The most valuable achievement of all.
We cannot fool ourselves forever, no matter how hard we try. I believe we can convince ourselves that we feel a certain way, or temporarily change our emotions, or simply mask something that is eating away at us…but at the end of the day, we will know deep down that it’s all an act.
That is…unless we do the real inner work necessary to create authentic and lasting change.
This is the only true path to genuine inner peace. Inner peace is what empowers you to be happy with yourself when you’re by yourself.
It may be elusive, but it is achievable. Here’s how to do it.
1: Stop trying to prove yourself to other people.
This one point alone can save you immense amounts of inner-turmoil. If you’re brutally honest with yourself, how much time do you spend trying to win other people’s approval?
Maybe you’re single and trying to win over a love interest. Maybe you’re trying to make a name for yourself at work. Maybe you’re trying to convince your social media audience that you’re living a life that simply doesn’t exist…
What often happens in these scenarios is that the decisions you make on a regular basis are designed to accomplish an external goal, and not to create real and lasting fulfillment in your life.
In other words, you make decisions based on what other people think, not what you truly want.
As a result, your life might look good on the outside…but doesn’t feel good on the inside.
When you focus on what it is that you truly want and who you truly are, it’s much easier to sleep soundly at night.
2: Stop confusing being busy with being productive.
Particularly in American culture, there seems to be some perceived value in being “busy” all the time…almost like it’s some badge of honor.
Conversely, this leads us to devaluing relaxation, and almost feeling guilty for it.
…what else could you be doing in that moment?!
Sometimes, the best answer is exactly what you’re doing — which is nothing.
Being busy all the time doesn’t always mean you’re being productive. It doesn’t mean you’re moving closer to your goals. It doesn’t mean you’re serving yourself or the people around you…
It could simply mean that you’re scrambling for something to do at all times, perhaps to avoid being alone with your thoughts, or feeling like a slacker, or, heaven forbid…feeling like someone thinks you’re gasp lazy (see point #1).
If you’re really honest with yourself, you know you can focus on result producing activities and take up much less actual time doing it. How much of your time is spent on busy work? Or chatting with a friend when you’re at work? Or “watercooler talk”?
I once read that there’s something like 38 seconds of actual action during a professional baseball game that lasts for hours.
Think about the millisecond that the ball is in the air during a pitch, or that it takes to run from base to base, or for that homerun ball to scale the outfield wall…
The remaining 3 hours of the game is just…crawling by.
What if you condensed your work into specific tasks that only produce results, or set you up for them in the future?
Think of how much time, and peace of mind, you’d find yourself with…
3: Set stronger emotional boundaries.
Emotional boundaries are a recurring theme in my articles because they’ve been a recurring theme in virtually all of my coaching clients over the past decade.
People who are strong and commanding at work…find themselves accepting poor (or even toxic) treatment at home.
The “why?” of this question depends on the person, and it’s also a discussion for a different article…
But in this context, failing to set or maintain emotional boundaries quite simply allows negative and toxic influences into your life, which contaminate your mental wellbeing.
To put it bluntly: Stop letting the bullshit into your life, and it’ll stop having power over you.
4: Stop accepting every single invitation.
Part of setting emotional boundaries is learning how to say no to people you care about.
Maybe you’re just too burned out to go to the bar tonight, but you feel bad saying no.
Maybe your coworker really does need a ride to that networking event, but their house is an hour out of your way.
Maybe you just don’t have the mental capacity to take on another project right now…
If you’re a “people pleaser” who hates the idea of turning people down (or is afraid of losing their approval upon doing so…ahem…point #1), then you’ll just accept everything that comes your way.
What’s the result?
A full and jumbled mind that’s become overloaded with deadlines and responsibilities.
Not every nook and cranny of your mind needs to be packed to the brim. There are benefits to leaving some empty space…benefits like inner peace.
Read also: How to stay consistent on your goal
5: Stop wishing people were something they’re not.
If I had a dollar for everyone who told me they tried to fix someone they were dating, I’d have my family floating on a yacht in Monaco right now.
You just might be one of them.
Or you might be someone who believes people don’t just deserve 2nd chances…but 200th chances.
Or you might see everyone’s “potential,” yet ignore their reality.
This might sound harsh, but you need to learn to meet people where they are.
Love them as they are today, not for who they might become…because the truth is, they might not actually become them.
And if you’re dating them, or mentoring them, or hitching your wagon to theirs in hopes that they someday get their act together…you’re quite literally putting your own happiness into someone else’s hands. Someone who might not value it, especially if they don’t value their own.
Care for others, yes — but be honest about how much they’re caring about you (and themselves) in return.
6: Start practicing more gratitude.
I once implemented a gratitude practice with a private client. She is a high powered executive at an international company and was feeling a lack of internal fulfillment.
“I already know what I’m going to be writing down.” She told me.”
“My daughter, my house, the usual.”
“Okay, let’s see how it plays out over a few weeks.” I recommended.
Then our weekly meetings got more interesting…
“Today, I wrote that I’m grateful for indoor plumbing.” She told me.
She started to feel a deep sense of gratitude for the things that we overlook every single day. She was gaining a greater sense of awareness in her personal life about just how much she had to be thankful for…and she’d spend a few minutes every day allowing herself to be immersed in that gratitude.
Those small daily practices made immeasurable differences.
7: Distance yourself from negative people.
It matters not if they’re your friends, or coworkers, or even members of your family…toxic people are one of the most harmful influences we can allow into our lives.
Whether they’re constantly complaining, or always bringing drama to your life, or discouraging you from things that make you happy — they will live inside of your mind to some varying degree.
It may not be an easy thing to do, particularly for family members, but it’s one of the most important.
When you distance yourself from negative people, you’ll often find that the negativity disappears with them.
Read also: Daily habits to improve your mental strength
8: Live in full alignment with your truest self.
Here it is, the holy grail of inner-peace. The word that I use literally every single session with clients. The very driving force in who you are and what you achieve in life:
Your identity is quite literally who you are. It’s who you perceive yourself to be. It’s a projection of your values and beliefs…
…yet, so often, people are unclear on what their own identity is.
Because we spend years — perhaps decades — making decisions based on our career, or our family, or other people’s opinions of us. We allow ourselves to be pressured and feel guilty when we push back. Or, most commonly, we just never ask the question about what’s going to make us truly happy and fulfilled.
So, we never discover the answer.
I find this to be the biggest disruption in people’s sense of inner-peace. They just…don’t know who they really are.
They’re waking up every day and living someone else’s life, experiencing a perpetual sense of nagging and pulling that’s coming from an invisible source they can never seem to identify.
That source is their true identity, their true self, telling them that they’re in the wrong career, or in the wrong relationship, or doing something that goes against their moral standard.
It begins as a whisper, but grows louder the longer it’s ignored.
The problem is that most people never know where it’s coming from, so they learn to live with it. They figure that “this is just the way things are” and they keep going.
But, it doesn’t have to be.
You don’t have to keep feeling unfulfilled, or sad, or lost.
You can find your way back to the road in the night. You can light your own way and discover the path that you’re truly meant to be on.
You can achieve inner peace, which will shine like a beacon out of your heart and light your way forward.
That beacon is powered by how much you are living in alignment with your true self.
When it’s at its brightest — you’ll never lose your way.
CONTRIBUTED BY James Michael Sama
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