Who needs it?
What I needed was 30 hours a day and 8 days a week. Then I’d have the time to feel peaceful.
Otherwise, I had too much to do. I couldn’t afford to zone out when I needed to stay focused and on top of my game.
I used to believe that inner peace was for monks, retirees and yoga teachers. Certainly not for ordinary people like me.
Then the research started coming in.
The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology sums up the findings:
Both psychological and medical research demonstrates an important relationship between inner peace and physical health.” 
If you want to be healthy, you’ve got to be peaceful. Or at least make the effort.
It’s kind of obvious that getting angry and stressed doesn’t do the body any good. But not everyone has the time or inclination to take a yoga class, go for a walk in nature, or color inside the lines of one of those faddy adult coloring books. I’d smelled enough crayons as a kid; I wasn’t about to take that up again.
But there came a point when I’d had enough.
I was fed up.
Fed up of being worried all the time. Fed up of my brain refusing to turn off. Fed up of finding it impossible to relax. Fed up of wearing myself out.
Maybe what I needed was inner peace. Maybe inner peace would make me happier than finishing my to-do list.
I didn’t know. But I was going to try.
I knew I was never going to be a natural. The very idea of inner peace came into conflict with another one of my favorite hobbies:
I grew up in a family that worried. The more something mattered to you, the more you worried. The more you worried, the more you felt in control. And wasn’t that sense of control worth it?
Maybe the outcome was out of your hands, but at least you were doing something. Maybe you could even exert a little metaphysical pressure with your worrying. After all, studies show that prayer really works. Well, then, why not worrying?
To date, I’ve yet to find research proving that worrying creates a more positive outcome. Research can be annoying like that. What’s the point if it doesn’t tell you what you want to hear?
Instead, researchers just give us more to worry about. Chronic stress (such as that caused by worrying) shortens the protective casing on the ends of strands of DNA. As that protective casing wears away, the aging process speeds up.
You get the picture.
Stress makes you old. Stress makes you dead. Don’t stress.
The most unflappable beings on the planet have got to be Tibetan monks. They don’t budge out of their meditative state for anything. Which means they must have the whole inner peace thing handled.
Oh, sure, it’s easy for them. They don’t have families. They don’t have to worry about being fired. They can get by without a manicure or a blowout.
Us ordinary people have too much going on. Ever tried to be peaceful when you’ve got a migraine or a tight deadline? Impossible.
Meditation … out. Becoming a monk … out. Coloring books … out.
I needed a technique that made sense to me. Something that integrated easily into my life. So I tried a different approach.
Instead of trying to feel peaceful, I tried to choose peace.
You’d be amazed at how many decisions in life come down to choosing peace over drama and conflict.
Like the choice between making a fuss or letting it go.
Getting upset or taking a deep breath.
Buying a triple shot caramel macchiato or making a cup of chamomile tea.
In fact, I found that almost every single decision I made in life either increased my stress or increased my sense of peace.
Do I buy something I don’t need on credit, creating extra stress and financial tension until it’s paid off … or do I just wait?
Do I wake up in the morning, slam down a coffee, and rush about trying to get everyone everywhere they need to be on time … or do I simply set my alarm earlier?
Do I blame a colleague for causing a massive hold-up on the project … or do I just focus on how to get back on schedule?
In real life, inner peace isn’t about maintaining the lotus position and giving up all worldly concerns. It’s about making different choices.
Once you realize that every single thing you do either increases stress or promotes peace, you realize that inner peace is within your grasp. All you have to do is choose differently.
I wouldn’t say I exhibit monk-like calm these days. But I feel closer to peace than ever before.
And if that makes me healthier—heck, if it adds an extra 10 years to my lifespan—I’m not complaining.
Who needs the stress?