Peace Love and Happiness: Finding Inner Peace and Accepting Love = Happiness

child peace signWhat does peace, love, and happiness mean to you? I think of the sixties—or was that sex, drugs, and rock and roll?—and the idea that love can end war and violence.

Is love really all we need?

If it’s that simple, we need to start with love for ourselves; until we accomplish that, nothing will change. By developing self-acceptance, understanding, empathy, and love for self, we’re better able to practice those very attributes in our relationships with others.

First a Little about Relationships

Does everyone really have a soul mate? It seems that everyone is searching for that one special person that will make their life complete. Then we’ll truly find happiness right?

Hollywood has made it hard for people to live up to the expectations of the fairytale relationship. I’m not a pessimist, just a realist.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful life and a beautiful wife whom I have an amazing relationship with. And by all accounts, I have never been happier. But it had more to do with me than her or “us.”

It seems so obvious now, my inability to find the perfect relationship; it doesn’t exist. Years ago—during a time of intense spiritual and emotional self development—I was asked to write down my “ideal” relationship and describe my perfect partner. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I do remember something important about the exercise. Once completed, my life coach had me go through and circle every time I had used the word “I.”  It was a lot.

The exercise revealed my perception of a healthy relationship was… well, off. More precisely, it was clearly all about me and what I was demanding from a partner. Moreover, I was demanding and believed that someone could actually make me happy. It was all about what I needed, not what I could offer.

To figure out what I had to offer, I had to find out who I really was; which was impossible until I found some peace within myself. It would also become clear later that as a result of not feeling worthy of love, my ideal partner was non-existent sub-consciously on purpose.

Another realization was that my long-term relationships (over 6 months… which was long to me) were pretty dysfunctional. The healthy ones didn’t last long; usually ending in me giving the “It’s not you, it’s me” line. I felt uncomfortable in healthy, communicative, and emotionally involved relationships because I had no idea how to be in one. As I was confused in what I wanted and unable to connect with myself emotionally, so too were the relationships I was attracted to.

Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.”
-James Allen from As A Man Thinketh
(Amazing short book! You can download a free .pdf here or get it on Amazon)

If we’re unable to have a healthy relationship with ourselves, wouldn’t it only make sense we’d be incapable of having them with someone else?

Peace

So began the long process of learning how to have a healthy relationship with myself. It seems pretty logical that since I spend all day with me, I should learn how to get along with me better. One huge obstacle—and often the reason many of us fail to act—is the fear that we won’t like what we find about our true selves.

The process of developing self-love and respect was/is… well, difficult at times. Wait, let me put it a different way; it’s uncomfortable. I get those confused sometimes. Let’s face it; it’s hard to take a real good look at yourself, especially when you’ve been running from it for so long.

One particular obstacle I faced in self-discover was the “what ifs.”  What if I do become self-aware, more in-tune with my highest ideal and authentic self, and I’m still not happy? What then?

It’s like not chasing a dream for fear of failing; we’re more comfortable with the idea of a dream than having to face the fear or realization that we’re not good enough. That is precisely why it is SO important to learn to accept and love our true self. With acceptance and love comes empathy and understanding; an understanding of what does and does not make us happy.

We’re more likely to succeed at something if we now exactly what it is we’re after! Think about it… about how efficient we are shopping when we know exactly what we’re looking for. It’s a great feeling to be an informed shopper!

Unless we learn to accept and love ourselves, we’ll never be able to truly accept it from others. How can we? It just doesn’t work that way, at least not for me; or at least not in a complete fulfilling and healthy way. Self-acceptance means we stop fighting with ourselves; we quiet the committee in our head and learn to get along with self. Thus we begin to experience inner-peace.

Love

What is love to you? What a question that is huh? I’d love to hear what others believe love to be! There are many great definitions, but one I found and particularly like defines love as; unconditional acceptance, devoutness, and trust, between two consenting individuals.

How can we ever know if we’ve accepted someone if we have no idea what that means or feels like? I like the term acceptance because it’s easier to associate self-acceptance with that for others than self-love.

The term “self-love” can sometimes be a little confusing, at least for me. When talking about self, distinguishing between love, self-esteem, and ego can get a little tangled. I’m better able to measure self-acceptance.

It’s common for people to know what love feels like but have difficulty expressing it with words. But acceptance is a little easier, at least to describe or associate with. Self-acceptance is important in regards to love because we first recognize it in ourselves. You can’t give away something you don’t have.

In regards to love and happiness, I’m not sure happiness is possible without love; at least not long-lasting happiness. Without acceptance and love, happiness is only temporary. We may feel happy most of the time, but deep down we feel as if there’s something missing.

Regardless of what we experience physically or emotionally, without self-acceptance and love, long-term inner-peace is unavailable and thus lasting love. Hmmm, although empathy may be possible… but that’s confusing me…

Self-acceptance is powerful as it enables us to feel worthy of love. The more love worthy we become, the easier it is to accept love from others.

Happiness

The journey to and process of reaching happiness is different for everyone, but I guarantee you—as sure as the sky is blue—if you have peace and love in your life, you won’t have to find happiness; it’ll find you!

If your goal is peace, love, and ultimately happiness, my suggestion is to start with peace. Learn to establish inner-peace with yourself, which in turn will help with acceptance and love.

By practicing acceptance and love (forgiveness) in all aspects of your life, happiness is inevitable. After all, life is not a search for happiness; happiness is a by-product of right living. Finding inner-peace and becoming love worthy enables us to accept love and experience happiness.

Comments

  1. Heather says

    Love the concept – “unconditional acceptance, devoutness and trust”. I consider this to be “self-love”. When you can look at yourself through your own eyes and feel this about yourself – that is loving you aka self love.
    I too spent many years in bad relationships – staying too long in doomed situations some physically threatening, betting on potential that I would be the woman to “save them” and show them love and be appreciated for it. Bascially if I could make the impossible possible then I would be good enough, smart enough – I would be enough – seeking validation outside myself. Somehow making someone else a better person would make me a better person. As if! Backasswards thinking. Constantly choosing the broken ones which merely reflected how I actually felt about myself but did not want to admit. Round and round I went in relationship insanity. Ouch! Owning up to that hurt.

    In learning to love yourself you find peace and happiness follows as its shadow unshakeable.

    • jared says

      Heather,
      Thank you so much for the great comments. I remember the first time I looked back on “my story” with compassion and empathy for myself and where I was at instead of guilt and shame. It was a real turning point. Learning to love and have compassion and empathy for self allows us to recognize and feel it for others. I finally understood what was meant by “getting it out of my head and into my heart.”

      Great example with your experience in trying to “save someone.” I think a lot of people get caught in the care-giver roll as an attempt to make themselves feel better. I still struggle with that somewhat, being a people pleaser. I am better able to recognize it now when I’m doing it for acceptance as opposed to altruism. Thanks again for your wonderful comments and sharing your experience with us.

  2. Ryan says

    To the author:

    Are you a Mormon? I mean that in the most respectful sense. The past few weeks I have felt an incredible sense of peace. I’d like to share my story to any who would like to read.

    It all started when I got a new computer as I entered into an MBA program at the University of Utah. I had a desire to be a better person and decided to use inspirational posters for the desktop wallpaper on my computer. One of them was a quote “The only person you are destined to become is the person you choose to be,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson I believe. This really struck a chord with me. For years I have felt somewhat lost, having a feeling that I somehow am not the man I used to be in high school. I had lost a love of people and my sense of direction in life. The fire was smoldering, but deep down the embers still burned. I wanted to be “a good man,” one who was known to love people.

    I started reading self improvement articles on a variety of subjects. Somewhere in all of this I read an article about communication skills. In it there was a simple statement indicating the need to be honest with ones self about where they were. I was not a good communicator, but if I was honest with myself, I found that the majority of the things I say stem from this underlying frustration and insecurity.

    Another article I read about early morning motivation suggested that cramming motivation the night before to force yourself out of bed doesn’t work. You simply wake up with “brain fog” and make poor judgment calls. It proposed making the act of getting up a conditioned response which one thinks about only sub-consciously. I started getting up every morning at 6:00. Each morning I stretch, sit up, turn the music to something I can resonate with, go get a glass of water and walk outside to drink it. By the time I’ve done drinking the water I feel quite refreshed by the cool morning air and generally have something specific in mind to go to work on.

    I continued to read various articles, noting ideals on my calendar I’d like to focus on improving. Hold your tongue. Look in people’s eyes when you speak with them. Mirror their actions slightly to build rapport. Smile. It releases endorphines. Keep a useful attitude; A bad attitude is never really productive. Not everything in your life is in your control; Do what you can and enjoy life. No need to stress out about things. Life is for enjoyment anyway. None of these were really specific goals, but they gave voice to my intimate desires, rather than leaving them suppressed. The underlying principal is that I want to be a good person.

    I quit trying to win peoples attention. I quit trying to be funny or smart or anything to anyone. Instead I just focused on loving an appreciating both myself and other people. I decided that far more than winning peoples attention or respect, I wanted to make people feel loved and appreciated; being nice became more important than being smart, witty, or anything else. Ironically, when I started being nice, I found myself given ample opportunities to make people laugh. It came naturally. I began largely doing what I wanted to rather than bowing down to real or imaginary social pressures.

    For two weeks I found myself on a nearly inexplicable high. I knew this all stemmed from my being who I wanted to be, rather than a slave to the fears of other people’s expectations.

    Then last weekend it flopped. I had done a great job planning for two weeks. My brother was fixing his house and the local church had some 60+ volunteers come to help. I was booked with homework, but I felt guilty for not helping throughout the week, so Friday and Saturday I went over. I also went to possibly find a date. In the end, I spent way more time there than I felt I should have. I also didn’t ask any girls out. There were three I considered, but I felt like I wanted to ask them out for who they were really and not simply because I thought I needed a date. I’m still a little lost on the subject of dating. I used to go on a ton of first dates… but now I want something more substantial. The question is how to develop that with someone quickly if you likely won’t see them again, so that you can get things on track for a better 1st date. I want to figure out how to have such a great meeting conversation with someone that you both know you both want to go out, even though you’ve just met.

    Sunday I was stressed out. I felt like I had an overwhelming amount of homework to complete. I contemplated taking a sick day from work, but figured I’d regret it. In my turmoil, I decided the only thing I had to do was to hit the reset button. I just didn’t quite know how. I admittedly went to bed frustrated because I couldn’t’ figure out how to get myself back on that high I had been experiencing.

    Monday I rolled in to work with only the thoughts to smile and enjoy people. Just a desire to keep a positive attitude. I opened my calendar to the list of pseudo goals mentioned above. It was like an instant reboot. I am religious and I can tell you that I felt the love of God shoot through my whole body. My hair all stood up on end with a wonderful tingling sensation. Suddenly I was back in perspective. Yes, I’d flopped the weekend, but I was on the right track. It is now just Tuesday morning. I haven’t done all of the homework, but I feel great!

    In trying to explain this to a friend last night, I found it is difficult to explain why this change has happened to me. In brief, I would say it primarily came because I accepted that who I am at the present is entirely the result of my decisions and acknowledged that who I want to be is totally up to me, and I want to be a good man. Everything else followed.

    I read you post in search of an answer as to how to better explain why I have felt so peaceful and how to restart the process if I ever fall back into a state of apathy.

    Thank you for your post and to all those who read this, I wish you the best in life and your pursuit of happiness. “The only person you are destined to become is the person you choose to be.”

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