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Seven steps to Inner Peace
By Art Ramsay, Ph.D.

 Inner peace seems to be getting more attention in the past few years. Could it be from the mounting stress that people insist on bringing to their lives by working two or three jobs, or the perceived threat from alleged ‘terrorists’, or the failing world economies, or increasing genocide, or governments that put themselves ahead of the people they are supposed to be serving? Or all of the above and more?

 I don’t think it is any of the above. Why? Because fear, which is the opposite of peace, comes from within, not from without. What??!! Is this guy crazy? What kind of statement is that? Of course, all of the above causes us to tremble within and lead stressful lives.

 No they don’t, and here is why. All of the ‘threats’ pointed out in the first paragraph are only triggers for what lies within us. We all have beliefs gathered since childhood about how our lives and ‘the world’ should be. When something threatens our belief, stress increases while we try to defend it. Or we can just bolt and leave the situation acting out the “fight or flight” aspect of fear.

 A person at peace with him/herself and given the same scenario has within a solid foundation built on love, harmony, and gratitude. The response to the outer situation is very different. Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

 So how do we get to this place called ‘inner peace’? Notice that the first part of the phrase is the word ‘inner’. Before we can have peace outside of us we must have it inside of us. However, we cannot practice living from our past beliefs if we are to have peace in the present. There are a million scenarios I could to use to illustrate how you live your present moment from past beliefs, but that is not the purpose of this article.

 I have found that amongst the dozens, maybe hundreds, of reasons why someone lives in a world of stress and fear, seven stand out and are repeated by most people. They are given below.

  • Non-acceptance of people and situations
  • Taking things personally and projecting
  • Not taking personal responsibility for their lives
  • Complaining and judging
  • Living in discordance with others
  • Too many attachments
  • Ungrateful for their lives

 All of the above could be lumped into one reason we do them at all and that is low self worth. But that is way too deep for this article. I only want to point to steps we can start taking to get us to that place we call inner peace.

 

  1. be grateful – this may be the most powerful step you can take. Wake up being grateful; express gratitude for everything in your life, even those things you don’t like, for they are showing you something that needs work, throughout the day; go to bed being thankful for the great, or not so great, day you have just lived. Start out expressing gratitude for the easy things you are grateful for, but express it, say it over and over. It will work wonders.
  2. quit complaining and judging – this may be the hardest thing you can do, but once you conquer it, you are on the easy road to peace. Go to www.acomplaintfreeworld.org  and get yourself a bracelet. Wear it daily.
  3. begin to accept people and situations – accept people for who they are and what they do. Everyone is different and have their own perceptions about life. We can’t know why people do what they do. Just accept that that is the way it is, like it or not, and get on with your life. Learn to communicate better because poor communication with each other is a worldwide phenomenon that cripples relationships in every area of our lives. It not only leads to arguments, discontent, and violence, but to wars. But it is relatively easy to learn and has great rewards
  4. stop taking things personally – the most prevalent aspect of people relating to people I have noticed. You project on to someone a belief about what they are doing or said, and then think they are attacking you for some reason. As I said above, you cannot know what is going on in the mind of another person, so you project your own thoughts about it. Here is where forgiveness comes into use. And use it you must or you are lost.
  5. take responsibility for your life – perhaps one of the least understood of the seven. You create your life in every moment as you choose this action or that one. When you begin to understand that you are the one creating your life, you must take responsibility for the actions that do that creating; for the choices you make in every moment.
  6. .let go of attachments – we all have people and things that we are attached to; something we just have to hang on to no matter what. If you “can’t live without it or her/him” then it is an attachment that is sabotaging your life. Learn to let go of stuff, it will still be in your life, but not as an attachment. Also let go of attachments to outcomes; wanting something to be a certain way no matter what and going berserk when it isn’t.
  7. live in harmony with all of life – this would seem a fallout of some of the other steps; when you accept things for what they are, practice being grateful, stop complaining, don’t take things personally, take responsibility, let go of attachments, and communicate better, you might just be in harmony; well, almost. This step is often very subtle and may take a heightened awareness to see it. Living in harmony brings a sense that everything is flowing in accordance with every step, action, or choice you make.

 There you have them: seven steps that will bring you to peace. Choose one and work with it until you triumph over it or with it. Each one could take months or years, or a moment. You won’t know until you take a step and see where it leads. But one aspect is certain – if you don’t start and then persevere, stay with it no matter what, you will never get to peace; guaranteed.

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