise enough, over time, your brain will start to naturally focus on the present moment and gratitude more often without you having to do anything! It’s a beautiful thing, and it will make you happier.
So, today I challenge you to observe your mind as you go throughout your day. When you catch it wandering, focus on either the present moment or on something that you’re grateful for.