Pursuing Inner Peace Part II

According to the United Nations, there are currently 7.7 billion people inhabiting the earth. That means there are 7.7 billion journeys to be embarked on and 7.7 billion realizations to be experienced.

How are we defining realization?

This realization singularly means: “I am embarking on my personal journey towards inner peace. I may never get there, and I accept this.”

This realization relates to personal awareness, the first of the 3 A’s: awareness, acceptance, and application.

We define awareness as the ability to look inside yourself and identify the things that make you who you are, objectively and without judgement or bias. The journey of inner peace is the act of seeking this awareness.  

The purpose is in the pursuit, not the destination. Pursuing inner peace allows you to manage the external chaos that is the world we live in.

Sometimes we get caught up in the “need to achieve” – a product of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation that is distinctly human. The key to understanding inner peace is this: the commitment to the journey of inner peace surmounts the achievement of it.

This commitment allows your focus to shift from finite details, to freedom of the mind and spirit. And allows you to start living, rather than simply existing –  the difference between conscious and unconscious being.

What do you choose?

Were the Mayans right?

According to the Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012 signaled the end of the 13th Bak’tun, an almost 400 year period in the Maya long-count calendar. Per Mayan philosophy, the end of the long count represents the end of an old cycle and the beginning of a new one.

Was it intended to predict the end of the world?

Actually, no, that’s just our society’s interpretation.

What’s more interesting, are the parallels to our contemporary world.

In our new reality, influenced most obviously by technological innovations like the iPhone and the internet, we are drifting further away from human consciousness.

Our new normal is characterized by a departure from thought to an existence comparable to that of animals, where action is taken out of instinct versus thoughtful inquiry. Or simply, asking why.

As author Nicholas Carr of The Shallows finds, we are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.

The initial interactions in dating, for example, are now akin to an instinctual response to photos via swipes on a screen, rather than mindful musings of who a person is and how you might get along.

Our means of communication, too, emphasizes speed and quantity, over meaning and quality. While your Instagram following may improve your credibility in the digi-sphere, it does not correlate to your capacity to concentrate, contemplate and reflect – which ultimately defines your credibility as a person in the end.

We are moving away from why and disproportionately focused on what.

Maybe the Mayans were right. How do we navigate this new reality?

Pursuing Inner Peace

We expend a lot of our effort on optics. We are slaves to the external world and our roles within in. This external world is governed by material comforts and earning power – known to us conceptually as capitalism.

And for what?

What about our inner peace?

Before we concern ourselves with how we are perceived and engage externally, we should focus our energies on ourselves internally.

But for some reason, we tend to operate in the reverse.

Remember, the external is fleeting. Basing fulfillment and purpose on external variables is a moving target. Once I achieve material bliss, be it in the form of a revenue goal or salary threshold, my purpose changes to something else so I can continue the pursuit of what I believe equates to happiness and fulfillment.

The internal, however, is enduring. Our minds are governed by our thoughts, which only the individual can dictate. First, we need to cultivate a sound mind and live deeply by the meaning of our truth, before we grapple with our outward realities.

So shouldn’t we first look within before we look outside?

Throughout history, spiritual leaders have dedicated their lives to exploring this means of introspection.

Jesus Christ, the prophet Mohammad, and Siddhartha Gautama each embarked on a personal journey devoted to finding and understanding the meaning of inner peace. These journeys became foundational to religions, cultures, ways of life – narratives of what internal peace is and how it can be achieved.

These stories are legacies that speak to lessons, values and morals. But the truth is, every individual has their own story to tell.

It’s like getting in shape. Certain exercise and dietary regiments work for some people, while other regiments work for others. We use variations of such programs as they work and show results for us. The same can be said of the search for inner peace.

Inner peace is the destination, and the destination ultimately represents different things for different people. Truth represents different things for different people.

We seek peace, we seek truth. The challenge is we often don’t know what that peace and truth is for ourselves.

How do we figure out what it is? Where do we find it? That is a personal journey.

Choose Happiness

Happiness is a choice, not a result. Dodinsky said the key to being happy is knowing you have the power to choose what to accept, and what to let go. This goes for both our personal and professional lives.

How do we get there?

The 3 A’s – awareness, acceptance, and appreciation – provide a framework that helps us define happiness and how to get there – in the workplace and at home.

Awareness

Ability to look inside yourself and identify the things that make you who you are, objectively and without judgement or bias. 

I’m aware that I am a big picture thinker and getting into the weeds of details is not my favorite thing to do.

Acceptance

Courage to accept what you find about yourself, and the understanding to embrace the implications for how you live your life.

I accept that I need support from those who can offer their expertise in the areas I’m not strong in, like financial analysis.

Appreciation

Gratitude for who you are in this life and the opportunity you have to live it.

I appreciate my ability to empathize with others and share in their raw emotion, however happy or painful.

“Corporations”: The Why, How, & So What?

Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees, and lions; on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations, and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.

In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari makes a compelling observation about corporations and the role they play in our economics.

For one thing, corporations are a figment of our collective imaginations – a legal fiction, as termed by lawyers.

Before the creation of corporations, people themselves were personally held liable for loans, private property, transactions gone wrong. A scenario which, as you can imagine, discouraged entrepreneurship. People were afraid to start businesses and absorb economic risks. Rightly so.

Today, as has been the trend over the past few centuries, such companies have become dominant players on the economic scene. It’s easy to forget these entities only exist in our imaginations. And as illustrations by many corporations’ behaviors, they often do.

How did companies become such a driving force in our world’s economy? Through telling effective stories, and convincing people to believe in them. It’s through this belief that millions of strangers are able to cooperate and work towards common goals. These ideas are concretized by company vision, mission, and values. Some might call this branding.

What’s ironic, is, (most) companies operate with the bottom line in mind, not the interest of its people. When in fact, the company is comprised of – you guessed it – people. The primary customers are, in general, people. I call this is the people’s paradox.

Many of us operate with the assumption that companies have the best interest of their employees in mind. Given the company itself functions in the interest of profit, we need to be mindful of these implications and how they affect us as people, not as assets or capital.

Anti-Utopia in 2019

We live in a world where the implications of Brexit, the erosion of American democracy, and the resurgence of Europe’s far right dominate world politics.

Given the current landscape, the mantra “new year, new me” seems a bit inappropriate, and quite frankly, unrealistic. As Oliver Burkeman of The Guardian offers, “the creeping fear that you might be living in the end times is a poor basis for making a new beginning.”

Today, there’s a spirit of anti-utopianism catching wind. This philosophy flips the personal narrative from self-reinvention to self-awareness and self-acceptance – the idea that perfection should not be the goal, but that accepting ourselves for who we are and appreciating what that means with utmost graciousness, is, in fact, enough.

Awareness and acceptance should be anchored in this appreciation for life, for self, for truth. It’s through this awareness that we can accept ourselves and move forward through life, appreciating the gift of existence, and not losing ourselves in that which we cannot control. Cue world politics.

The most difficult part of acceptance is awareness – the admission of our shortcomings, weaknesses, blind spots, whatever you want to call them. Once aware, how do we accept? Do we hope for the best, or do we fear the worst? Your perspective will dictate how you pursue your truth, how you show appreciation for life, for breath, for self.

What is (your) truth?

What is truth?

Socrates defines truth as “a wandering that is divine.”

Wandering implies a journey, a search, a pursuit that is aimless, or lacking intention. Socrates describes truth as a journey with intention, guided by God or godlike intervention. While we cannot speak for Socrates, we can infer we he would probably view truth as what we today term soul searching. The questions become…What are you looking for? What is your truth?

Sometimes, especially in today’s world, we wear masks to protect ourselves from external forces that may harm us. These forces may manifest in forms of danger, or fear – real or perceived. Things like money, or lack thereof, people who you view as dangerous. Call it self-preservation.

Sometimes, our masks become our behavior so much so that they become our identity. This self-deception inevitably disconnects us from our truth we concurrently seek. So how do we get past this manifestation of fear?

Speaking your truth is an act of self-inquiry, of introspection. While we may shy away from asking ourselves the tough questions, the outcome is worth the discomfort. From this self-inquiry, we find peace in our truth. On this journey of truth that is your life, what are you looking for? How do you know when you find it?

You know, when you are willing to embrace your own being entirely and unashamedly. Ultimately, that means recognizing what is in fact your deepest truth—the raw awareness of the unspoken “I am.” Sometimes we call these affirmations.

I am strong. I am determined. I am unafraid.

Whatever you call it – your truth, your purpose, your vision– don’t be afraid of it. For fear stokes shame. No one should feel ashamed of who they are and what they believe.

Because all human beings should feel safe and empowered in pursuit of their dreams.