10 Simple Tips & Shortcuts to Inner Peace & Joy

Guest Post by Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW. Scroll to the end for a chance to win a copy of her book Shortcuts to Inner Peace: 70 Simple Paths to Everyday Serenity. Winner chosen on March 19th.

Does your life feel “crazy” and “nonstop”?

Is your mind always busy?  Does it feel like stress is your constant companion?  Do you long for some quiet, for just a little inner peace in your life?

Opening to Joy

Although stress and anxiety seem to be caused by our circumstances, in reality, stress is caused by our response to our circumstances.  The good news is that we can learn to change how we respond to challenging situations. We can learn healthy, easy exercises that will calm our stressful thinking and redirect our experience to one of gratitude, acceptance and joy.

What are Shortcuts to Inner Peace?

But who has the time for lengthy exercises, right?  That’s the beauty of the Shortcuts.

Shortcuts are simple, brief mindfulness exercises that are easy to integrate because they are prompted by ordinary, everyday activities and experiences.  You’ll find that they are daily stepping stones to access your innate inner peace no matter how busy or hectic your life.

Shortcuts are designed take us off autopilot

Shortcuts to inner peace create a restorative pause in our usual fast pace.  They quickly become new habits and, through repetition, actually change the way our brains respond to stressful situations.

So use these 10 Shortcuts to experience more peace and less stress in your life . . . starting today!

Shortcuts to Quiet the Busy Mind

1) Freeze Frame  To do when you drink your coffee or tea in the morning:

As you take your first sip, pause for a moment, take a deep breath, freeze the frame (make a mental camera click sound), and think, Life is good. Notice, breathe, absorb, and savor the tastes as well as the moment. Develop this happiness habit with every drink throughout the day.

This tool creates a “pause” which momentarily stops the physical and emotional spiral of the day.

2) Go with the Flow  To do when washing your hands:

Whenever you’re at a sink and touch water, let the stream of liquid cue you to say, “I go with the flow” or “I trust the universe” or “I have faith in the flow of what is.”  This exercise reminds you to let go and flow with the current of life.

With this tool we remember the peaceful power of acceptance.

Shortcuts for Gentle Transitions

3) Shakedown  To do when you come home at the end of the day: 

Before you walk through the door, spend a moment “shaking down” your body, as if you are shaking off water. Shake your right and left legs and feet. Shake your right and left arms and hands.  Finish by gently shaking your head and letting your shoulders relax.  Take a deep breath and heave a hearty sigh.

When we clear or shake off energy from our days, we restore ourselves to a place of calm so that we can be present at home.

4) Rest in Peace  To do when your head rests on the pillow at night

As you rest, review your day and think of three things that happened for which you are grateful.  Actively recall each instance and re-create the experience of it.  Hold the feeling and imagine yourself as a sponge, letting the memory sink into you.

By reflecting on moments of joy during your days, you create a habit of positivity and you become increasingly more joyful and more peaceful.

Shortcuts to Open Your Heart

5) Stop, Drop, and Roll  To do when stopped at a red light.

Stop,” “drop” down into your heart, and “roll” out a little goodwill and open heartedness to those around you. Look at the pedestrians and the people in other cars all around you, and recognize that each one of them is just like you: They want joy and they want to be free from suffering.

Connect for a brief moment and wish them well. Focus on one person at a time and say or think something like:  May you know happiness. Peace be with you. I hope you have a nice day.

Warm feelings toward others activate the calming aspects of our own nervous systems and offers us a deeper sense of inner peace.

6) Remember This  To do when you’re stuck in a line or have an unexpected wait 

Ask to yourself, “what do I need to remember”? Keep asking yourself this question until you get a substantial answer like “I need to remember what really matters in life,” “I need to remember how lucky I am to have healthy children,” “I need to remember that on my deathbed, none of these worries will matter.”

When the answer comes to you, feel the emotions behind the remembrances and let them flood your body. Redirecting our thoughts to life’s big priorities helps snap us out of patterns of stressful thinking.

Shortcuts for Reactive Relationships

7) Take 5  To do when you find yourself getting angry or frustrated with someone

Breathe in through your nose to the count of five. Feel the air as it comes through your nose and expands into your lungs. Hold your breath to the count of five and then purse your lips and exhale long and slow through your mouth.  Repeat several times.

When you redirect your mind to an awareness of our breath, you create a moment of calm in which inner peace can bloom.

8 ) Cheesecloth  To do when you’re in a crowded, loud environment or when you’re being faced with a hostile encounter.

Breathe in deeply and imagine yourself becoming a porous fabric, and let the fluid world—all sights and sounds—pass through you. Breathe out slowly and observe as words, insults, and emotions float through and around you while you remain unattached and nonreactive.

Watching that energy wash over us without consequence trains our brains to be nonreactive and lets us move into a place of peace.

Shortcuts to Connect with Spirit

9) Daily Dose  To do in the morning just before getting out of bed. 

As you lie in bed, state an affirmation as a form of mindful intention. Begin with a deep breath. As you breathe out, say, “I am peaceful today” or “I experience inner peace throughout my day.”

Say it in the present tense as if it is already happening and let yourself feel that peace sink down deep inside you.  Think of this Shortcut as a morning “peace pill.”

When we take a moment to set our intention on calm, we set the day off on a trajectory of peacefulness and we break the cycle of automatic morning thoughts.

10) Big Sky   To do when you get in the car or before you get on public transportation.

Look to the sky . . . contemplate the vast space, the details in the clouds and imagine beyond the blue sky to our solar system and beyond. “Breathe” in the sky, “breathe” in the spaciousness, and as you exhale slowly, say, “The spaciousness above is mirrored within me.”

When we remind ourselves that we are a tiny and vital piece to the puzzle, our worries become pretty “small stuff.”

Ashley Davis Bush is a psychotherapist and the author of three self help books including Shortcuts to Inner Peace:  70 Simple Paths to Everyday Serenity and Transcending Loss

She facilitates and posts daily on three Facebook support sites, one for grievers, one for those seeking inner peace and another for couples looking to increase their emotional intimacy.

Find her on Twitter, Youtube, & LinkedIn.

What’s your favourite shortcut to peace? Tell us and you could win a copy of Ashley’s book!

For additional chances to win, tweet / like / pin / stumble this post & let us know you did in the comments below. A winner will be chosen on March 19th.  
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Life Coach / Awesomeness Inciter + Inner Sparkle Activator Tia Sparkles offers tips, advice, community hug-a-thons to ignite your Inner Sparkle — that shimmery part of your spirit that says YES to courage + connection, and NO WAY to ‘shoulds’ + restrictions.

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Comments

  1. says

    Ashley,
    Taking a walk is a great way for me to find peace. It gets me out of the house and into the sunshine. (I’m just about to go right now!!) Reading a book is another way. It clears my head and brings me into another world.

    Thanks for a beautiful guest post Tia! Your book sounds wonderful Ashley! I’d love to read it!!

    • says

      I do those too, Betsy! Great tips – nothing like nature, huh :) And naps! Thanks for the comment, you’re in the draw. Good luck!

  2. Rich says

    What a wonderful guest author and article, I liked it and shared it on my facebook page. I really love the doggy zen picture.
    My favorite shortcut to peace is, as I lie in bed, stating peaceful affirmations about my day as if they have already happened and creating positive and peaceful interactions during my day.
    It’s something that I really need to work on until it becomes a habit.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing, Rich! That’s a very powerful habit you’ve got. Mine is gratitude – 10 things I’m grateful for in the morning, 10 at night. I really want to set more intentions and visualise my day going as I want before it starts, gotta turn that into a habit next.

  3. Jen says

    My favorite short-cut to peace, is to spend time with my dog. I take him for a walk, brush, and pet him.

  4. says

    # 9 is my favorite. The daily dose !! Sounds like a good way to start anyday !! I want to learn how to make life liveable again. I am living with C.O.P.D. and learning a better way of life, or a healthier way can only help someone feel better too. God Bless and PEACE !!!

  5. Laura Agin says

    I shared this on my Facebook page…this is wonderful & inspirational , a way to stay in the present and keep centered throughout the day…I do a few of these things daily but I love that I now have new ones!! thank you

    • says

      Thanks so much for sharing it forward, Laura! What’s your fan page? Feel free to share the link so we can come like your page :)

  6. Mannix says

    I love the idea of shaking off those energies after a long day. Not only it looks symbolic (as if we are shaking off all the stress and pent up energy) it also give you the idea that you can now relax.

  7. says

    My favorite ways are through a fifteen minute prayer in the morning. Amazingly energizing and soothing as a habit. I also enjoy walking to feel peaceful. Oh, most of all I enjoy talking to mine 14-year old about his dreams and fantasies. Some are so far-fetched, they almost seem possible!

    Beautiful post, Ashley – you book sounds very interesting.

    Thank you, Tia, for this lovely post.

  8. Lynne says

    My shortcut to inner peace: Slap on the headphones, listen to AtlantisAngelis (I never tire of it) while playing Zen Stones on my Mac!

  9. Niki says

    I like to take a few moments to connect to my breath and fill myself with white light from head to toe imagining myself as a beautiful sequoia tree standing tall and proud.

    • says

      That image makes me smile and feel peaceful so I can only imagine how powerful it would be to actually visualise it! Thanks Niki!

  10. Adriana Vidal says

    I use a Mindfulness Bell app on my phone that rings periodically during the day. It’s a nice reminder to stop and be aware. I can definitely use Stop, Drop & Roll more often; I’m generally pretty successful at staying positive and happy but driving in Los Angeles definitely tries my patience more often than not!!

    Thanks for the great guest post!

  11. Jennie says

    Hi Ashley,

    I find my peace by going out to the yard and looking at the trees when I really don’t have time to go any further. But when I do have time, I drive out to this one spot alongside the marina that is open and overlooks the river. I set there for hours just thinking and gazing out at the water and sky. This gives me inner peace, grounds and revives me.

  12. says

    I like #1 personally… I drink a cup of coffee every morning, but usually in a rush or while diving into work at my desk. Taking the time to sip and enjoy and just be would be a nice change to go along with the morning java. :) I also like to go for walks or sit in a park and just look around, take in nature, and enjoy the sounds. Helps me revive a little bit when needed.

  13. Sara says

    I find my peace when I look at water. I have several friends who live on the lake & I am welcomed to come & sit. As a child I spent every summer on the OR coast. The beach & ocean so peaceful.

  14. says

    Hello friends, thanks for the enthusiastic comments and great shortcut ideas! And thanks to Tia for having me as a guest blogger. Keep weaving those shortcuts through your day. For those of you who enjoy getting out in nature, if you don’t have the time you can close your eyes and imagine yourself in that setting. With a clear visualization, you can summon the feeling of actually being there. Wishing all of you peace! Ashley

  15. Maria Luisa Vidal says

    My shortcut to peace is thru prayer. After I’ve prayed I dont think of the problem anymore. I know that God will always be there to help me in whatever problem I have.

  16. Carol Huff says

    I breathe. Peace floods my spirit when I take time to be aware of my breath from beginning to end. I know that in the middle of my chaos, indecision, confusion, work, daily stuff as I sit in my chair to hunched over and to focused on the task, that my breathing has become very shallow and small. A few minutes of acknowledging the oxygen moving through my body brings me an inner peace and gives me time to align my body with its natural tendency. The time it takes for one breath can change everything.

  17. mary says

    Truly a miracle to receive your 10 tips this morning as I am receptive to an alternative to this morning’s “hamster wheeling” on a personal challenge. You “framed”, i.e., truly completed, several practices I have used so as to take them to another level. e.g., from shaking my hands off to shaking my whole body plus at the meaningful time of coming home; similarly with all water and going with the flow. Thank you. As for my own “tip”, I often
    use “all is well”, however I start out stronger at home and during my commute but then dribble by the afternoon…… again, many thanks to you, Ashley

    • says

      Hi Mary, thank you for your enthusiastic feedback. I’m so glad you were able to use my Shortcuts to enhance your existing mindfulness practices. “All is well” is a fantastic mantra. Maybe you could find an afternoon trigger such as visiting the water fountain or your walk to your car to prompt a renewed awareness of “All is well.” In peace, Ashley

  18. BOBBY says

    Thank you for your insight Ashley. I always use the phrase from George Harrison’s great music, “All Things Must Pass”

  19. Diane says

    I keep my printed copy of “The Upper Room” daily devotional under my pillow. I get back to the bedroom sometime during the day, lie down and read it, and if not at bedtime. Of the 10 shortcuts here, I love the idea of shakedown, shaking it all off outside and not bringing the tension inside your living space sounds great! Now I’m writing a note to post inside the garage door to remind me to do this before I enter, LOL.

  20. Michelle says

    I Dance to find inner peace. I love to go teach a class and just be in that moment at time, nothing else is bothering, my mind is clear. I look around and see joy in other people and how I have created that joy through dance and inspired others this makes me feel happy and peaceful. :) DANCE brings me to my inner peace.

  21. ReneT says

    I usually give myself 15 minutes in the morning to slowly awaken from a peaceful sleep, stretch, go through my list of all that I’m grateful for, then pray for those of my friends and family who are going through ‘stuff’ and need a blessing or two. Then I open the drapes and look out into my garden to get centered for whatever the day brings.

    Work always gets stressful so I find myself taking a few laps around the office and looking out to the world below from a 4th floor window. Seeing the traffic and the people rushing about below me reminds me that others may be busier than me to get to where they need to go…and I’m just an observer in their life. Standing still centers me back to the present.

    Great guest post…but then again, you always share the best with us, Tia! You ROCK! Thank you! :)

    • says

      Awww thanks Rene! That means a lot to me, knowing that you know that I share only the best (try saying that really fast, lol). So happy you liked the post! And love the habits you’ve got to tap into your existing peace and joy ~ appreciate you sharing xo.

  22. Kirsty H says

    I love the freeze-frame idea – I definitely need to practice that in my day more often. Like the age-old saying..take time to stop and smell the roses :) Thanks for helping me to slow down for a few moments and read the article too!

  23. Dawn says

    I work at a physically and mentally stressful job with mostly negative people. There are days I would rather not walk in the door. Before I get out of my car I take a coin with angels on both side out of my pocket and begin to pray for each of my customers and my co-workers, and then I ask that God makes me a blessing to all I interact with during my day.
    This one thing helps me to focus on my behavior rather than theirs.
    My favorite tips from this article are letting negativity wash over me, through me and around me, and also wishing drivers well at stoplights. This article is a keeper! Excellent tips that will begin to incorporate into my days. Thanks so much Ashley! and Tia!!

    • says

      Oh Dawn, I love your Angel practice! What an amazing way to start your work day and be so aware and intentional. You’re inspiring! Glad you liked the article and thanks so much for sharing ;)

    • says

      Your welcome, Dawn! What a great ‘shortcut’ and thank you for sharing it. There is no better way to engender a feeling of inner peace within ourselves than to direct love, kindness and good will toward others. Ashley

  24. says

    My favorite is #4 rest in peace. Often I’m restless just thinking of the things left undone that day. Being grateful for things is something I do in the morning and my day just flows along because it really does bring joy in my heart and it shows. .so doing this at night when I lay down to go to sleep will be different and I’m thinking it will be helpful so that I can rest in peace. Thank u for the article…that dog pictured in #4 was soo cute and made me laugh! :)

    • says

      Yes it will, Jackie! That’s my fave way to start and end my day! Thanks – that pic made me giggle so I just HAD to use it hehe. Big smiles :)

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