“Peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable.” – John Wooden
I’m helping a friend find their peace of mind (or as I like to put it, their “peaceful calm”).
He is a high performer, ambitious, and warm-hearted. He likes to help. And he often feels like he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
I want to put the best tools in his hands that I’m aware of to really help him work at creating his peace of mind. I see it more like a journey, less like a destination. (Or, another way to put it is I see it less like a problem to be solved, and more like a dilemma to be managed).
My goal is to get him to a better place fast, and inspire him to master peace of calm over his lifetime.
And the beauty is, he can take his peace of mind wherever he goes… it will always be with him.
What is Peace of Mind?
My dictionary says peace of mind is “a mental state of calmness of tranquility, a freedom from worry and anxiety”.
Well, that sounds like a worthy pursuit.
It’s right up there with inner peace, and I like how Wikipedia describes that:
“Inner peace refers to a deliberate state of psychological or spiritual calm despite the potential presence of stressors.”
I like to think of peace of mind as “peaceful calm”, and I remember a mentor that said “brains work better when they are rested and relaxed.”
But I really like how John Wooden thinks about peace of mind. When I first heard John Wooden during an interview, what struck me was the simple rules he lived by that helped him make meaning and find happiness. It was the first time I heard somebody say that success is “peace of mind.”
And, his way to achieve it was simple too:
“Give your best where you can”.
What a great way to frame success and set himself up for a lifetime of living his potential.
3 Quotes that Light Up the Power and Possibility of Peace of Mind
I chose 3 specific quotes that I think help frame the foundation for peace of mind:
- “Never be in a hurry. Do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever. Even if your whole world seems upset.” — Saint Francis De Sales
- “Love and peace of mind do protect us. They allow us to overcome the problems that life hands us to survive… to live now… to have the courage to confront each day.” — Bernie Siegel
- “Peace of mind is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” — Wayne Dyer
They are just ideas, but I find great power in quotes that share the wisdom of the ages and modern sages right at your mental fingertips.
I asked him to look for 3 quotes that help him get a better picture of what peace of mind could mean for him.
3 Kinds of Meditation
He already knows meditation, but I wanted to give him another lens to evaluate his mediation approaches to see if there might be a more precise or profound way to speed up or compound his existing efforts.
I recapped the 3 types of meditation because I know they change the brain differently and they help with different challenges:
- “Presence” – this is about focusing your attention when it wanders, attending to your breath, and sensing internal body sensations.
- “Affect” – this is about enhancing your compassion and empathy (“loving kindness”).
- “Perspective” – this is about observing your own thoughts without judging, and it helps you enhance your ability to understand the perspectives of others.
I suggested that practicing the “Presence” module could be a key to reducing his anxiety.
I figured if he practiced getting really good at presence, it will help him refocus his mind when he needs to, or re-calibrate his breath, or tune into his senses when he needs to regain his ground and find his firm foundation.
I was started to get prophetic and poetic, but refrained from getting all Dr. Seuss on him. I did remember a few lines from a poem, I think by Yoli Ramazzina, that’s supposed to be read like “Green Eggs and Ham”:
“Sun Salutations and Warrior Two
My blood is pumping and flowing through
My body strong, my mind is still
I’m feeling centered, zen and chill.”
He does Yoga so I thought he’d like the link between Yoga and practicing peace of mind.
Create a New Self-image Around a Peaceful Calm Persona
I asked him to create an image of himself, as he would be, as if he was already living his peace of mind. Basically, fake it until you make it, or act as if. But first I wanted him to model it in his mind. See it clearly. Visualize and picture what that peaceful calm really looks like for him. Everything will flow from here.
For me, a manager inspired me to adopt a James Bond persona to be more calm, cool, and collected.
My favorite way to think of peaceful calm is to imagine the first time you witnessed a breathtaking view. One that literally, or figuratively, takes your breath away. I remember the first time I saw the Grand Canyon and experienced the full panorama of it’s natural beauty in all its glory.
For that brief moment, the world stopped. And all I could do was take in this incredible view, that was unlike anything I had seen before. And the key to recall it is to “remember the feeling.” I find it’s a fast way to hit refresh on however I feel, and get back to that peaceful calm state.
I asked him to recall a scene in his life where he could remember what it felt like to be fully in the moment, fully present, and fully aware.
Adopt a Peaceful Calm Mindset
A mindset is how you look at the world, how you show up, and how you respond. The backbone of a mindset is a belief. For a Peaceful Calm mindset, I suggested a simple and singular belief to adopt:
I am relaxed, ready, and responsive.
I think that combo is powerful. It’s not foo foo. It’s not passive. It’s not reactive. It’s responsive. You are ready for anything.
I think there are 3 more supporting beliefs to embrace that help make that belief even more powerful:
- I embrace the world as it is, and I see how it could be
- I respond, not react, and I focus on what I control and let the rest go
- I do my best I can
#3 is really the essence of how John Wooden checked his peace of mind at night. When he went to bed, he’d ask himself, did he give his best where he could. And that was his peace of mind.
Set Up Your Personal Transformation for Success
Next, I went deeper into habits and models for personal transformation. I shared an article on the Neurological Levels for personal change from Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), along with a backgrounder. Briefly, the idea is that there are 6 levels of change, and higher levels shape the changes below them.
The six Neurological levels are:
It’s based on an anthropologist who wanted to better explain how people change — individuals, cultures, societies, etc.
A big idea is you can’t just change your environment or abilities and expect change, if you are stuck at the higher levels of purpose and self-image. We need to be congruent with ourselves.
So here I wanted him to link it to a deeper purpose, something bigger than himself where he could see how peace of mind fits in.
An interesting sidenote is that Robert Dilts, a famous NLP master trainer, first introduced the Logical Levels to NLP. He suggests that rather than focus on physiology and behavior, or emotional sate, focus directly on strategies, sub-modalities, beliefs, and identities. So, if you find yourself stuck with personal change, this could be the clue that unlocks the door.
Practice Habits for Peace of Mind
Next, I jumped to what could be a tougher part. I suggested he focus on habit change (and thoughts are habits, too).
I let him know that the toughest part would likely be this:
Finding and changing limiting beliefs.
They are often unconscious and subconscious, because they are habits. It’s ingrained thinking. It’s automatic.
I asked him to practice 3 things:
- Notice any comment or any situation where you have an emotional reaction. Pay attention to how you feel when you need to meet with your manager, or you are told you need to do something a different way, or you are told you need to work on XYZ. This will bring the limiting beliefs out into your light where you can work on them. You work on them by challenging your thoughts. You work on them by consciously choosing new choices. You work on them by making new decisions. You work on them by adopting new beliefs and practicing them. Your awareness is your gold. It will compound interest over time.
- I want you to practice the Awareness-assertion loop. It’s easy but life changing. Throughout your day, just assert what you are aware of playing in your mental background. Assert the tough stuff. “I am aware that I’m worried about my Dad”… “I am aware that my closest friends are far away”… etc. The more you assert, the more you will become aware and develop your self-awareness. What we resist persists, so when you shine the light on what’s troubling you below the surface, acknowledge it, and appreciate it… now you can act on it, or change how you look at it. As Tony To bibs would say, “Change your perception, or change your procedure.”
- I want you to practice a handful of affirmations around your Peaceful Calm approach that you create. Here are a few samples to give you ideas: 1) I am confident, capable, and calm (I’ve got this), 2) I am a living example of peace of mind, 3) I am calm, cool, and collected when things don’t go as planned (I embrace what is vs. what should be)
3 Keys to Doing Affirmations Better
When you practice these affirmations, I want you to picture them I. Your mind, as if it’s already true. It already happened. I want you to feel it in body, feel the feeling fully of these affirmations already true. I want you to really focus on what it feels like to be living your Peaceful Calm state of mind.
And I shared with my friend, advice from Dandapani. According to Dandapandi there are 3 keys to affirmations:
- Concise positive words
- Visualization (see them in your mind’s eye)
- Feeling (feel the affirmations in your body, as if already true)
I figured that was plenty for now, so I asked him to take 3 affirmations and call me in the morning.
Reflections on Peace of Mind
I have to say, I really enjoyed helping give my friend a jumpstart in diving deep into the art and science of achieving peace of mind. I also have a new level of respect for peace of mind as a strategy for life.
I reflected on the fact that John Wooden, one of the greatest leaders ever, used peace of mind as his single measure of success.
And I love the act that he set himself up for success, by focusing on something he could control—whether he gave his best.
I know it’s so easy to give our power away. What a powerful way to take it back and to exercise our power by practicing peace of mind as a measure of success.