Updated: Oct 5, 2022
Inner peace is closely related to happiness. From Buddhist philosophy to Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, they have all been strong proponents of inner peace.
“The pursuit of inner peace is more important than the search for happiness or success.”
If you want to find inner peace and happiness, you have come to the right place. In this article, we explain the concept of peace (as well as inner peace), its relationship to happiness, and strategies to engage in which may result in an increase of one’s inner peace and happiness. Additionally, some practical mantras and useful quotes are noted as well.
What is Peace and Happiness in Life?
Peace is a word, which has multiple meanings. It is a word with several dimensions used in varying contexts. For instance, Anderson (2014) posited that peace can be used in macro as well as micro contexts.
Global peace (e.g., peace treaties between countries; the harmonious relationship between societies) is an example of macro context usage.
On the other hand, personal peace (e.g., interpersonal peace and inner peace) are examples of micro-context usages. In this article, we focus on the micro context of peace. More specifically, inner peace in particular.
The dominant meaning of “peace” in Western civilization is the absence of violence (Anderson, 2004). However, the concept of associating inner peace within an individual is rooted in non-Western languages, cultures, and religions (Anderson, 2004). Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, and Sanskrit have several words for peace.
In Sanskrit, words for peace also include Shanti and Chaina, which refers to an individual’s spiritual or inner peace and mental calmness (Anderson, 2004). Apart from a linguistic inquiry into peace, in some religions (e.g., Buddhism, Jainism, etc.), peace is used to underscore inner dimension (i.e., the person) more than the outer dimension (i.e., the environment) (Barua, 2014).
In general, peace of mind or inner peace refers to a deliberate state of either psychological or spiritual calmness despite the potential presence of stressors. It is a homeostatic psychological state, which results in the optimal functioning of the mind.
It has to be noted that given the complexity of the word – peace or inner peace, there is no general consensus with regards to its precise definition. Therefore, for the sake of clarity with regards to this article, we prescribe to the inner peace definition proposed by Ward (2010), Barua (2014) and Gogava, Poghosyan, and Aslanov (2018), which has also been employed in several works (e.g., Day, Casey, Ward, Howells, & Vess, 2013).
“Inner peace refers to a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of stress”
(Barua, 2014, p. 24).
Inner peace refers to
“a state of calm, serenity and tranquility of mind that arise due to having no sufferings or mental disturbances such as worry, anxiety, greed, desire, hatred, ill-will, delusion and/or other defilements”
(Gogava et al., 2018, p. 4).
“Inner peace refers to emotional self-regulation and the ability to achieve a state of dynamic emotional equilibrium and competence”
(Ward, 2010, p. 48).
Like peace, the word happiness is complex and subjective (for various definitions on happiness, see Kim-Prieto, Diener, Tamir, Scollon, & Diener, 2005 and Delle Fave et al., 2016). In fact, some scholars have even questioned the usefulness of happiness definition, equating it as a qualia concept (Wierzbicka, 2009).
For the sake of this article, we prescribe to the most popular definition that has been used by researchers from various fields (e.g., psychology and economists) (Delle Fave et al., 2016).
Happiness is typically associated with the concepts of life satisfaction and subjective wellbeing, which are a total score of cognitive and affective components of one’s mental state. Therefore, the following definition – happiness – refers to “to people’s evaluations of their lives – evaluations that are both affective and cognitive” (Diener, 2000, p. 34).
Peace and happiness are associated concepts (Cohrs, Christie, White, & Das, 2013). For instance, at the macro level, peaceful countries report a higher level of happiness in general. Likewise, a perusal of the definitions related to peace and happiness above makes their association quite clear. Some commonalities between these concepts include (Cohrs et al., 2013):
Peace and happiness concepts are related to positive psychology, which includes peace psychology as well.
Peace and happiness have been described as a positive human experience.
Peace is associated with terms such as serenity, harmony, happiness, and well-being.
Peace vs. Happiness: Is One More Important?
Given that peace and happiness are related concepts, the obvious question that arises in one’s mind – is one more important than the other? The answer to this simple question is more complicated than one might think. Scholars are not sure which one leads to the other.
That is, does peace lead to happiness? Or, conversely, does happiness lead to peace?
In other words, the causality is not clear. Perhaps, the best way to describe their relationship for the time being, lest empirical studies prove it otherwise is – there is a symbiotic relationship between these two concepts. To elucidate, both inner peace and happiness are associated with positive emotions (e.g., Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener 2005).
Therefore, experiencing positive emotions can lead to increment in one’s inner peace as well as happiness levels.
It is extremely likely that these two concepts are not mutually exclusive.
How to Find Inner Peace and Happiness?
There are several ways of enhancing one’s inner peace and happiness. Below, we list three simple ways to achieve inner peace and happiness goals. Please be advised that the following ways are by no means an exhaustive list.
Several experts and philosophical treatise have alluded to human’s interaction with nature in increasing one’s inner peace. For instance, Robert Puff, a contributor to Psychology Today noted two types of human-nature interactions that can lead to increment in one’s inner peace and happiness levels.
Nature in the short-term: Taking short walks outside on an everyday basis while abstaining from using one’s electronic devices.
Nature in the long-term: Taking nature retreats for a few days. These retreats give us an opportunity to avoid day-to-day stress (e.g., work commute, workplace pressure, etc.) and focus on our bodies and minds. Retreats come in several forms and shapes such as visiting national parks, religious and non-religious retreat centers, among others.
The above proposition has been corroborated by several research studies (for an overview, see Capaldi, Dopko, & Zelenski, 2014). For instance, in their meta-analytic study, Capaldi et al. found that the human-nature relationship is connected such that being connected to nature can potentially lead to happiness.
The health benefits of meditation have been well documented (e.g., Holzel et al., 2011). Examples of benefits include decrement in anxiety (Hofman, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010), reduction in cortisol levels (Carlson et al., 2007) and depression (Hofmann et al., 2010), among others.
In particular mindfulness meditation has been proposed to be a great way to enhance one’s well-being. Mindfulness refers to “nonjudgmental attention to experiences in the present moment” (Holzel et al., 2011, p. 538), which can be cultivated by meditation practices such as sitting meditation, walking meditation, or mindful movements.
Meditation enhances an individual’s attention regulation (i.e., decrease in being distracted), emotion regulation (e.g., accepting one’s emotional state), and change in one’s self-perception (i.e., detachment from identification with a static sense of self) (Holzel et al., 2011) that leads to experiencing more positive emotions associated with happiness and inner peace.
Being grateful for all that you have in life is one way to achieve inner peace and happiness.
Some scholars have even noted that happiness and gratefulness are one and the same. For example, the schematic hypothesis maintains that grateful individuals are more likely to notice positivity in life, and this influences their perception towards life events (Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010).
It has been found that grateful people are well aware of life-challenges but choose not to focus on it. Instead, they underscore on the interconnectedness of life and are less propelled to materialistic goals than the general population (Easterbrook, 2003).
How to practice gratitude or being grateful? One approach to boost an individual’s gratefulness is the deliberate practice of counting one’s blessings and another means is to keep gratitude journals (Lai & O’Carroll, 2012).
3 Mantras to Cultivate Inner Peace and Happiness
In Sanskrit, the word “mantra” translates to mind tools or instruments. Considered to be sacred and to have a powerful impact on reprogramming our subconscious mind. When repeated frequently, it purifies one’s mind and soul.
Typically, mantras are in Sanskrit, an ancient language, considered by several linguistic scholars as a language that reverberates with a microcosm of our bodies and the macrocosm of the universe based on the science of sound.
Below we list 3 powerful mantras, which can be practiced every day that will enhance one’s inner peace and happiness.
Mantra 1: Om Sarvesham Svastir Bhavatu (i.e., universal peace prayer)
Meaning: May there be happiness in all, May there be peace in all, May there be completeness in all, May there be a success in all.
Mantra 2: Om Namah Shivaya (i.e., I bow to Shiva), which when practiced in the form of meditation results in calmness and self-confidence.
Mantra 3: Om or Aum (i.e., the sound of the universe and the sound of creation), which when chanted during meditation leads individuals to self-realization, freedom, and enlightenment.
Source: Srikant Manchiraju, PhD. https://positivepsychology.com/inner-peace-happiness/
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