According to the philosopher and mystic Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.”
As we approach Thanksgiving in the U.S., his wise words suggest a way not only to be grateful at this time of year, but also to create lasting inner peace in these frantic times.
Following are a dozen simple ways to achieve the inner peace you crave — which will help your bones as well, since less stress means lower levels of the bone-damaging stress hormone cortisol in your body.
1. Develop An Attitude Of Gratitude
We tend to take much of our lives for granted, so when something minor goes wrong, it can wreck our whole day. This is why being grateful for life’s necessities can make a big difference in your outlook.
For example, many people around the world do not have essentials such as a roof over their heads, food at every meal, warm clothing, and even shoes.
If your fundamental needs are being met, you can acknowledge this with an internal “thank you.” You may be surprised at how grateful simply being aware of your fortunate circumstances will make you feel.
Savers know that gratitude benefits us in many ways. It builds immunity, improves sleep and boosts bone health, because a calm, peaceful demeanor keeps cortisol levels in check.
As you cultivate an attitude of gratitude, you’ll begin to notice other small positives in your daily life. Gratitude builds on itself and will lead to a happier, calmer perspective, according to psychologists.1
Being grateful for the basics in your life — food, shelter, clothing, etc. — enriches your outlook and builds immunity, keeps your bones healthy, and leads to a happier life overall.
2. Learn To Relax
Gratitude arises from a sense of calm, so learning how to relax is vitally important.
Think about what activities bring you back to center. For some people, it’s a walk in nature. For others, it’s vigorous exercise. Some like to listen to contemplative music — or to rock ‘n’ roll. Others prefer sitting in deep silence.
Discover what works for you, and then create an abbreviated form to use in stressful situations. For example, if an hour-long walk in the woods really relaxes you, but you only have ten minutes before your meeting, go to the park across the street, or even to a tree outside, and imagine yourself in a vast forest. If you enjoy a strenuous workout, do a dozen jumping jacks or push-ups in the five minutes you have now.
Releasing whatever is bothering you will bring you back to inner peace quickly. And the more relaxed you are, the less bone damaging cortisol will be circulating in your body.2
Learning to relax is paramount to inner peace. Choose an activity, from exercise to music, to a nature walk, then create a shortened form you can use in a pinch to bring you back to calm. Knowing how to relax helps prevent excess levels of the stress hormone cortisol circulating in your blood.
3. Focus Your Mind
Inner peace is a mental exercise, so knowing how to control your thoughts will help you remain calm.
Do you tend to catastrophize? If so, paste these calming words from author Florence Scovel-Shinn on your mirror: “Why worry? It will probably never happen.” Scovel-Shinn’s landmark book, “The Game of Life And How to Play It,” first published in 1925, is still in print nearly a century later.
One of the best ways to focus your mind is to pay attention when a worrying thought enters. Is it related to something that is happening now? If not, release it. The past is gone, and the future has not yet happened. The present is all we have, and we can control what we think.
Nearly a century ago, author Florence Scovel-Shinn coined the valuable aphorism, “Why worry? It will probably never happen.” Chronic worry is a pointless exercise that accomplishes nothing. Instead, learn to focus your mind, and banish worrying thoughts as soon as they enter.
4. Organize And Declutter
Decluttering our lives helps declutter our minds. The more cluttered our desks, homes, and calendars are, the more stressed we typically feel.
If your home or workspace is cluttered, start small. Perhaps one desk drawer, closet, or counter in your kitchen needs to be cleared and cleaned. Once you’ve attended to this task, you’ll feel a sense of both accomplishment and relief.
As you start to organize and declutter, you will feel calmer and more focused — which reduces stress.3
Clutter creates stress because we feel we have no control over our lives. If you live in a cluttered home or work in a cluttered office, pick one small area to start, and declutter, clean, and organize the space. Decluttering will help you feel calm, focused and organized, all of which helps your mood and your bones.
5. Say Yes To What Is
One of the greatest challenges to creating inner peace is being dissatisfied with your present situation. If you can accept what is, while knowing you want to change it, you will be on the road to inner peace.
This step is similar to the “Why worry?” dictum. You can know you want a different job, for example, without allowing your current position to make you miserable. This attitude is also known as detachment. It means looking at what is true now with objectivity, so you don’t get drawn into the health- and bone-damaging effects of worry and stress.
The well-known Serenity Prayer, composed by theologian and professor Reinhold Niebuhr, has helped millions of people attain inner peace:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Accepting your current situation — even though you want to change it — is a positive step on the road to inner peace. The well-loved Serenity Prayer can help you on this journey: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change / Courage to change the things I can / And the wisdom to know the difference.”
6. Release And Let Go
Many people persist in holding on to grudges and old wounds, sometimes from decades ago, or even early childhood. Hanging on to negativity only harms you — as well as your bones — never the person about whom you may be harboring negative thoughts.
Let it go. Yes, this sounds easier said than done. Now that you know about “Why worry?” and saying yes to what is true at this moment, focus on releasing the past from your mind.
Something wonderful happens when you let go of a long-held resentment or anger: the negative feelings lose their power. Like decluttering, this release also frees up enormous mental energy so you can draw the new to you.
Holding on to old wounds and grudges only harms you. Release the past. When the past has no power over you, you’ll find you have a lot more mental energy and a desire for relaxation.
7. Pace Yourself
Be sure to pace yourself in this process of creating inner peace, so it doesn’t become one more item on your To-Do list!
Whether you’re working on releasing old resentments, finding new ways to relax, or beginning to declutter your home or office, take it slowly. One thing at a time.
This is not a race, but a redirection and that can (and should) take time.
You’re probably excited about discovering new ways to relax and create inner peace. Don’t turn this into one more item on your To-Do list. Change takes time, so make sure you pace yourself as you create new habits that promote inner peace and contentment.
8. Cultivate Kindness
The Dalai Lama has said, “My religion is kindness.” And of course, you’ve heard about “random acts of kindness” and paying it forward.
While it may seem easier (and tempting when you’re upset) to criticize someone who has hurt you, acting on such feelings will only damage your bones and your overall health.
The remedy? Focus your mind (and your heart) on love, and practice responding to hurt with kindness. No less important: consider treating yourself with kindness as one of those random acts. This will heal you, the other person, and the situation. You will be calmer and more at peace for treating others the way you would like to be treated.
Kindness is key to a happier life. When you’re tempted to lash out at someone who has hurt you, stop, focus, and respond with kindness. This action will heal you and cause a positive ripple effect with others.
9. Just Do It!
Procrastination eats away at inner peace. If something is weighing on you, it will not go away until you take action.
Decide to tackle this problem and resolve it. If it’s a large issue, break it down into smaller, manageable steps and get started ASAP. If it’s something simple but hard, such as making a dreaded phone call, promise yourself a reward for accomplishing the task.
One effective tool to help you problem-solve may surprise you: water. When you’re dehydrated, you can feel grumpy and out of sorts, perhaps even constipated. A glass of water can turn this around! Drinking enough water helps your nervous system, kidneys, and colon to function properly, all of which benefit your bones.4
So reach for a glass of water when you’re stuck on a thorny issue. Once you solve this problem, the tension you’ve been holding around it will evaporate.
Getting started is often the hardest part of change. Your procrastination may be due to dehydration. Drink more water and see if your mood improves. Once you take action you’ve been delaying, the tension from procrastinating will disappear.
10. Take A Well-Deserved Break
We may be quick to reward others — but not ourselves. Savers know how important balance is to good health, especially when it comes to our bones.
So give yourself a break, particularly if you’ve just done something difficult, such as resolving an issue that’s been troubling you for some time.
Listen to music, watch a humorous video, read a chapter of that book on your nightstand even though it’s the middle of the day.
Give yourself a break. Creating inner peace isn’t meant to be painful. Pick up an intriguing novel, listen to music, or just walk around a scenic park or beach. Any activity you enjoy is an excellent way to cultivate inner peace.
11. Become Comfortable With Silence
In our digital age, it can be hard to disconnect. We don’t want to miss anything, and life seems to rocket by at an increasingly rapid pace.
Yet silence is essential for good health. If you are uncomfortable being alone with yourself, or perhaps uncomfortable being with family members, turning on the TV provides a welcome distraction. However, distraction does not lead to inner peace.
This may be a challenging step for you, as it is for many people. Begin to practice being alone with your thoughts, even for just ten minutes. Notice what comes up for you.
You will gradually become able to be alone in silence for longer periods. Your mind — and your ears — will thank you. And your body will begin to truly relax.
It’s difficult to relax when you’re bombarded by stimuli. Many people feel uncomfortable with silence because they don’t want to hear their own thoughts. As you give yourself alone time in a quiet setting and face what you’re avoiding, you will begin to find the inner peace you seek.
12. Find Your Tribe
If you’re living outside the box — that is, embracing solutions that diverge from conventional wisdom — you are bound to experience criticism from people whose buttons you inadvertently push.
Do not allow their skepticism to affect you negatively. Chronic fear and worry elevate the stress hormone cortisol. Instead, you can overcome worry about your unconventional choices, primarily through the ideas presented here.
You will find, as your perspective shifts, so do the people in your life. Someone who thrives on drama will realize they can no longer engage you in their chaos, and will likely move on.
Seek out people who are more like the person you are becoming: serene, kind, supportive, grateful, and proactive. Being with those whom you aspire to emulate will go a long way towards helping you achieve and maintain inner peace.
Surround yourself with people who embody the serene, kind, grateful lifestyle you seek. It’s fine — even necessary – to part company with those who bring negativity and stress into your life. As you find and connect with your tribe of like-minded people, you will be joining with others on the path to lasting inner peace.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to begin creating a new outlook that embodies and expresses inner peace. By developing an attitude of gratitude, learning to relax, pacing yourself, accepting what is while taking action to create positive change, clearing clutter, and becoming comfortable being alone as well as with like-minded people, you will develop a sense of inner calm and happiness that can’t be shaken by external circumstances.
Most of all, remember to be kind — to yourself as well as to others — as you go through this process or creating greater inner peace.
Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all Savers who live in the U.S., and inner peace to all,
Vivian and The Save Institute Team
1 Wood, Alex M., Froh, Jeffrey J., and Geraghty, Adam W.A. “Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration.” Clinical Psychology Review. 30(2010) 890-905. Web. http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/alex.wood/gratitudereview.pdf
2 Furlan, Patricia M. et al. “The role of stress-induced cortisol in the relationship between depression and decreased bone mineral density.” Biological Psychiatry. March 10, 2005. Vol 57, issue 8, pages 911-917. Web. http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223%2804%2901376-9/abstract
3 Vartanian, Lenny R., Kernan, Kristin M., and Wansink, Brian. “Clutter, Chaos, and Overconsumption: The Role of Mind-Set in Stressful and Chaotic Food Environments.” Environment and Behavior. (2016): 1-9. PDF. http://www.weightwatchers.com/us/sites/default/files/chaos_and_cooking.pdf
4 Popkin, Barry M.; D’Anci, Kristen E.; and Rosenberg, Irwin H. “Water, Hydration and Health.” Nutrition Reviews. August 2010. 68(8): 439-458. Doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954