Humans 101

How to Live a More Peaceful, Fulfilling Life During Times of Chaos

First, you must know yourself

Image: anand purohit/Getty Images

Our lives are not what they used to be. The pressures on many of us continue to mount, and it’s more important than ever to take responsibility for managing our well-being.

In the face of these challenges, we need to find ways to live peacefully on our journey toward inner satisfaction, purpose, and meaning. Here are 10 practices that have helped me — and may help you — live a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

1. Find your inner strength

We all have routines, rituals, or practices that help us focus. The most important thing I’ve ever done is to find a practical way to minimize the self-talk in my head and connect to my inner power.

My inner power comes from grounding myself in a daily breath-work meditation practice. It’s simple, and it works for me. When I tap into that, I can see, think, and behave more clearly. I think of it as my invisible fountain of self-fulfillment.

Your inner power might be prayer, reflection, journaling, exercise, or being in nature. Whatever it is, make time for yourself each day to go within, recharge, and find your true self, because this is where inner fulfillment resides.

2. Know what you stand for

Being clear about what is most important to you is like having a gyroscope inside you. Knowing and living your highest values will keep you balanced and help you make heartfelt, wise choices that leave you proud at the end of the day.

When you lose touch with what you stand for, or never knew in the first place, you make yourself vulnerable to behave in ways you will likely regret later—particularly in times of stress and chaos. Short-term, impulsive thinking can easily override logic and the ability to see beyond the moment.

If you aren’t sure of your values, ask yourself: What’s important to me? Or ask yourself: Who do I admire, and why? When you admire someone else, that’s often an indicator of what is important to you. From the long list of everything that’s important to you, narrow it down to a short list of qualities that are nonnegotiable. If you want to help doing this, here is a free detailed values inventory.

As an example, I have four core values that guide me.


I have the ability to respond to any given situation. I get to make choices regarding how I behave, and I take ownership of my behavior and encourage others to do the same.


I aim to be proud of my behavior by conducting myself in alignment with my values. I don’t play to win at all costs. My success comes from playing fairly and knowing that how I play the game is more important than winning.


I tell my truth—directly and respectfully. I don’t hold back what I know needs to be said, nor do I intentionally break down someone’s self-esteem.


I’m curious and realize that my version of the truth is just that: a version. Other points of view exist. I can’t see the whole picture; I see things only through my eyes.

3. Hold yourself to your standards

If you are clear on what your values are, there is no need to compare yourself to others or base your success on the degree to which others accept you. More than what others think of you, it matters what you think of you. People-pleasing will ultimately do nothing but destroy your sense of self.

When you hold yourself accountable to your standards, you develop the ability to go for what you want, independent of social approval. You start measuring success in terms of how you conduct yourself, regardless of whether you achieve a tangible goal. Lasting self-confidence doesn’t come from accomplishing a long list of tasks; it’s the result of doing your best and finding peace in that.

When you intend to do your best—no matter what—you have freed yourself from comparison to others. You’ll naturally be more at ease.

4. Get comfortable in your skin

Peaceful people like and accept who they are, flaws and all. It’s inspiring when you meet someone at ease with who they are. They know they don’t have it all together, can laugh at themselves, and effortlessly put others at ease.

One way we become comfortable in our skin is by letting go of judgment. When we no longer need to judge others and ourselves, we allow our true selves to emerge. We each have more beauty and wisdom within us than we give ourselves credit for. We hold ourselves back.

We are born to seek wholeness, but we can’t have it until we find a way to accept who we are. The more we acknowledge and embrace those parts of ourselves we don’t like, the more we will be at peace. Instead of pushing away your darkness and flaws, treat them with love. When you do, you’ll find that the comfort you’ve been looking for is actually within you.

5. Know what you’re good at and what you aren’t

I love when I hear someone acknowledge what they do well or say “thank you” when they receive a compliment. People like this know what they are good at, and it hasn’t gotten to their head.

Equally important is knowing what isn’t a strength and what your boundaries are. It feels empowering to say “I can do X, and I’m not great any doing Y yet, but I can try.”

I recently made a list of all the things I accomplished last year, and it was illuminating. The process of writing down what you do well can be quite revealing. It’s easy to forget our talents, because they are second nature to us, and we often focus on what we aren’t good at. Keeping your strengths front and center will boost your feeling of self-worth, which is essential to reaching inner peace.

6. Visualize what you want, and take steps forward

Visualizing something we want creates an intention, and when we take action, even small steps, we open up a psychic pathway that enables our vision to take form. Our thoughts have power. When we override negative self-talk, we stretch ourselves to imagine that the impossible is possible, inviting our dreams into our lives.

Many people accomplish things they never thought possible because, at some point, a negative belief transformed into a positive one. During the process, we become more convinced, more confident that our dreams can come true. Our energy shifts from “Oh, I could never do that” to “Maybe I can,” and then to “I know I can.”

The key is to define what you want in broad terms and take steps toward the goal. Don’t get hung up on how the seemingly impossible will happen — focus on the practical steps to move you ahead.

For example, I wanted to play guitar and write and record music in my forties. I had no particular musical background or training in any of this. I was a self-taught mediocre guitar player with a burning desire to express myself through music. I started taking guitar and vocal lessons and practiced a lot. Within eight years, I recorded two CDs, found myself in a garage band, and occasionally played with professional musicians in small local clubs. The CDs certainly aren’t going to rise to the top of the charts, but they are respectable, and I’m proud of what I accomplished. It all started as an idea in my head and some practice.

Follow your passion, back up your dreams with action, and watch your life flourish.

7. Manage the negative self-talk

One of the jobs of the ego/talkative mind is to create stories. The stories produced by the ego look and sound real, except they aren’t. Our brain is designed to filter reality, taking in selected facts and data. It interprets and makes meaning from that data and forms opinions, beliefs, and conclusions within milliseconds.

When you hear self-talk like, “You’ll never find the right person to be with,” or “I’m going to have an awful day,” or “I’ll never find the right job,” ignore it! It’s pure, utter bullshit. It has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with projection, conjecture, and the ego trying to wind you up.

When we get in touch with our inner self, the silent mind, we live more in the present moment, free from the past and the future. The more we find ourselves here, the more peaceful we will be.

8. Don’t let small defeats define you

Setbacks happen, and they can fuel the talkative, negative mind. Distinguish between replaying the past and learning. Replaying the past is self-torture and second-guessing. Learning is about how to be more effective in the future by extracting key lessons from the past.

There is no point in agonizing over what happened in the past. Yes, it’s painful to fail at something, and there is a natural process of introspection. Still, it’s essential to move on quickly, reframing the setback as a learning opportunity.

Instead of beating yourself up, ask yourself: What can I learn from this? What can I do differently in the future? Who, if anyone, deserves an apology for my error? If you have the mindset of a learner, new doors will open in the future, and your inner satisfaction will grow.

9. Be curious

It’s natural for many people to be curious, because they know they don’t know everything and have no reason to pretend they do. They are safe and secure in understanding themselves and realize they will never stop learning.

We bring curiosity into daily life in a variety of ways: by understanding that our subjective experience is only our opinion, not the truth; by checking the inferences we make before taking action; by speaking in “I” statements to own our opinions (for example, “I disagree with your idea,” instead of “That’s a stupid idea”); by seeking to understand before we are understood; and by having an open mind.

Curiosity is the mindset of someone who values learning over looking good. Looking good is driven by the ego; curiosity flows from our spirit. When we are curious, we intend to learn and grow and be the best version of ourselves—someone confident, curious, and in touch with their spirit.

10. Practice giving

When you are connected to your inner self, you believe in the inherent goodness of the universe. You know you are blessed and fortunate to have whatever you have, and you realize it’s not purely a result of your own doing. You understand you have received second chances and maybe even more. You know it doesn’t have to be this way; you could have been cut out of the picture, but you weren’t.

You trust yourself because, deep down inside, you know you are inherently good. You don’t need to take — you find ways to give. When you give, you reflect how the universe has treated you, knowing full well that the peace you feel is a gift that can help others.

If you would like a pro bono coaching session with me, please get in touch. I’d be honored and happy to offer a hand.

10 years as a monk, 49 years meditating, 30 years in the shark-infested waters of corporate America | Connect with me on Linked In-

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