Jeffosophy: a collection of possibly useful things I have learned over the years.



Jeffrey hovering in meditative pose 

The Easy Want to Inner Peace

Are you feeling a bit stressed out? Finding it hard to relax? Do you get frustrated or angry easily? If so, you're not alone. Day to day life, work, children, family, friends' problems, the rising cost of living, Vladimir Putin and many other things can stress out even the strongest of us. Unfortunately, I won't be telling you how to solve these problems (at least not in this article). But, right now, I will tell you how to achieve, or at least get closer to, inner peace in spite of the chaos that may seem to surround you sometimes.

And maybe, just maybe, attaining inner peace will help you rationally tackle some of the things that make life stressful


What is inner peace?

Before I go any further, we should be clear on the definition of "inner peace". I define it s a feeling of contentment with yourself, your life and the world around you. It is a feeling that you are okay as you are and that's okay. It is a feeling of having made accomplishments in life and looking forward to making more. It is respecting others, even when you disagree with them.

Got it? Good! Now here are a dozen things you can do to increase you sense of inner peace.


1. Make a list of your achievements

Make a list of your proudest achievements and keep it to hand. Feeling good about yourself and what you have accomplished in life is a big step towards inner peace. When you feel down about yourself, take a look at the list and reflect on all you have accomplished. If you start to write down an achievement, and your inner voice tells you that it is no real achievement or nothing to be proud of, tell your inner voice to "shut up" and continue writing.

Once you've finished, I recommend you put the list somewhere where you will see it regularly. You could stick it to the fridge or frame it and put it on the wall of your workspace.

Review and edit the list from time to time.


2. Don't sweat what you haven't got

We live in a materialistic society in which we are constantly being hit with marketing messages trying to seduce us into buying this or that. When your neighbour or a friend comes home with a shiny new luxury car, it's hard not to feel a bit envious. When your friends and colleagues seem to wear nicer clothes, go on more exotic holidays and eat in pricier restaurants than you do -- and post pictures of it all on Facebook and Instagram --  it is only natural to wish that you could visit such places, eat such meals and wear such clothes yourself.

However, desiring things you have not got is a sure-fire path to inner frustration rather than inner peace. And buying things you cannot afford can create financial uncertainty which is not a path to inner peace either.

Instead, do not worry about what you have not got. Just don't. Your car may be old, but it's a good car with, far more importantly, an awesome owner. Your clothes may not be front cover of Elle magazine material, but the person wearing your clothes is awesome and looks really, really good in them!

Learn to feel pleased with all the things you have − and do not focus on material things. Think about your strengths, your family, your friends, your kids, your experiences, love, achievements, achievements by loved ones, praise and anything else that is yours.

And bear in mind that after death, no one is remembered for having owned a Mercedes Benz S series with all the options. Rather, people are remembered for their relationships; their contributions to their families, communities and societies; and who they are. The poor woman −who volunteers in an animal shelter, providing useful advice to people seeking pets − will be remembered far more fondly than the wealthy woman who always wore the most expensive clothes but never gave a penny to charity.

The mark you make on society, the effect you have on friends, the strength you give your family is far more important than the things you own. So don't sweat what you haven't got. Take pride in what you are and what you give. It is the first step on the road to inner peace.


3. Do not get into comments arguments

Do not waste your time on arguments on Twitter, Facebook, blogs or any other social media. You will not change anyone's mind. Instead, you will do three things. Firstly, you will boost the post so that more people see it. That's how most social media works. The more likes and comments a post has, the more the post is displayed. So, your comments give the contentious post more attention.

Secondly, you will further enrich the filthy rich owners and investors in social media. Contentious posts get attention, which causes more people to spend more time on social media and each click, comment or like that you do and encourage results in more income for social media.

Thirdly, your comment will provoke some idiot to make a counter-argument that will only infuriate you even more. This leads to anger and not inner peace.

If a post really irks you, do what I do: write a comment. Review it carefully. Edit it until it is perfect. And then delete it.

Doing this gets the comment out of your system and you get a feeling of satisfaction of having made the perfect comment without continuing an argument that will change no one's mind anyway. Try it next time you feel a need to comment on a social media post.


4. Learn from your mistakes, don't dwell on them

Do you find yourself dwelling upon your mistakes, wondering how you could have done something so stupid and wishing you could go back in time to change it? Well, you can't change it. But you can learn from it. So, when you screw up, acknowledge that you made a mistake, apologise if appropriate and ask yourself what you can learn from your mistake. To do this, ask yourself what you did wrong. Think about what you should have done (or not done). Consider what you can do if a similar situation happens again in the future. And ask yourself what you did right, because no matter how stupid your mistake was, it could have been worse, so you must have done something right.

In addition, work out whether or not you can rectify your mistake and, if it affects other people, do apologise. And then move on. Making a mistake is not foolish or stupid. It is human. Making the same mistake again and again, on the other hand suggests that you are not learning from your mistakes. Accepting your fallibility, learning from mistakes and becoming a better person for what you have learned, on the other hand, brings you closer to inner peace.


5. Take the blame with pride

If you do something wrong, do not try and hide it. Do not deny responsibility. Rather, take the blame for it with pride, not at your mistake, but in acknowledgement that you are a fallible human willing to accept responsibility for your actions.

Trying to hide your mistake or deny responsibility is only going to cause you anxiety. And, if you are found to be at fault later, you are going to appear dishonest to others. That's not what you want, is it?

Trying to make someone else appear responsible for your mistake is also going to cause you anxiety and, I hope, guilt feelings that will not bring you inner peace, but rather cause you inner torment. Getting caught blaming someone else for your actions will only make it worse.

Taking responsibility and blame for a mistake, especially a mistake that you know was your own fault, is frightening. But, you will find that once you have accepted the blame to those affected by your mistake, you will feel much better. You will discover that the world has not ended. Instead, you will most likely be respected for having the maturity, honour and integrity to accept blame for your actions.

If multiple people are responsible for a failure - such as a business project gone wrong - go ahead and be the first to take responsibility. It makes you look like a leader and being admired is always good for peace of mind.



6. Don't sweat the small stuff

As you make your way through life, things go wrong. I am sorry, but it cannot be helped. However, a lot of things that go wrong are little things. Don't worry about them.

A waiter is rude. Maybe he had a bad day. Don't take it personally. You lost a €2 coin in a vending machine? Don't kick the vending machine in frustration. Forget it. Move on. It's only money. In trying to fix a leaky pipe, you make the leak worse. Don't curse. Try again or acknowledge the need for expertise and call in a plumber. Someone cuts you off on the highway. Don't give him the finger. Forget about it.

These little things are trivial. Don't worry about them. Forget them (but learn from them) and push on. The less you have to worry about the greater your inner peace.


7. Appreciate and acknowledge friendships

Friends are great. Good, close friends are critical. Indeed, friendship is more about quality than quantity. I know people who boast of having lots of friends, but who lack close friends. I believe close friends are more important. I have three of them and we can talk about pretty much anything. Nevertheless, more distant friends are good too. They  often give you better feedback than close friends (who tend to be nice in their feedback, not because they are dishonest, but because they think highly of you) and introduce you to new things, people and ideas.

So, cultivate your friendships. Stay in touch with your buddies, be there when a friend needs you and don't be afraid to call on a friend when you are in need. That's what friends are for.

Moreover, acknowledge those friendships. Don't be afraid to tell a friend how important she is to you. Sure, you may feel you are making yourself vulnerable. But any decent friend will be complimented by your statement and share that you are also important to her.

If you don't have friends, then you need to find some and build new friendships. Not having friends is nothing to be ashamed of. Perhaps you are shy. Perhaps you have moved to a new town. Perhaps you have been bad at keeping up with friends. Perhaps a divorce has also affected your social life (this happens often). The reason does not matter. The important thing is to meet people and work on building friendships. You can do it!

A great way to meet people is through special interest groups, such as classes at local adult education centres, MeetUp Groups and Facebook groups that also include physical meetings. If you cannot find a special interest group that interests you, consider starting one yourself. I set up the Brussels Imagination Club with a friend some 15 years ago. Not only is it great fun to run, but I've made a number of friends through it.

Having friends and interacting with them is great for peace of mind and especially for when something is affecting your peace of mind and you need to talk about it.


8. Do stuff for others

Doing things for others is a proven way to make you feel good and feeling good is a great way to achieve peace of mind. Volunteer your time at a non-profit. Donate (money and time) to charities. Help out a neighbour. Look after a single parent's kids for the day. Treat a friend to a special day out. Look after an ill relative.

It does not matter what you do, but if you do things for others, you will find peace of mind comes your way.


9. Just do stuff

When you've got nothing to do, don't pick your smartphone. Do something.

Tackle one of those projects that you keep putting off. Once it is out of the way, it will be one less thing to worry about and that frees up space in your head. Visit a museum or art gallery. Go for a walk (see below). Call a friend. Cut the grass. Clean the windows. Plant some vegetables. It doesn't matter what you do so long as you do it. Actually doing stuff tends to make you feel good about yourself. It removes items from your to-do list and it gives you something to talk about with friends (see above).

You don't need to be super productive. Indeed, you do not want to overwork yourself. But, find little projects and tackle them.


10. Meditation

Many people find meditation to be a great way to relax and find peace of mind. Give it a try. It does not work for everyone. Indeed, traditional meditation does not do a lot for me. But, many friends swear by it. As I have not much experience with meditation, I won't even try to advise you. Instead, check the web for Buddhist temples or meditation centres near you. You can also find loads of information on the web.

My partner, Ira, uses an app that provides guided meditation. She finds it useful.


11. Walk

I've been a regular walker since at least my teenage years and a compulsive walker all my adult life. Indeed, rarely does a day go by that I do not get at least a 45 minute walk in; and on those days that I do not walk, I probably take a long bicycle ride or have a swim. Walking is good exercise - so it helps you stay healthy. In addition, walking is great for thinking. It boosts creativity, helps me think through problems and find solutions. If I am troubled by a problem, looking for ideas or need to make a decision, the first thing I usually do is take a walk. And I bring a pen and notebook with me so I can right down any inspirations I have.

I also meet up with friends for walks on a regular basis. Walking and talking with a friend has a different dynamic than sitting at a table or going out to a restaurant. It is not better or worse, just a different. You are moving rather than standing still. You do not look each other in the eyes as much as if you are sitting across from each other. And, especially if you are walking in nature or a place of beauty, you can share awesome views, interesting observations and inspirations that strike you on your walk.


12. Run, bicycle, swim, dance, work out, move

In addition to walking, get exercise in other ways, ideally ways that you enjoy. Go jogging, put on music that you like and dance. Go for a swim. Ride your bicycle rather than drive. Go to the gym. Stay active. All of these things help you stay in good health and a healthy body contributes to a healthy mind.


And you?

These have just been a dozen things that help me towards peace of mind. I learned most of them from friends and reading. A few, such as walking, I discovered myself. It is neither a comprehensive list nor are all my suggestions going to work for you. Nevertheless, try out my suggestions (if you are not doing them already) and keep doing whatever brings you peace of mind.

If you have a way of increasing peace of mind, please share it with me. I'd love to hear from you.





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