Learn what inner peace is, how it feels, and how you can develop it.
Generally, inner peace is defined as a low-arousal positive emotional state coupled with a sense of balance or stability (Cherif et al., 2022). Low-arousal positive states are those calm and relaxed happy feelings that aren’t extreme or exciting. They include feelings of calmness, serenity, tranquility, and contentment, in contrast to feelings like exuberance, ecstasy, or euphoria. Low-arousal positive feelings come from within and may be more authentic, stable, and durable than high-arousal positive feelings (Dambrun et al., 2012).
Inner peace means balance, equanimity, even-mindedness, harmony, and stability (Desbordes, et al., 2015). Pleasures are experienced and enjoyed without getting overexcited while pains are experienced without getting despondent. This evenness of temper may guard against dangers that come from excessive positive or excessive negative emotions.
Excessive positive emotion may put a person at risk of developing an unhealthy compulsion to consume, acquire, or strive, which may in turn lead to addiction, materialism, or ruthlessness. Excessive negative emotions, on the other hand, may lead to aggression, defensiveness, or dishonesty (Xi & Lee, 2021). Both of these extremes are to be avoided and inner peace means existing in a state of balance and stability.
In 2013, researchers from Taiwan and the United States explored the emotional components of inner peace and found that the following words best described the experience of inner peace for the 378 people that participated in their study (Lee et al., 2013):
In a recent study, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 900 people in order to discover attributes and characteristics that underlie inner peace (Demirci & Eksi, 2018). These include:
Relationships and trust - Having social support, secure ties, and close relationships may help you find inner peace.
Personal virtues - People with more inner peace may be more likely to display characteristics like compassion, empathy, responsibility, flexibility, self-control, and optimism.
Social Virtues - tolerance, forgiveness, acceptance, and helpfulness may encourage inner peace.
Acceptance - How you position yourself relative to other people, showing gratitude, empathy, anti-materialism, conviction, and satisfaction may help you find inner peace.
Spirituality - Spirituality, religion, or faith may enable inner peace.
Optimism - Believing and acting in a way that expects positive outcomes may enable inner peace.
Nature - Spending time in nature may promote inner peace.
Physical health - Being in good physical health may allow people to maintain low arousal happiness.
Stable finances - Not having to worry about access to the basics required to sustain life may similarly allow people to remain content despite fluctuations in daily experience.
Physical activity - Exercising in ways that are appropriate to your talents, skills, and ability levels may promote inner peace.
Habits For Inner Peace
You may be able to find inner peace by making changes in your life according to the findings of the above study.
Gardening - People who tend a garden may have more inner peace than those who don’t, and people who garden more may have higher levels of inner peace (Perez, 2021). The physical labor of gardening may provide some beneficial effects of exercise. Gardening also involves connecting with nature. What’s more, gardening is a quiet and slow activity that is often contemplative, serene, and even meditative. Gardening may promote the development of patience since the growth of fruit, flowers, or foliage takes place over long periods. Lastly, gardening may teach you to let go. After planting the seeds, much of the garden’s growth is out of your hands. Your garden may encounter an unexpectedly frosty night, a hungry caterpillar, or an over-zealous gopher. Although a gardener may hope for a good harvest, she may soon come to realize how much is outside of her control. The gardener may realize that she needs to let go of expectations. This mindset may expand out of gardening and may encourage the development of a broader inner peace.
Meditation - Meditating may be a way to get close to the sense of calmness and stability that defines inner peace. Meditation, with its focus on objective observation and non-reactive acceptance of all experiences, may cultivate mindsets and states of being that are conducive to inner peace (Shapiro, 1992).
Practicing gratitude - People who practice gratitude experience more positive effects including calmness and peace of mind (Liang et al., 2020). You may be able to increase your gratitude and your peace of mind by intentionally practicing gratitude by, for example, keeping a daily gratitude journal.
Yoga - Regular yoga practice may increase feelings of inner peace. Yoga may encourage mindfulness by encouraging awareness and acceptance of the body’s sensations and movements. Yoga also encourages a focus on the present, which may silence mental chatter and may encourage the development of inner peace (Chandran & Unniraman, 2019).
Inner peace is contentment and balance that doesn’t change as outside circumstances change. Although finding inner peace may be a more difficult, more arduous task than finding happiness, the benefits may be far greater. Happiness is usually fleeting - the vacation ends, your new car gets dented, your new job becomes routine. Inner peace, which comes from within, doesn’t change as circumstances change. However, inner peace, unlike happiness, needs to be cultivated and developed through mindful living. By choosing to intentionally develop inner peace, you may discover a sense of serenity, tranquility, balance, and stability that is with you always, in your good times and in your bad times.
Chandran, K. M., & Unniraman, P. (2019). Influence of yoga in achieving peace of mind. International journal of yoga, physiotherapy and physical education, 4 (3), 64-66.
Chérif, L., Niemiec, R., & Wood, V. (2022). Character strengths and inner peace. International Journal of Wellbeing, 12(3).
Dambrun, M., Desprès, G., & Lac, G. (2012). Measuring happiness: from fluctuating happiness to authentic–durable happiness. Frontiers in psychology, 16.
Demirci, İ., & Ekşi, H. (2018). Keep calm and be happy: A mixed method study from character strengths to well-being. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 18(2).
Desbordes, G., Gard, T., Hoge, E. A., Hölzel, B. K., Kerr, C., Lazar, S. W., ... & Vago, D. R. (2015). Moving beyond mindfulness: defining equanimity as an outcome measure in meditation and contemplative research. Mindfulness, 6(2), 356-372.
Lee, Y. C., Lin, Y. C., Huang, C. L., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). The construct and measurement of peace of mind. Journal of Happiness studies, 14(2), 571-590.
Liang, H., Chen, C., Li, F., Wu, S., Wang, L., Zheng, X., & Zeng, B. (2020). Mediating effects of peace of mind and rumination on the relationship between gratitude and depression among Chinese university students. Current Psychology, 39(4), 1430-1437.
Perez, J. A. (2021). Gardening for Peace of Mind during the Covid-19 Crisis. Academia Lasalliana Journal of Education and Humanities, 2(2), 1-11.
Shapiro, D. H. (1992). A preliminary study of long term meditators: Goals, effects, religious orientation, cognitions. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 24(1), 23-39.
Xi, J., & Lee, M. T. (2021). Inner Peace as a Contribution to Human Flourishing. Measuring Well-Being: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from the Social Sciences and the Humanities, 435.