Welcome back to The Spiritual Serenity Series: 7 Steps to Inner Peace and Happiness. Last week we looked at step 5, Action. This week we are looking at our final step:
Step 7: Maintenance
After going through these steps, something has happened. We have felt our existence come into peace with the world around us. We can look the world in the eye and know that we have done the best we can. We feel that we are a part of something now, something bigger than ourselves. For we have laid the foundation with which real spiritual growth and happiness will spring.
Remember our quote from step 1?
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Is this not what we have done?
In step 1 (awareness) we became aware that, if we are not satisfied with the way things are, change is needed to find true inner peace and happiness.
Step 2 (acceptance) taught us about accepting the things we can change, ourselves. And that we are responsible for becoming what we dream of becoming.
Step 3 (identification) is where we learned how to identify the things which we must change. Things which keep us from growing spiritually and towards inner peace and happiness.
The very important step 4 (self-searching), is where we discovered the how and why of our past behaviors. We discover the character flaws that caused the things we identified in step 3.
Step 5 (confession) taught us a little about humility and forgiveness.
In step 6 (action) we realized that for real change to happen, we must move our feet! Nothing great ever happened by sitting around thinking about it!
We have cleared, or at least started to clear, the wreckage of our past. This means that we can now walk upright, with pride and dignity. If there are things which continue to nudge our conscience, that keep our eyes looking down, we must take more action to clear them from our soul. This may mean more amends are to be made to others, or even to ourselves. Nothing is too great a task for we are on a path to true happiness.
Looking back when we started, we realized we needed to get three things in harmony to find happiness; thought, words, and action. Steps 1, 2, 3, and 4 were all about getting out thinking straight. Steps 5 and 6 are action steps and begin us on the path of doing the right thing. The by-product of having a clear conscience and right living is that we no longer need validation and happiness from outside ourselves. What others do or think is no longer our biggest concern, but how we are living. Are we being true to ourselves and our highest ideals?
We find that we no longer need to say or do things which are harmful to others. Actions and words—used only to hurt others and inflate ourselves—are no longer needed. For everything we need is within us as individuals.
Maintenance is about living each day to the best of our ability. Having followed these steps, we can move forward knowing we have done the best we can. So each day we set out to bring joy and love to the lives of others. As a friend of mine says, “Today, I will only give and receive love.”
Here are a few maintenance steps I do on a daily basis. Each morning when I wake I do four things before starting my day:
1. Take a Shower
2. Read one of my morning meditating books
3. Get on my knees
One of the prayers I say every morning is known as the Third Step prayer:
God, I offer myself to Thee–to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!”
Next, before I get off my knees, I remain quiet and just sit there for several minutes and listen to the day begin. Before getting up I say one more prayer, “God, show me what you will have me do today and give me the strength and the willingness to carry it out.”
What is amazing, is that throughout each day, there seems to always come a moment when someone is in need or I am given an opportunity to help someone. That is when I think back about the prayer I said that morning, and I get a chance to see if I really meant what I said.
At night before going to bed I again do four things:
1. Brush my teeth
2. Kiss my wife
3. Get on my knees
My nightly prayer consists of thanks mostly. I also do sort of a daily inventory, going over the entire day in my head to see if there’s any amends I need to make or areas which I can improve upon. I think about others who I know are suffering or struggling and I pray for them. This is also when I pray for those I may have a resentment towards. I pray that they have all of the things in their life that I want in mine; happiness, love, joy, peace, etc..
You may wonder why I put “get on my knees” in both lists as something I do. Originally, I started doing it because someone whom I admired suggested I try it. It was a symbol of my willingness to change. Now I do it because hitting my knees is an action. It forces me to concentrate on what I’m doing and is a physical display of humility and gratitude.
Well, that’s it for The Spiritual Serenity Series: 7 Steps to Inner Peace and Happiness. Let me know what you think. I really wish I could come around to everyone and help you work these steps in person. They really can change your life. To some extent, I do each step in some way everyday as part of my maintenance. My goal is to make this series into an eBook for distribution at some point, so keep an out out for that!
Even if you did not work these steps, you should really give a lot of thought to happiness being a by-product of right living. When you feel agitated, restless, or discontented, trying getting outside of yourself and helping someone. In the words of Francine Ward, “Self-Esteem Comes From DOING Esteemable Acts”
Please, if you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to hear about anything in particular, or need advice or want to discuss something in your life, shoot me an email.
photo credit: melolou