Finding inner peace – it's a journey for all of us. Human condition has imprinted on us the need to search for something. While these days that may be interpreted as an external need we have to satisfy. There is so much more to it than searching for riches, purpose or that one person who will make you happy. Have you ever felt like "one day" you will finally reach your goal? Or one day you will finally be happy? Well the truth is – you already have the power within you. You just need to learn how to access that inner peace by making small lifestyle changes.
These changes have transformed my life over the last few years. While the journey may have been rough at times – as one of my best friends always say – "you can't have the rough without the smooth." It will be challenging at times and you may feel like giving up and focusing your energies on shallower pleasures. But if you stick with it and make gradual changes – you'll one day look back and realise how far you have come. Getting to a point where you can access that inner calm and serenity is one of the most powerful skills you can have. It can completely change your world.
- Read: How the power of positivity can change your life
- Read: A beginner's guide to mindfulness and meditation
What is inner peace?
It doesn't matter whether you're a spiritual person, or whether you're atheist. The search for inner peace is something that transcends religion and society ideals. It's an inward journey that we all go through in our lives. Some of us progress further than others, some of us transform our lives in the name of finding inner peace. But what is it that we're all searching for? In a word, self-acceptance. We humans are a confused and mixed-up breed. Every aspect of our lives is affected by the projected expectations and ideals of the society we live in, and those that have gone before us. So no wonder we find it so hard to find that sense of calm and contentment when we live in a world that constantly places judgement on everything we do.
We might have a different understanding of what we are searching for. Some might be looking for happiness, others for love, purpose, self-acceptance. But essentially all of these goals can be broken down to the search for happiness within yourself – acceptance and knowledge that you are enough. Reaching that understanding that the only thing you can control in life is yourself. That you can't place such great importance on the thoughts, comments, reactions of others – or you will never find true joy. Finding inner peace is a battle, it's a lifelong challenge and we're all a work in progress.
Why are we so obsessed with finding inner peace?
The truth is, we're all searching for something. Whether it's the person who will make our life complete, the job of our dreams, the home we will always want to come back to. It always seems to centre around the idea of seeking perfection. It actually all comes back to capitalist ideas that we always need to be seeking the next best thing. While staying busy keeping up with the Joneses' – we're distracted by our incessant spending and searching. When in fact, removing all of that "noise" from our lives is the one thing that would give us what we never realised we were searching for all along. Deep down all any of us really want is to find that sense of inner calm and contentment – real happiness. And I can tell you – finding inner peace definitely doesn't come from the endless accumulation of stuff.
How will finding inner peace help you?
Throughout your life, you will face challenges – some more than others. It can feel like the world is against you at times, that you'll never reach your goal. When in fact, each challenge brings you closer to self-acceptance. It can be a huge learning curve as you stumble from one challenge to another – a lot of us feel like we're bumbling our way through life. But as the years pass by, you start to gain perspective and to realise that the huge challenges you faced at the beginning were actually not much more than a tiny stumbling block. As you become more resilient, brave, strong and accepting of your own weaknesses – you creep ever closer to finding inner peace.
This elusive goal has no endpoint but is an everlasting journey towards a happier and more accepting life. By taking the first steps along this path, you'll find that you become a calmer and happier person. All those things that make you feel anxious or worried, no longer take up so much space in your head. That constant background noise of thoughts racing around your brain, slowly lessens by the day until you can clear your thoughts. It becomes easier to separate out thoughts that bring you joy, and to rid yourself of the demons that plague your mind. You'll find patience, contentment and a quiet within, that no-one will be able to take away from you. And better still, that you can take with you, wherever you go.
How has finding inner peace helped me?
Don't get me wrong – I'm still very much a work in progress and I'm learning more each day. But the last decade of my life has been the biggest learning curve. I've faced the biggest challenges yet and have overcome things I never could have imagined I would face. It's been painful, hard, lonely and there were points I questioned whether it was all worth it – whether I could carry on. But, on the other side of this – it's also helped me grow, becoming more accepting of myself and others. It's given me the drive and determination to achieve things I never dreamed possible. But best of all – it's made me take a step back. I realised how little control I have over the world and over my life. It's taught me to be accepting of this and to only place importance in the things I can control.
Throughout my travels over the last six years, I have become a completely different person. A few years ago, I was impatient, quick to anger and frustration, and at times, judgemental. I'm still all of those things in smaller doses, but I feel like my entire soul has relaxed over the last few years. I've slowed down my lifestyle, I've stepped back and I've stopped worrying about the things I can't control. It's transformed the way I travel, and it's what helped me heal so well after escaping domestic violence. It's been a long and hard journey – but every second of struggle was worth it to reach a point where I am so accepting of myself and others.
10 tips for finding inner peace
Slow down – stop living at 100mph
We are all guilty of being busy all the time. Our society has an obsession with constantly "doing". Whether it's work, socialising or simply projecting the idea that we're all living our best lives 24/7. We've become human "doings" instead of human "beings". It's bred a generation of people who don't know how to slow down and just "be". Luckily now society seems to be shifting in the opposite direction and living a more mindful life is becoming the goal. Stop living your life at 100mph, stop booking up all of your time with work, friends and side hustles.
TOP TIP: Schedule in time to just "be" and you'll notice a huge difference to your mindset.
Switch off and just "be"
Technology is one of the greatest achievements and failures of the modern world. While we have created a million new ways to connect with others, we've forgotten how to connect with ourselves. These endless distractions of mobile phones, laptops, iPads, Alexa and TV. We're constantly stimulated and crave it when it stops – without it our lives feel empty or "boring". But the truth is, it's only when we learn to switch off that we really begin to connect with ourselves again. If you can't just be, how can you ever have a hope of finding inner peace?
TOP TIP: Try a technology free day – leave your phone at home and head out for a walk. Or introduce phone-free mornings.
Be alone with the thoughts in your head
Hands up if you're guilty of constantly overpowering the noise inside your head? Whether it's listening to podcasts, chatting to friends and family, watching TV. We're never just quiet and we never give ourselves the time to be alone with our thoughts. This is so important for finding inner peace – after all, how can you ever expect to be happy if you don't even dare face your own thoughts? For those who suffer with anxiety or worry a lot – this can be a scary thing to do. But the more you do this and stop avoiding dealing with your mind, the happier and healthier you will be.
TOP TIP: Take the time to check in with yourself – ask yourself how you are feeling. If you're having bad or negative thoughts – acknowledge them, don't deny the feeling. But find a way to turn it into a positive. Creating this new habit will change your outlook on life.
Tackle the way you speak to yourself
Have you ever noticed that we're always saying the nicest things and complimenting our friends? But when it comes to ourselves, we're harsh, critical and borderline bullies. It's amazing how much your internal commentary can define the person you become in life. But when you're constantly exposed to it, it becomes more powerful than any form of advertising. It's so important to listen in on the thoughts in your head, realise the way you speak to yourself and to make an effort to be kinder. Be your own cheerleader and interrupt when you start to have negative or mean thoughts.
TOP TIP: Each day, look in the mirror and say 5 things you like about yourself. Such a small step can make a huge difference on your journey to self-acceptance.
Stop trying to control everything
Realise the only thing you can control is your own reaction. It's scary to admit, but also hugely empowering. This is one that many of us might not even be aware that we are doing. But if you're someone who feels frustration, anger, sadness and disappointment often. You might be subconsciously placing too much importance on how much control you have over your world. Changing your perspective allows you to be so much happier, because it means you don't allow your happiness to be affected by the actions of others. That means, if you get a nasty comment on Instagram, or you get dumped or treated badly by a partner – you're able to separate your experience from the actions of another.
This one was hugely powerful for me when I was overcoming my experiences with domestic violence. I realised, I couldn't control how he was behaving. All I could control was my own emotions and reactions – this thought gave me the courage to leave. Afterwards, it helped me to realise that the one thing I had control over – was how I moved forward with my life.
TOP TIP: Always take a second to pause before you react. It's easy to fly off the handle in the heat of the moment. But taking just 10 seconds to breathe can really change the way you act, and react.
Stop letting yourself be a punching bag for toxic people
It's simple – toxic people drain your energy. Whether it's a friend, family member or a partner. You are worthy of so much more, and you don't have to support these people. You don't exist to be their physical, mental or emotional punching bag. There are so many damaged and broken people in this world who sadly don't want to do the work, or they're simply at a very different stage in their journey. These people come along to challenge us in our lives and to help us grow. But rejecting them from our lives and refusing to share our energy with them – is a huge step towards finding inner peace.
TOP TIP: Ask yourself whether the people in your life are enhancing your life – what do they contribute? If all they do is sap your energy and bring negativity in – it's time to cut them loose.
Learn the power of saying "no"
It's okay to say no. It's healthy to establish boundaries. I feel like they're two sentences that aren't said enough in this world. You don't owe anyone anything. You don't have to justify your existence with what you do for others. This can be such a difficult one to learn and the lessons that come our way can be earth-shattering. They were for me. But learning to set these boundaries and the power of saying "no" is a huge turning point in your life. It can transform both your life and your relationships. Start small and work your way up to the bigger things, don't be afraid of losing people in the process.
TOP TIP: Always remember that anyone who complains or reacts to you setting boundaries – is someone who was benefitting when you had no boundaries.
Educate yourself – read, listen, watch
There is so much we have to learn and it's your choice whether you open yourself up to this, or whether you shut down. Expose yourself to the words, thoughts and ideas of people outside of your circle. Realise that what you've grown up with might not be the only way to live, it might not be the only option. You don't have to agree with everything you read – but realising that there are many different views and ideas out there will make you a lot more accepting of yourself. As I said before – we are all a work in progress and it's okay to change your mind. It's okay to grow. No-one is perfect, or ever will be – going into the world with the attitude that you have so much more to learn. It's already a huge step in the right direction.
Let it all out – pour out your emotions
Journaling is such a great way to start on your journey towards inner peace. After all – how can you allow inner peace to fill you up, if you're already a mess of thoughts, ideas and worries. Facing your anxieties head on can be a huge help in moving towards a happier and more content version of yourself. I used to have so many ideas about how I should live my life. So many societal ideas of relationships, travel and work. It was the moment I cast off those shackles and decided to live the life I dreamed of, instead of the one I thought I "should" be living. That was when I found happiness. Whether you write these ideas down, or whether you scream into a pillow. Find your own way of expressing your emotions and releasing them.
TOP TIP: Try a journal prompt, or even write lists. Or just write stream of consciousness and blurt it all out on the page. You'll be amazed how small and manageable your worries seem when they're written on the page.
Minimise your life and practice gratitude
We're constantly surrounded by a sea of stuff. Every aspect of this capitalist society is pushing us to buy more, to each for more "things" in order to achieve happiness. The truth is – out of all my years of travel – one thing I've seen is that those with the least stuff are the happiest. We don't need the latest iPhone or laptop to be happy, that "it" dress isn't going to make you feel happy six months or a year down the line. Instead of reaching for things that give us that quick endorphin hit, we need to see beyond the immediate and look for longer-term joy. Finding inner peace comes from a lifestyle shift and realising that our value doesn't equate the stuff or the money that we have. Cutting back helps clear our minds and our lives, practicing gratitude makes us value what we do have.
TOP TIP: Each night before bed, think of three things you are grateful for. Let that be your last thought before you sleep.
Have you found inner peace? Where are you on your journey towards calm? What has helped you to reach your goals?