Dictionary.com defines serenity as the state of being calm, peaceful, or tranquil. In these tumultuous and uncertain times, serenity seems like the furthest thing from reality. Serenity isn’t an emotion that we feel based on our circumstances.
Rather, serenity is a state of being we must be intentional about pursuing and creating for ourselves no matter what our circumstances might be. Finding serenity might seem like an insignificant quest, but there are several science backed reasons why finding serenity should be a top priority.
Improved Mental Health
A meta-analysis of six random controlled clinical trials was analyzed to see if mindfulness combined with cognitive-behavioral methods such as positive thinking were effective at blocking depression.
The findings of this meta-analysis revealed that in up to 44% of patients experiencing depression those techniques reduced the relapse of depression, mirroring the impacts of antidepressants (Piet & Hougaard, 2011). A separate meta-analysis of 47 clinical trials found that meditation was able to decrease psychological stress, which could include anxiety, depression, and even pain (Goyal, et. al. 2014).
Stronger Immune System
Systematic reviews of various controlled trials showed that mindfulness and the pursuit of serenity has a significant positive impact on the immune system. The review noted the following positive immunological benefits related to the pursuit of serenity: lower levels of inflammatory markers, increased numbers of the immune systems CD4 “helper cells,” and preservation of telomeres, among several others (Black & Slavich, 2016).
Enhanced Memory & Focus
Psychological scientist Michael Mrazek of the University of California and colleagues examined the impact mindfulness and the pursuit of serenity could have on memory and focus. The study involved 48 students who were randomly assigned either a mindfulness class or a nutrition class.
After a period of four weeks, students were given assessments that tested their memory and focus The test results showed that those in the mindfulness class got better test scores in completely unrelated topics and improved their memory retention.
It appeared that those students who practiced mindfulness for 45 minutes, four times per week, for a period of four weeks were far more focused than their peers who participated in the nutrition class based on the scores. Mrazek specifically noted, “We found reduced mind-wandering in every way we measured it and improved performance on both reading comprehension and working memory capacity” (Association for Psychological Science, n.d.).
Science shows that the pursuit of serenity has the potential to literally grow the brain. A study conducted at Harvard University found that individuals who practiced mindfulness meditation as a means of pursuing peace increased the thickness of their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision making, emotional regulation, planning, and regulation of social behavior.
The study showed that just eight weeks of practice of mindfulness meditation showed an increase in gray matter in MRI scans (Lazar et. al., 2005). This seemed to show that seeking peace helped participants gain greater mental and emotional intelligence and a stronger, healthier brain overall.
Other research supports the idea that a brain that pursues peace is one that remains sharp and intact even as we age. A 2015 study published in the journal Mindfulness showed that as little as 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation a day resulted in a significant slowing of age-related cognitive decline. The study went on to show that the practice of mindfulness meditation helped to grow areas of the brain that tend to decline in effectiveness with age (Malinowski, Moore, Mead, & Gruber, 2015).
The pursuit of serenity has also been shown to lead to an increase in happiness. A study conducted challenged participants to focus on three things each day they were grateful for over an extended period of time. The study found that participants who did so reported greater happiness and overall satisfaction in their lives (Villarica, 2012). Essentially, the practice of daily gratitude fostered a sense of daily peace and serenity that led to general feelings of satisfaction with life and self.
The pursuit of serenity is one that will yield favorable results for all who choose to embark on that journey. The physical, mental, and emotional health implications of pursuing serenity suggest that if we make finding and maintaining peace a priority in our lives, we will experience enhanced joy, increased intellect, increased memory, and improved health.
Thus, we should aim to find ways such as mindfulness meditation to implement peace seeking practices in our lives on a regular basis so that we can remain in a state of serenity, and thus remain in a state of balance.
Association for Psychological Science. (n.d.). Brief Mindfulness Training May Boost Test Scores, Working Memory. Retrieved from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/brief-mindfulness-training-may-boost-test-scores-working-memory.html
Black, D. S., & Slavich, G. M. (2016). Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1373(1), 13-24. doi:10.1111/nyas.12998
Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E., Gould, N., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R., … Cramer, H. (2014). Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Akupunktur, 57(3), 26-27. doi:10.1016/j.dza.2014.07.007
Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Wasserman, R. H., Gray, J. R., Greve, D. N., Treadway, M. T., … Fischl, B. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. NeuroReport, 16(17), 1893-1897. doi:10.1097/01.wnr.0000186598.66243.19
Malinowski, P., Moore, A. W., Mead, B. R., & Gruber, T. (2015). Mindful Aging: The Effects of Regular Brief Mindfulness Practice on Electrophysiological Markers of Cognitive and Affective Processing in Older Adults. Mindfulness, 8(1), 78-94. doi:10.1007/s12671-015-0482-8
Piet, J., & Hougaard, E. (2011). The effect of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for prevention of relapse in recurrent major depressive disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6), 1032-1040. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2011.05.002
Villarica, H. (2012, April 23). How the Power of Positive Thinking Won Scientific Credibility. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/how-the-power-of-positive-thinking-won-scientific-credibility/256223/
Would you like to achieve inner peace? Are you exhausted by the guilt, pain, and resentment you have carried through life? Are you tired of responding impulsively, negatively or overreacting? If everyone was being honest, they would admit that negative moods influence them sometimes.
It doesn't matter how sincere you are, these old habits die hard. They aren't harmless bad habits; they are stealing your joy. It all throws us off-center and ultimately, it makes you unable to effectively cope with life.
You cannot find inner peace and tranquility when you don't feel great. That means you need to look after every aspect of yourself, spirituality, physically, emotionally, mentally, and intellectually. Look after yourself and your body will respond in kind.
The power of meditation cannot be underestimated. While experts may spend hours in meditation, you don't have to. Create a daily schedule that dedicates 10 to 15 minutes to meditation. Meditation is all about clearing your mind and learning to be present. As you meditate, your focus should solely be on your breath.
When you focus on your breath, it allows you to push everything else out of your mind. With every inhale/exhale, push negativity from your mind and embrace the inner peace and tranquility. Meditation is a great solution when you're feeling stressed out. It's something that you can do anywhere and everywhere, but make sure you dedicate that time to meditate quietly at home. Anything else you do is a bonus!
Mindfulness is not the same as meditation, though it's possible to practice mindful meditation. When you're mindful, you're fully present. You become completely aware of your sense of smell, touch, taste, hearing, and sight.
You can practice mindfulness when you eat, when you listen to music, when you take a hike. It's simply about engaging all of your senses to push everything else out of your mind. There is less time to worry when you're focusing on the reality, you're living in instead of thinking about what-ifs.
3. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is an activity that promotes inner peace and tranquility, similarly to meditation and mindfulness. There are a wide variety of deep breathing exercises that you can use. However, there is one I prefer when it comes to promoting inner peace and tranquility. I imagine my breath as colors. I assign a color to positivity and one to negativity.
As I inhale, I see myself drawing in white air, it's all positivity. When I exhale, I imagine a rush of black air being expelled from my lungs, it's all negativity. I inhale positivity and I exhale negativity. This simply adds an extra layer of stress relief to the deep breathing practice. The purpose of deep breathing to promote inner peace is that your mind is drawn to the process of breathing and it's life-enhancing properties.
Take a deep breath in through your nose, focus on your diaphragm and lungs as you do and hold it for a few beats before you expel it from your mouth. Repeat this five times.
4. Be True To Yourself
How can being true to yourself be an activity? When you are in harmony with yourself you will behave how you think and feel.
The problem comes in when you see yourself as one thing but are perceived as something else. You can use a notebook to keep track of incongruence. This is something you can correct if you develop self-awareness and try to act in line with your values.
If you want to promote inner peace and tranquility, then you need to focus on all of the positivity in your life. A gratitude journal is an excellent way to remind yourself of everything you love in life. Once you start writing out what you're grateful for, you will find it easier to see more positives. It's all about training yourself to be more aware of the positive things in life.
Are you tired enough of living your current life to make a serious change? It’s easy to be told to “follow your passion.” That’s great advice, if you could figure out where your passions lie.
There are many ways to find your passion, but it’s not necessarily easy. We tend to shy away from the things that are most meaningful to us. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s a little scary to live with that much enthusiasm.
Having a lot means that you can potentially lose a lot. It’s natural to want to play it safe and keep your 9 to 5 and your three weeks of vacation. However, few of us grow up wanting to work in an office, pushing papers around.
If you’re stuck in a life that bores you, resistance won along the way.
Luckily, you can reinvent your life. You can dare to be bold and different. And you’ll most likely find life to be much more enjoyable!
Use these strategies to find your passion and multiply the excitement and meaning in your life:
Expect the process to be challenging. When you determine your passion, you’re likely to feel elated at first. However, that feeling might reverse itself before long. There is some part of you that will rebel against your spectacular idea. Hidden fears will come to the surface. These can include fears of failure, vulnerability, rejection, inadequacy, and exposure. If you refuse to give up the fight, your feelings of resistance will eventually die down.
Know your values. Your passion has to be in line with your values, or it can’t truly be a passion. Make a list of your values. Take your time and do a good job. You have more values than you think.
Now, make a list of your favorite activities. It might be playing the piano, drinking vanilla lattes, writing, and teaching judo. Again, take time to ensure that you cover all the bases.
Be clear on your values and what you most enjoy. These will provide clues to your passion.
Look to your past. What did you want to do when you were a child? Why didn’t you follow through? Make a list of the things you enjoyed as a child. What did you dream about? What did you want to become and experience? Your passion might not be dramatically different from your interests as a child.
Use the power of your mind and a pen. Find an hour you can spend alone and in peace. Write at the top of a piece of paper, “My passion.” Now just write whatever comes mind. If you think to yourself, “This is silly,” then write “This is silly”. Just put every thought you have down on paper.
It might take 20 minutes or so to get all the garbage out of your mind before you get to legitimate ideas. Just keep writing. You’ll know when you’ve hit paydirt. Many people report the experience of tears running down their cheek when they finally write down the right idea. If you’re not sure, keep going.
Listen to your gut. Your passion won’t be the result of a logical decision. It’s the result of intuition. Trust yourself.
Are you ready to live a life filled with passion? Are you ready to risk your current level of mediocrity? Make a commitment to yourself to find your passion and make a difference in your life. Now is the time to act. The world is waiting for you to be motivated and engaged.
5 Ways Journaling can Create a Fulfilled Life
Do you want to live a happier, healthier and more fulfilled life? One thing which could help is journaling.
Journaling has become a popular form of self-discovery; helping people to identify what they want and more importantly – how to get it. Through regular journaling you can discover more about yourself and your goals than you ever thought possible. Not convinced? Here’s 5 reasons self-discovery through journaling is the key to a fulfilled life.
1. Journaling helps you identify with your inner thoughts and feelings
One of the main ways journaling helps with self-discovery, is it enables you to identify with your inner thoughts and feelings. Understanding yourself is key to living a happier, more fulfilled life. Journals allow you to write freely and openly. You’re free from judgement, which means you’ll often write straight from the heart and uncover things about yourself you never even realized. This help you to identify with how you feel, plus it gives you the opportunity to see how you can potentially change your emotional reactions. Giving you more control over your thoughts and feelings enables you to shut out any negativity and focus purely on the positive – helping you to live a happier life.
2. Journaling is an awesome stress reliever
Of course, writing things down also acts as an awesome stress reliever. It’s well-known that bottling things up can make problems appear much worse than they really are. Sharing them in your journal therefore, helps to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Stress affects absolutely every area of your life in a negative way. So, the first step to living a more fulfilled and happier life therefore, is to eliminate as much stress as you can.
3. Journaling helps you understand what makes you tick
Those who are truly happy and fulfilled, typically know exactly who they are and what they want. Once you understand exactly what it is you do want and where you want your life to go, you’ll be able to focus on making your dreams and goals a reality. Journaling really helps you to identify exactly what makes you tick. You can then use that to ensure you are living in accordance to who you are. Doing more of what you enjoy adds passion and fulfilment into your life.
4. Journaling motivates you to act
If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to achieve your goals, journaling can be an excellent tool. After writing down and identifying what it is you want, you can use the journal to determine what you need to do in order to achieve your goals. Once it is written out in front of you, it does motivate you to act. As you start working towards your goals and marking off your progress, you’ll gain even more motivation to continue.
5. Journaling encourages positive thinking
Part of your journal-writing exercise is to make a daily list of things you’re grateful for. Over time, this trains the brain to look out for the positives. Positive thinking has a major impact on your happiness. When you start to look at things in a more positive light, you’ll start to enjoy life a lot more. It’s also true that positivity breeds positivity. So, the more positive thoughts you begin the have, the more will follow.
These are 5 of the top reasons self-discovery through journaling is the key to a fulfilled life. It’s not something that’s going to instantly work overnight so don’t expect miracle results right away. However, the more you do it, the more positive effects it will start to have on your life.
Most of us can agree that positive thinking is important. It tends to make us feel better, be more productive, and reduces stress. The problem is our lives aren't always rosy. Crises happen - be it on a personal level or something more widespread. If you are struggling to stay positive and hopeful when going through tough times, try following these nine tips:
1. Keep Your Head out of the Sand
No matter what you are dealing with, ignoring it is rarely the answer. While ignoring problems might feel good in the short-term, it will sap your long-term positivity. Plus, many of the other tips listed here require you to acknowledge your circumstances first.
2. This Too Shall Pass
When you are in the midst of a crisis, it is nearly impossible to keep things in perspective. That said, you need to recognize that your circumstances are temporary. Things might seem dire at the moment but try your best to remember that "this too shall pass."
3. Make a Plan
One of the single best things you can do to maintain positivity during tough times is to make a plan on how to deal with it. When you focus on the solution rather than the problem, you will naturally feel more positive. You will feel like you are rising to the challenge.
4. Think About the Things You are Grateful For
Even during great personal turmoil, you still have things you are grateful for. When things get tough, it is vital to remember that there is good in the world, and more importantly, in your life. When you are struggling, take some time to list the things in your life you are grateful for.
5. Reach Out for Support
Keep in touch with loved ones and offer your support. Reach out if you need assistance too. When things are dire, it is always reaffirming when people pull together and help each other.
6. Take a Break
Sometimes our circumstances are so dire that we think about our problems constantly. It is OK to take a break. You can take a break from the news, social media, or other people. It might not be easy but taking a break from external stimuli can help keep you positive.
7. Journal Your Feelings
Journaling is a powerful tool in so many ways. By simply giving you a place to express your fears and concerns, a journal helps you maintain positivity outside of its pages. Do you know how good it feels to vent to a friend? Well, consider your journal as your best friend.
8. Focus on Things You Can Control
When your world seems like it is spinning out of control, you may feel helpless. One way to address this and stay more positive is to focus on the things you can control. Instead of fretting about things out of your control, focus on making sure you do your best job on the things you can control.
9. Embrace Distractions
Distractions are usually the worst. We are often trying to learn how to avoid or deal with them. They aren't that bad when you are struggling to stay positive in tough times, though. No matter how silly they seem, you should embrace distractions that bring you joy in tumultuous times.