How to Find Inner Peace and Happiness – Practical Steps You Can Take Now!

Inner Peace and HappinessWriting an article on how to find inner peace and happiness is quite a challenge to take on! But, that really is what this website is about. As someone who suffered with major depression and low self-esteem for over 40 years, I want to help others find victory and live their best lives! My mission is to help people find inner peace and happiness!

Obviously, I won’t be able to exhaustively cover the topics of inner peace and happiness in one article. But, I can discuss several key changes that I made in my life that have helped me move from a generally sad, discouraged and depressive state to a state of well being, positivity and happiness most of the time. As I suggested in the article title, I will focus on actionable and practical steps you can start taking right now!

I will touch on a number of topics in this article, including understanding and getting control over your inner thought life, self-love and compassion, mirror work, reflective movement, meditation, gratitude, breathing exercises, and the process of taking charge of your mind and getting well.

The Typical Way We Approach our Inner World is Not Conducive to Inner Peace and Happiness

First, we will take a brief look at how most people approach their inner thought life, and how that approach makes it very difficult for most people to find inner happiness and peace. As you have probably heard before, the external circumstances that we experience in life do not make us happy or sad. No, it’s our reactions to them. Happiness or lack thereof comes from within – from our thoughts and mindset. Most people go through life somewhat on autopilot. We react to circumstances with our conditioned responses. This is based on our childhood programming and interpretations of our life experiences up to this point. This usually happens in the background of our minds without much conscious thought. So, at the most fundamental level, by default, we go through life having this unconscious inner dialogue with literally thousands of thoughts a day. And sadly for most people, this unconscious inner dialogue does not serve us well.

Frustrating ApproachSo, the problem is an inner thought life that does not serve us well. And, we are largely unaware of this inner world. Even if we are aware of some recurring negative thoughts, we don’t really know why they are there or how to change them. What is the first step towards finding inner peace and happiness? Self awareness – discover how and why you think the way you do. This does not come naturally and will take effort and discipline.

Understanding What and How You Think (Self Awareness) is the First Step in the Journey to Inner Peace and Happiness

Keeping a Journal Improves Self Awareness

I will tell you what has worked for me to increase my level of self awareness dramatically. First, I developed the habit of journalling every day. I set a simple rule for myself that I would journal at least one sentence every day so that I would not get overwhelmed with feeling like I had to write pages every day. My journal is a digital journal that is in the cloud. So, I can add to it on my phone or any computer. I have found that convenience is important! I also like to start every morning with a journal entry. If I wake up feeling anxious, I write out what is bothering me in detail. This helps me see more deeply into my thinking and it also acts as a therapy session to work through issues. I wrote more extensively about journalling in my Emotional Freedom Techniques article. So, check that out for more.

Observing Thoughts Without Judgment

The other habit I have developed for self awareness is the habit of observing my thoughts without judgment. This means that rather than getting upset with the way I am thinking, I approach it with an attitude of curiosity, almost like a third party observer. Of course, when you combine this with the journal, you get great insights into your thinking and tendencies. If you then study your journal over time, you really get to know yourself and are able to start making conscious changes to how you think in a variety of situations. You start to make more empowering choices.

A Personal Example on the Value of Self Awareness

Self AwarenessI would like to share an example of how increased self awareness has helped me reduce anxiety and find more inner peace. As I continued to write about what was bothering me or making me anxious in a given moment, I realized that there are many times that I conflate three or four different things that are causing me stress into one huge and unmanageable ball of stress. For example, if I am stressed about one part of my marriage, a part of my career, and this other part of my finances all at the same time, it is overwhelming. But, if I take the time to break the anxiety down into the three individual parts and figure out the best approach to each of them, including mindset and action, I have now made the situation manageable!

How You Talk To Yourself is EVERYTHING on the Journey to Inner Peace and Happiness

Self-Love and Compassion is SO Important

Next, lets talk about the broad topic of self-love and compassion toward yourself. I have a number of suggestions to help you make progress in this. But first, I want to emphasize how important this is. Love is a continuum. When you love yourself more, you will love others more. When you are compassionate toward yourself, you are compassionate toward others. When you learn to love yourself, you will more naturally start to think positive and supportive thoughts toward yourself and the various areas of your life. It’s really hard to over-estimate the importance of loving yourself! I wrote more about self-love and compassion in my Emotional Freedom Techniques article.

Affirmations and Mirror Work

How do we love ourselves better? As I became really attentive to my inner thoughts, I realized how unkind I was being to myself. Really, I was my own worst enemy. This was incredibly destructive in my life. One of the things I started doing consistently every morning is to look in the mirror and tell myself over and over again how much I love myself and that I am worthy of all good things. It was definitely awkward at first. But over time, it became a habit and I started to believe it.

Affirmations and positive thinkingOne of the things that I realized about myself as I started to move from hating myself to genuinely loving myself is that I had spent most of my life trying to please other people. Because I had no self-esteem, I sought validation from others. All of us have things we long to hear from others. Our heart yearns for love and acceptance. What I discovered is that I could speak the words that my heart longed to hear to myself! It’s incredible how powerful it is when you realize that you can be your own best friend and validate yourself! This changed my life dramatically for the better.

So, try the mirror work. Try noticing supportive or self-loathing thoughts and consciously replace them with loving and empowering thoughts. Stick with it. Push through the awkwardness and doubt. It will become a habit and it will change everything! I list some great affirmations in my Dr. Wayne Dyer Quotes article.

Affirmation Index Cards

Another thing that has really helped with motivation, focus and self-esteem is creating a stack of index cards with affirmations and goals on them. So, I focus on self-worth, who I want to become, and goals I want to accomplish. Then, I pull them out as needed for motivation and encouragement.

The Dark Side – Embracing Negativity and Using it For Your Good

This one may come as a surprise to you, but hear me out. One of the traps I see “positive thinking” people fall into is the internal pressure they put on themselves to be positive all the time. This leads to denying their true feelings in an effort to be this perfectly positive person. However, I have found that true self-love can only exist when you are completely honest with yourself. I have learned the importance of being compassionate with myself and loving myself in the weakness and negativity that is part of being human. Allow yourself to be human and imperfect! Love yourself even in the midst of facing the things about yourself that you hope no one ever finds out about!

What are You Doing RIGHT?

It’s so easy to see what your are doing wrong and focus on that. Try asking yourself “What am I doing right?” Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for progress. I guarantee you are doing something right! I ask myself that question from time to time and journal my response.

Gratitude is Key to Inner Peace and Happiness!

gratitudeThe next habit I want to touch on that will help you find more inner peace and happiness is gratitude. I know this one is talked about a lot, but it is critical. I practice gratitude when I am feeling down or when I am upset with someone I love or upset with a situation that didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. One great general gratitude habit is to make a list of ten or so things that you are grateful for in your life and review it often – whenever you find yourself looking at the negative side of life instead of the positive. If you are upset with someone you love, think of some things that you really love and appreciate about them.

As the old saying goes, what you appreciate appreciates. I have also noticed that gratitude really improves your relationships. If you focus on what you appreciate about someone, they tend to respond positively. When we are critical of others, they tend to get discouraged and live down to your expectations.

Meditation and Breathing Exercises for Inner Peace and Happiness

Obviously, a lot has been written about meditation. It’s a very popular topic. The big thing I want to emphasize here is that using meditation to quiet your mind is very beneficial. We are not going straight to a deep spiritual practice here (Although this is a worthwhile goal!). Start out slow and build a habit of giving your mind some time for peace and quiet. Keep it simple. Try taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on your breath for five or ten minutes once or twice a day. Also, you don’t have to try to get into a spiritual position. Just find a comfortable position, sitting or laying down.

meditationI have found that taking slow, deep breaths as needed throughout out the day is a great breathing exercise for stress. So, if I am anxious or upset, I start breathing slowly and deeply for a couple of minutes. Meditation and breathing exercises help me manage stress, anxiety or sadness throughout the day.

You can check out a meditation and breathing exercise demonstration by Lady Gaga in my Celebrities with Depression – Lady Gaga article. There are two great videos in that article.

I also want to point out an article I did on Brainwave Entrainment technologies. In brief, you can use brainwave entrainment audio technologies to help get your mind into various meditative and relaxing states. I have used this technology for years and still use it every day as a part of my meditation time.

Reflective Movement Helps Bring Peace and Clarity

What is reflective movement? Reflective movement is combining physical exercise, breathing exercises and contemplation into one practice. The way I do it is I take a brisk walk around my neighborhood or wherever is convenient. I breathe deeply and slowly. Depending on the purpose I have in mind, I either contemplate an issue or issues in my life, or I just quiet my mind and enjoy the walk with gratitude. This promotes creativity, peace and happiness. Obviously, exercise really helps with your mood. Walking can also help bring clarity to whatever you are thinking about. And, the deep, slow breathing with the walking promotes emotional peace. I do this all the time and consider it an important part of my routine for inner peace and happiness.

Conclusion

In this article, I discussed a number of topics, including understanding and getting control over your inner thought life, self-love and compassion, mirror work, reflective movement, meditation, gratitude, and breathing exercises. In conclusion, I want to talk a little about the process of taking charge of your mind and getting well. I want you to understand that at first, when you try to make major changes to your way of thinking, you will face significant resistance. I want you to understand what’s going on so that you can expect it and work through it.

subconscious mindYou’ve been thinking a certain way for probably decades and you want to change. Your subconscious mind is thinking “I don’t understand this completely foreign way of thinking. I don’t want to change. Are you sure you want to do this?” So, at first, you are fighting the momentum of your subconscious mind. There is a period of time where you have to persevere and show your subconscious that you are serious. Gradually, over time, your mind sees that you are serious and that things are going to be different. Eventually, you get to the point where your subconscious mind is fully recruited as your ally. Then, was a cycle of perseverance and frustration becomes a virtuous cycle. It gets easier. So keep at it.

If you have any thoughts or questions on how to find inner peace and happiness, please leave a comment or question below. I would love to interact with you and help however I can. Also, you may have a point that I missed, in which case, I will edit the article to reflect new information.

All the best!

Mark

 

 

 

Emotional Freedom Techniques

Emotional FreedomAs someone who has struggled with major depression and anxiety, I have researched and tried many emotional freedom techniques over the years. I can honestly say that I have found a peace, joy and happiness in my daily life that I could have only dreamed of years ago. So, my hope is that this article is helpful in pointing you in the right direction with some ideas for your own emotional freedom! These are what I would consider foundations and essential practices to get you moving in the right direction. Please comment below if you would like to connect and discuss this further.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

You may have come here looking for more information on the Emotional Freedom Technique and other Energy Psychology topics specifically. If that is the case, I would suggest checking out a free resource to introduce you to EFT. It’s a 60-page book called the EFT Mini-Manual (Affiliate Link).

Finding Emotional Freedom in Your Journal

JournalOK, before you say “I’ve heard that before, it’s never going to happen!”, hear me out. I have learned to be my own therapist and work through emotional challenges in real time by writing my thoughts down in a journal. In fact, I have made an entry in my journal every single day for as long as I can remember. First, here are some foundations tips to make this work for you:

The first secret is to not overwhelm yourself with keeping a journal

My only rule is – write at least 1 sentence every day. That’s it. This gets you in the habit of writing and gives you a habit to build on. Some days a lot, some days a little.  All based on what you feel like doing that day!

Make writing in your journal as convenient as possible

I like to use an electronic journal that stores everything in the cloud. (Like Microsoft One Note or Evernote). This way, if I am out and have a thought that I want to write down, I open the app on my phone and start writing. I just add to it whenever I want from my desktop or laptop.

Use your journal as a tool to help you know yourself better

Develop your own way of highlighting important things that you want to return to later. For example, when I have an insight I don’t want to forget, I put ## in front of it. Then, about once a month, I do a search through the document for ## and read the insights. You would be amazed at how many insights you had and forgot. This has been CRITICALLY important to my ongoing emotional freedom and spiritual growth. You can also develop other symbol combinations to help you track specific things in the same way.

What to write in your journal and how to use it

Now that we have some basic technology and organization down, let’s talk about what to put in your journal and how to use it:Find Peace

  1. This is for your eyes only. So, be completely honest with yourself. Don’t write what you are “supposed” to be. Write reality, no matter how ugly it is. Write out as many thoughts as you can. Over time, you will see thought patterns that your aren’t currently aware of and that are not serving you at all! I have become so much more self-aware by doing this.
  2. If you are particularly sad or anxious or afraid, take the time to write out exactly why you are feeling that way. First of all, it helps to process the emotions. But, it also helps to separate issues that may be jumbled together in your mind. For example, I woke up anxious a while back. When I started writing about it, I realized that there were four separate issues bothering me. I could have never sorted that out in my head without writing it down. So, I wrote down the best mindset that I could have for each one and got a better handle on the situation! Sometimes, when you have several things stressing you out at the same time, they just get conflated into this giant ball of stress and overwhelm. Your conscious mind can only handle a decision or two at a time.
  3. Observe your thoughts and write down what you notice. Are you kind to yourself in your thoughts or are you your own worst enemy. I’ll talk more about this in the next section. One of the biggest changes in my life has been going from my own worst enemy and critic to my best friend. Observing and writing down my thoughts helped me to realize how bad the situation was and to change it.
  4. Take time to periodically review your journal. It’s a great way to get to really know yourself. Self awareness is so important. I have learned so much about myself by doing this. And it has allowed me to better look at my life as an observer and look at myself more objectively.

Finding Emotional Freedom Through Loving Yourself

OK, that heading may sound a bit strange or trite. But again, hear me out. When I was discussing my journal above, I mentioned the importance of observing your thoughts and writing them down. I realized through this process just how bad my self-esteem really was. Not only that, I was able to see destructive behavior patterns in myself that I never noticed before. My self-esteem was so bad, that I spent most of my life making decisions based on trying to please other people. By first observing my thoughts, and then replacing them with better ones, I was able to be kind and compassionate with myself. My self-esteem improved. I started validating myself and making decisions that were best for me! It changed everything.

Make a habit of being kind to yourself in your inner dialogue

When you first really take the time to observe your thoughts, it can be overwhelming. You might find it quite ugly inside your head, as I did. Try to approach it as a detached observer at first. Observe out of curiosity. Then, realize that you have a choice over your thoughts. You can start by recognizing that a thought is not empowering to you and replace it with something that is. It will be awkward at first. You will find resistance at first. But if you keep at it, you will change your inner dialogue completely over time. And that will change EVERYTHING!

A continuum of love and compassion

Seeking Human Kindness

When you stop judging yourself and start loving yourself unconditionally, something interesting starts to happen. You also become more loving and compassionate toward others, because you realize that they have wounds and struggles just like you. So, it becomes this beautiful love that permeates every aspect of your life! And, you will start feeling better. Because, love is the highest thought and love feels good! We all need human kindness. Start with yourself!!

Emotional Freedom Through Meditation

Obviously, meditation is a very popular topic these days, and for good reason. For the purpose of this article, I want to keep it simple. It is helpful to your emotional well being to quiet your mind and body. Try sitting in a comfortable position and taking slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breath and keep your body still. Stay with it and accept where your mind is at as you try to quiet it and relax. You don’t have to be a guru that can be still for hours. Start with 5 minutes a day and build on it to your liking. Over time, quieting your mind and body and taking the deep breaths will help you become more emotionally resilient and peaceful.

Conclusion

I hope this article has been helpful to you and that you will be able to find more emotional freedom in your life through the emotional freedom techniques I discussed. I briefly mentioned the Emotional Freedom Technique and suggested that you check out the 60-page book called the EFT Mini-Manual (Affiliate Link). Next, I discussed the importance of journalling. I know of no other way to better get to know yourself and to see yourself accurately (and then start to make changes that empower you). Next, I talked about the importance of monitoring and changing your internal dialogue to treat yourself with love and compassion. I also briefly mentioned meditation. If you would like to explore changing your thoughts to be more positive and loving, I recommend reading Dr. Wayne Dyer. Here are 3 of his books that are worthwhile (Amazon Affiliate Links):

The Essential Wayne Dyer Collection

Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

Your Erroneous Zones: Step-by-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life

Mark

Go Top