Learn more about what inner peace is and how to find inner peace in your life.
My friend Steve had always liked his group of friends. He met them in college and had fond memories from their – well, let’s call them their “rowdy” years. In the first few years since college, Steve met up with them regularly, and it didn’t take long for the group to fall back into their fun, old patterns.
During this period of young adulthood, Steve also underwent a period of self-discovery. He found a job he loved, fell into a new group of friends, entered a serious relationship, and adopted new beliefs on life. As the years since college went by, his life began to change more and more as it took on a new direction.
Steve also began to feel less and less excited about seeing his college friends. When he did see them, he often felt uncomfortable with the conversations they were having. He left their shared time feeling more conflicted than content.
Eventually, Steve had to face the truth. His college friends no longer aligned with what he valued. And while he could enjoy the shared nostalgia of the past, he didn’t feel right with their decisions and conversations in the present. He had to make different choices if he wanted to feel more at peace with himself.
You may or may not relate to Steve’s changing friendships, but we all can understand inner conflict. Those moments when we don’t feel right about what we’re doing or who we’re around.
Those moments, friends, are when you lack inner peace. And this article will tell you how to find inner peace (and happiness) in your life.
What is Inner Peace? Inner Peace Meaning
We’ve all probably heard of the term “Inner peace,” but that doesn’t mean we can define it. Inner peace can be a tricky concept to grasp. In this case, sometimes it’s easier to define it first by what it’s not.
When we lack inner peace, we often experience inner conflict and turmoil. We struggle with negative emotions and thinking patterns. If we’re unable to achieve inner peace, we may:
- Approach change from a place of fear and anxiety
- Ruminate over our choices in an unhealthy way
- Feel like our actions don’t align with our values
- Feel inauthentic or ingenuine in what we do or say
- Prioritize relationships that deplete our energy rather than build it up
- Focus on what we lack more than on what we have
- Find that stress dominates much of our emotional and mental capacity
Imagine a lack of inner peace as someone sprinting desperately on a concrete track. (And I’m not talking about people who enjoy running like marathon runners. (sidenote: we should never, ever compare ourselves to marathon runners)). In our example, it’s scorching out, the person is dangerously dehydrated, and their body is screaming for them to stop.
But they don’t stop running. Because Stress Monsters like “Fear” and “Shame” are chasing them. If they stop, they worry these monsters will consume them.
And so they keep running in loops, torturing themselves in the process. Unfortunately, they also lack the self-awareness to realize it.
Most people lack self-awareness, including you. Take this free self-awareness test to determine if you lack self-awareness. Being self-aware is the first step in how to find inner peace.
Inner Peace Definition: How to Find Inner Peace
Finding inner peace is like taking this desperate, pain-filled person from a sprint to a casual walk. The monsters are gone, so the person can choose to go at whatever pace they want. They can casually stroll through a nice park, appreciating the scenery around them as they sip from an ever-full water bottle.
Occasionally, a Stress Monster pops up in the brush. But instead of running away, the person has the time and energy to chat with the monster about what needs to be done. The person is relaxed – no sweat. (Literally, no sweat compared to the person running in the desert.)
Sounds better, right?
Inner peace is someone’s ability to feel “at peace” with their lives and decisions. Rather than living in a state of heightened stress and anxiety, they live in a much calmer state. They can face life and all of its challenges from a state of peacefulness.
This peacefulness doesn’t need to be permanent calmness or silence, either. Inner peace opens us up to excitement and vibrancy in our lives. It’s in the peacefulness that we can find the room to become most alive.
Finding inner peace isn’t easy for any of us. When you consider your life and mental state, I want you to ask yourself:
- How often do you feel like the desperate, pain-filled person trying to outrun Stress Monsters?
- How often do you feel like the person taking a relaxed stroll through the park, able to chat with stress when it presents itself?
As you contemplate your answer, you must keep in mind the next thing you’re going to read.
Scott Stabile: Love’s Role in Finding Inner Peace
Scott Stabile is a famous author, activist, and inspirational speaker. Perhaps a more accurate label, however, is that he’s a leader for love.
Scott didn’t plan to end up where he is now. In fact, the origin of his work took on a life of its own. Years ago, he began to post inspirational messages on a Facebook page. A few people followed him, and then a few more, and then many more – until he had a community of hundreds of thousands of people.
And they all came looking for how to find inner peace and happiness.
I had the great privilege of talking with Scott about love, inner peace, and self-awareness (among many other beautiful topics). I came away inspired and eager to share.
Finding Peace of Mind Means Silencing Our Shame
Scott and I talked all about joy, excitement, and possibility. But for him, it always came back to how to find inner peace.
“If I had to choose any sensation – and thankfully we don’t – but if I did, I would choose inner peace,” he said. It’s something I longed for more than anything else. If I’m able to have a base of peace with whatever is going on, then that feels really good.”
Scott breaks down his experience of inner peace as:
- Feeling inner peace with whatever is going on in his life
- Feeling inner peace with whatever is going on in the world
- Being able to bring a state of peacefulness to his experiences
- Accepting what he can give energy to and what won’t serve him
And what was Scott’s answer for how to achieve inner peace?
Live a life driven by love. And this love needs to be founded in love we must show ourselves, including letting go of our self-shaming habits.
“When you say that somebody should make inner peace a priority, our minds and egos naturally shame ourselves,” he explains. “We shame ourselves for not being able to make it a priority, or we shame ourselves for making it a priority but still not feeling as peaceful as often as we think we should. We turn this very positive thing with tons of possibilities into one more reason to feel bad about ourselves. And this doesn’t serve us in any way.”
As you contemplate finding inner peace in your life, you must work to eliminate the instinct to shame yourself in the process. Instead, find ways to allow yourself the room to feel. Fighting against judgment is essential in how to find inner peace.
Allowing versus Resisting: The Choices We Make
Growing up near my cousins was the favorite part of my childhood. Yet I’ll never be able to recreate that for my adulthood or my future kids.
All of my parents’ siblings stayed in the same town, and two of my aunts lived within five minutes of me. Which meant that my cousins – all around my age – practically lived in each other’s houses.
However, as we all graduated college and looked for jobs, our locations began to change. My older cousin moved to the west coast, and then my brother did. I moved six hours away, but at least I could see my closest cousin when I drove home. Until she also moved to the west coast.
As I watched my fantasy childhood change, I had a choice to make. I could attempt to convince my cousins against moving, lament their choices, and moan about the flights and money it would now take me to visit them. (In other words, resist the changes life threw at me.)
Or I could accept them. I could allow life as it comes.
Allowing versus Resisting: Finding Inner Calm
When we allow life as it is rather than resist it, we help maintain inner peace.
Scott talked about the difference between allowing versus resistance in terms of our energy. This distinction is crucial for how to find inner peace.
“When I feel like I am allowing life as it is, it creates a certain peace and also energy within me,” he says. “When we come from a place of resistance, and we fight against what is, we deplete our energy.”
He acknowledges the privilege that some people have and the severity of challenges that some people face. Not everything can simply be “accepted for what is.” However, when we look at our day-to-day, we need to discern if we’re coming from a place of allowance or resistance.
For the example with my cousins, resisting the changes would’ve only depleted my energy. However, allowing life not only saved my energy; it also made room for me to embrace them with excitement. My cousins’ moves opened up my life to new and exciting travel opportunities and west coast experiences. By adopting an allowance mindset, I can see these opportunities.
Finding Inner Peace comes with Allowing and Choices
Every single day we’re faced with choices to allow or resist life. Developing our self-awareness will help us identify when and where we have choices. Then, we can practice an allowance mindset.
Here are some examples of allowing versus resisting:
- You get a flat tire. Nobody wants to get a flat tire, but how you respond will drastically change the experience. Do you complain about it and how it ruined your day? Or do you take it in stride, allowing what is on your way to problem-solving?
- You see a leadership change at your work. Anytime there’s change, we’re faced with the uncertainty of not knowing what will come next. Are you resistant to the change, putting your emotional energy toward wishing things would go back to normal? Or do you embrace the change as a new opportunity for growth and possibility?
- Your plans get canceled or changed at the last minute. Everything that you were happily accepting goes out the window. Do you greet the change with anger, sadness, or frustration? Or do you allow the change to open up new possibilities?
Ultimately, allowing creates more opportunity in our life for possibility and excitement.
As Scott said, “When I can put aside that resistance and just surrender to what is, I have more natural energy to create positive change in my life.”
8 Ways to Find Inner Peace and Happiness in Your Life
Finding inner peace is not one change, but instead a dedication to important habits. From my conversation with Scott, I took away seven key ways to find inner peace. Remember, don’t shame yourself if you can’t do everything perfectly. As you learn and practice these seven strategies, show yourself patience and compassion along the way.
Align your choices with your values
Aligning your choices and values is crucial in finding inner peace. We feel the most turmoil when we’re doing something that doesn’t feel “right” or “like us.” Instead, when we can ground our decision-making in what we believe in, we’ll naturally feel better about life. This rings true for both little, everyday choices and big, life-changing decisions. The more steadfast you are in our values, and the more practice you have living your values, the more inner peace you’ll feel.
- 5 Simple Steps to Discover Your Core Values
- 5 Reasons Knowing Your Core Values will Change Your Life
Get in touch with your emotions
To seek this alignment, you’ve got to identify what our values are (and how they make us feel). According to Scott, asking “How am I feeling?” is one of the most important and frequent questions we can ask. Emotions are incredibly complicated (and ever-changing), which is why it’s so important to get in touch with your feelings. Eventually, this self-awareness will help give you vital insight about your life.
- 20 Self-Awareness Activities for Emotional Intelligence
- 5 Sure-Fire Questions to Identify Emotional Patterns
Discover your authentic self and how to embrace it in your life
As your self-awareness grows, you can become more confident in your authentic self. However, this is a discovery process – and it’s never-ending. What’s more, many of us are afraid to share our authentic selves when we discover them. You must summon the courage to be vulnerable, embrace who you are, and share it with the world.
- How to Be True to Yourself: The Hidden Truth We Need to Embrace
- Make Time for Authenticity: An Interview with Author Lynda Schmidt
Come from a mindset of allowance instead of resistance
As much as we desire and seek out control, the majority of life is out of our hands. What we can control is how we approach life and all of the curveballs it throws us. You’ll find inner peace sooner if you adopt a mindset of allowance rather than resistance. Not only will you save yourself a lot of emotional energy, but you’ll also be more open to possibilities.
Be selective with your time and relationships
Knowing our values and authentic self is one thing; living them is another. Many of us feel guilty or trapped by the expectations of others. Additionally, it’s easy for us to get sucked into media, negativity, or social pressures. You must be selective with your time and relationships. You’ve got to prioritize the people and activities that fill you up rather than break you down.
Fight against your inner critic and shame response
The journey to achieving inner peace and happiness isn’t easy. Along the way, shame will inevitably rear its ugly head. Our emotional brain (rooted in evolutionary survival instincts) likes to drive our thinking. Because of its foundation, you can’t fully control your emotions. However, you can develop our management of them. Finding inner peace is dependent on your ability to fight against your inner critic. In doing so, you prevent shame from dictating our life.
Prioritize inner peace and joy
This step might sound obvious, but it’s a step to finding inner peace that many of us don’t do. To achieve inner peace, you’ve got to make it a priority in our lives. As Scott said, “If we make it a priority and we start paying attention throughout our day, there’s no way it won’t start showing up more in your life.” Prioritizing inner peace includes giving it the mental, emotional, and literal time and space it deserves. Look for where you can make more choices with inner peace as the driving goal.
Practice self-love and compassion
Throughout it all, love should be the driving force. You’re worthy of love simply for the fact that you are – and that includes loving yourself. Humans lack self-awareness, face innate biases, and struggle with complicated emotions. You’re not alone in these struggles, nor should you shame yourself for them. The more you can approach everything from a place of compassion, the more you can center your life around what’s important. Don’t be afraid to breathe, go to your happy place, and prioritize self-care.
Role of Self-Awareness in Finding Inner Peace
Throughout our conversation, Scott brought up, again and again, the importance of alignment. Finding inner peace – and all of the good feelings that come with it – depends on our ability to align everything: our actions, thoughts, choices, relationships, time, values, and priorities. How do we know if everything is aligned correctly?
- How am I feeling?
- Does this feel right to me?
- Is this what I want to be doing?
And then, we give ourselves space and time to listen to the answers.
Not surprisingly, being able to identify all of these elements comes back to our self-awareness. This is why it’s so crucial to learn how to be self-aware in your everyday life.
Want to learn more about how to live a self-aware life? Subscribe with your email below and you’ll get my free Ebook The Art of Being Self-aware, as well as a weekly newsletter with questions and ideas. Don’t worry, I won’t spam you, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
More on Scott Stabile
To learn more about Scott Stabile, you can check out his website, Facebook community, or new podcast. I also highly recommend his book Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart. In it, Scott writes about his life, struggles, and growth along the way (all with a flare of humor, I might add). The book inspired me to live more vulnerable and authentically in my life.
Quotes by Scott Stabile
“Let them judge you. Let them misunderstand you. Let them gossip about you. Their opinions aren’t your problem. You stay kind, committed to love, and free in your authenticity. No matter what they do or say, don’t you dare doubt your worth or the beauty of your truth. Just keep on shining like you do.” ― Scott Stabile
“Open hearts can unite in ways even the most open minds cannot imagine.”― Scott Stabile
“Many of us have gotten so used to playing to the expectations of society, of our families, of our friends, and of our minds, that we don’t even allow ourselves to consider who we really are or what we really need. We ignore the calls of our hearts, giving our lives, instead, to the demands of an outside world built on fitting in. We can stop this, right now. We can choose to listen to ourselves, to heed our deepest callings, whatever they are. We can give ourselves the freedom to be whoever the hell we want to be in this world. Right now, if we choose to. And why wouldn’t we?” ― Scott Stabile
“I’m afraid of plenty in our world. Heartbroken over much more. Yet I know it’s possible, still, to be at peace, even to be content, at least some of the time. Not because the world suddenly becomes safe and united, or that I suddenly become unafraid, but because I know the peace that lives within me, at my core, is a peace that can never be touched by anything going on in our world, or in my head. That peace is not something I’ve developed or earned. It’s always been there, and will always be there. A birthright. It’s beyond our world, beyond my fears. It’s my home, whenever I want to visit. Just as your inner peace is your home, too.” ― Scott Stabile
“Our peace and happiness ultimately depends on nothing but our willingness to be present within them, and to understand that the world around us will always be crazy and violent and overwhelming and beautiful and exciting and boring and united and divided and whatever else it is, and we can still be healthy and okay within it all—not because of the outside world, but in spite of it.” ― Scott Stabile
Inner Peace Quotes
“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
“If you are depressed you are living in the past if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” —Lao Tzu
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” —John F. Kennedy
“This is my secret. I don’t mind what happens.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti