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The Paradox Of Pursuing Peace Of Mind

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Achieving inner calm -- or peace of mind -- is the primary objective for most people. At the end of the workday, on the cusp of the holiday, and after a long and rewarding career, we want to be able to relax and enjoy life. This desire is the driving force behind numerous aspects of society, business, and personal life. In fact, it's argued civilization itself is a product of our ancestors opting to live calmer, more peaceful existences instead of the lawless, albeit more liberal life of the wild.

Massive agencies and industries have sprouted up to provide peace of mind over the years. Public programs and private insurance are the obvious examples, but reducing risk and maximizing peace of mind is a service provided by several different sectors. Disaster recovery as a service, or DRaaS for short, is basically an insurance policy protecting the digital DNA of an enterprise or other entity. Banking, home security, and risk management are just some of the other industries in which the pursuit of peace of mind drives demand.

The irony of the situation is the amount of energy, effort, and emotional investment we put into the pursuit of peace of mind as societies and individuals. The question is whether or not the chase is worth the reward.

What are we without our health?

Many people associate particular experiences and material gains with achieving peace of mind. In short, this means people strive to generate the income necessary for making their dreams come true. At the end of the tunnel, all the hours upon hours of hard work making sales, building brands, or churning out reports in the office are done so we can afford peace of mind.

While a generalization, there's a somewhat reliable correlation between income and stress levels on the job. In short, the career paths most lucrative, most likely to provide financial security, are the ones who will demand the most time, energy, effort, and ingenuity. They will make a person a lot of money, but also place upon them lots of stress and anxiety.

Medical science makes it clear: stress is bad for health. In short, it can take years off your life. Add in the tendency for heavy workloads to squeeze out time for exercise and healthy eating habits; it's easy to see how the modern so-called successful lifestyle is ultimately destructive.

The very popular arrangement of ensuring peace of mind for our future by nearly eliminating it from the present tense is very often a self-sabotaging scenario. By the time the hard workers of this world are finished with their careers, their health is now on the line and peace of mind remains a carrot on the end of a stick.

What are we without our health? The pursuit of peace of mind often assumes we'll have freedom of mobility and possess a sound mind to enjoy the finer things in life. There is little to enjoy about a house on the water, a trip around the world, or a restored vintage automobile, without good health in the mix.

Peace of mind is not pleasure and relaxation

Allowing peace of mind to become one's life goal, and consequently tethering it to some kind of future lifestyle and financial situation, kind of defeats the point. Without getting too mystical sounding here, inner calm is less about outward rewards and stimuli, and more about adjusting one's mindset to the realities of the world. Peace of mind is not a reward, but a state of mind.

Achieving peace of mind in the modern world no doubt calls for some of the measures mentioned above which only money can buy: insurance, data security, and so forth. Once these risk management matters are handled, inner calm becomes a predominantly mental task. Folks interested in achieving real peace of mind must, ultimately, come to terms with the world around them.

Again, not trying to convert anyone to Buddhism here, but there's something to the idea that inner peace requires a reevaluation of the world. Material gain and status are, if anything, sources of diminished inner peace. These Earthly rewards are, if anything, generators of stress and emotional turmoil. It'd be hard not to trace most of the life's biggest worries back to our goals of attaining wealth and influence.

The road to inner peace is personal

If there was a silver bullet solution for everyone to achieve peace of mind, I wouldn't hesitate to share the good news. However, the truth is that the road to inner peace is personal -- dependent on everyone's unique situation. Some people may find yoga beneficial; others may not be able to see past the seemingly superficial silliness of getting into poses to achieve inner calm -- to each his own. Personally, meditation helped me learn valuable lessons about life and happiness. Getting yourself into the zone of your thoughts is what's important. Maybe hiking a trail or laying down in the grass is what gets you there.

But life goes on...

The paradox of pursuing peace of mind will never go away. At the end of the day, bills need to be paid, validation is important to our ego, fast cars are fun to drive, and so forth. There's no shortage of people willing to sacrifice what's necessary to make sure their goals and dreams are attained. Even if it means forgoing peace of mind in the short term, we are animals with material wants and needs and tend to be driven by them.

Thus, the cycle continues. Perhaps the first stage of reaching inner peace is accepting its seemingly constant elusiveness. As such, the solution is a paradox in and of itself.