Inner peace is the key to true happiness. Fight me on that! Or just look at the most joyful people you know. I always think of a few specific men and women I have met. The peace they emanate is so powerful. I want that for myself.
But countless things in a day fill me with anxiety or frustration, and threaten my inner peace. I’m constantly trying to find the balance between being prudently concerned about the problems that come up in my day, while refusing to let those problems paralyze me or become the center of my thoughts and attention.
Here are some simple ways I’ve learned to cultivate my own peace. As with most things worth doing, they are simple in theory, but much more challenging to put into practice.
Do what’s in front of you with love for 10 minutes
Many times in my day, I am faced with tasks or moments I would prefer not to participate in. On a good day, I do what I need to do, but sometimes begrudgingly or with internal complaints. On a bad day, I put off what I know I need to do for another time, indulging my preferences and selfishness instead.
Join the dialogue
If we do what is in front of us, we are doing God’s will. As a way to work up to doing what is in front of you well, tell yourself you will work for 10 minutes on the task at hand with love. After that 10 minutes, you might just have the grace to work for another 10 minutes. But taking your day 10 minutes at a time, and trying to work each 10 minutes with love, is a great way to stay grounded in the present without letting worries about the future or regrets about the past wreak havoc on your peace.
In the book Carmelite Spirituality, Cardinal Arborelius describes succinctly what praying is: It’s joining the dialogue. What does that mean?
Praying is joining the Trinity’s ongoing conversation of love in your soul. You don’t have to do something big to start praying. You simply have to quiet your soul, and recognize the presence of the God who made you and loves you passionately. He’s already with you and ready to speak when you choose to step towards Him.
And if your day is full of times where you quiet your soul (even in the midst of business and chores and appointments) and remain present with Him, He can give you the peace you so desperately want and need.
Read Jacques Phillipe’s book, Searching for and Maintaining Inner Peace
This tiny book is chock full of wisdom for cultivating inner peace. Buy or borrow the book and read a little bit every day for a life-enhancing experience.
Stop cutting corners at your job
Whether your job is being gainfully employed in some capacity or taking care of people in your family, don’t continually choose the easy way out, the lazy way. Do what needs to be done, and be willing to go above and beyond. In focusing on doing the best you can in a given moment, your attention is focused on the only moment you’re guaranteed to have—the present.
Thank God for unexpected inconveniences instead of letting them upset you
When distractions come up in your day that keep you from what you want to do, or when your plans are interrupted, thank God for the chance to practice humility. That distraction might be a flat tire, an unexpected visitor, or a baby who refuses to nap. You thought your day was going to happen a certain way, but now you have to change course and navigate a different way—getting much less done than you had hoped.
Look at Him
Keep a reminder of who your life should revolve around. Put your favorite image of Jesus in your cubicle. Hold a rosary in your pocket. Place a small crucifix in your car. Throughout the day take a minute to look at Him, and use that opportunity to join the dialogue (see above). Give Him the current interpersonal and emotional work drama, and the internet not working, and the incompetent and inefficient customer service experience.