You may recognize the title for this post as the title of an Elvis Costello song. It’s coming to mind to me lately as I explore ways to move us out of the chaos we’re all experiencing. For some reason, talking about peace in the workplace hasn’t ever been a thing. We talk around it (emotional intelligence, engagement, loyalty…) But I think the time has come to call it out more directly.
In this post I talk about why now, more than ever before, it’s important we find ways to restore our sense of inner peace. I’ll look for clues in ancient texts and give you some ideas for ways to get there.
These days, when I scan what is happening in our world I often think “How did we get here?” Put simply: People aren’t experiencing a whole lot of peace, love, and understanding in their day-to-day lives.
What I do know is that the rise of technology and the resulting global economy has exposed and magnified a lot of the ills that have always been there. They’re not necessarily new, we just see them more now. They’re kind of always in our face.
And as a result of this shift, what I also see is the effect this onslaught of that new expanded knowing has had on not just humanity as a whole, but the people I interact with every day: my family, my friends, my clients, the people in my community… We’re all trying to make sense and find our way to belonging and succeeding in this world, amidst this sea of information, and we can’t quite get there.
In a nutshell: our combined state of being is not trending upward.
In my work, I hear a lot of examples of all of the different ways people are experiencing their inner struggles. Common topics (as you might expect) are things their careers, commutes, families, finances… Really, you could probably just watch the playback of your own past week. We’ve got a lot of things that keep us up at night. And that’s before we turn on the news.
It’s my goal to help people learn how to end the inner struggle and restore inner peace.
Truth be told, I come by this naturally. I’m wired to help people figure things out. Starting quite often with myself.
To get to the bottom of this inner peace thing, my work brain is asking questions like:
- What’s the root cause of our inner struggles?
- What’s a universal experience of inner peace?
- How can we alleviate that gap that’s creating our inner struggles and instead experience more peace?
Key: Our sense of struggle versus peace starts with our emotions.
It starts with our emotions.
Since our experience of human life is mostly an emotional one, I like to start with a look at the emotional landscape. The Center for Non-Violent Communication has done some great work in identifying common human needs and feelings.
The way they explain it (which makes complete sense) is that there are feelings we experience when our needs are met, and feelings we experience when our needs are not met. As you’d guess, when are needs are met, these feelings are “good” and when they’re not, these feelings are “bad.” You can check out these lists here.
If we think of our inner struggle coming from unmet needs, that points us in the direction of asking questions like “What can we do to meet these needs?”
As an example, any of you struggling to attract and retain employees have likely grappled with this question. The typical approach has been to apply something from the outside (an office gym, a good title, benefits) to create the feeling on the inside. Guess what? It doesn’t work. Why?
Through the lens of emotions, I have found that moving from inner struggle to inner peace is an inside job. It can only be accomplished when the individual chooses to activate more of the “good” emotions, than more of the “negative” emotions.
Let me explain more with an intentionally silly example.
If I’m excited that you give me a BMW as my company car, it’s most likely filling my need to be valued and belong. I might believe that driving this car will show the world that I’m worthwhile, and then I’ll be fully accepted and admired. Then my Instagram followers will finally surpass 100… So a month goes by, and I realize that I don’t have any more clout, I’m not suddenly charismatic… I’m still just me. Now I’m back in lack. The car wasn’t the answer. Maybe I need a Tesla…
It’s a vicious cycle.
Where did it all begin?
Back to my root cause analysis. Were we humans always like this? This is where I like to dig into ancient texts for clues. In this case: the Book of Genesis.
Quick recap: Adam and Even were hanging out in the Garden of Eden. They seemed to have everything they could possibly need; it could even be said they had inner peace. Then, snake walks up to them one day (because it still had legs and could) and tempts them with the prospect of becoming all-knowing like their Creator. They bite, and the rest is history.
They ran screaming from the garden, and we’ve spent the rest of our lives trying to get back there. No more inner peace. More like Neo from “The Matrix” times 1000.
Again, it was the knowingness that resulted in the inner struggle.
Here’s my take:
Key: It’s not the knowing that’s the problem. It’s what we do with the knowing.
For hundreds of thousands of years, we’ve been basking in the unmet needs side of the equation. What do we do to maintain our safety? What do we do to build and protect our tribe? What do we do to conquer our enemies or threats to our existence? The basic notion being that if we can acquire all the power, only then will we restore inner peace. #winning!
People, can we all just agree that our lives are not a monopoly board game? Can you see that this approach has not furthered humanity’s quest for peace? If you die with all the chips, you don’t win.
The truth is a well-lived life is really about finding a way back to Eden while you’re still alive. And the only way to do that is to recognize that Eden is not a destination, but an experience, and that experience lives within you. You are the only one who can get you there.
And it starts with getting back to emphasizing more of the emotions on the “needs met” side of the equation – not just for you, but for everyone.
The real key is to recognize that you already know the entirety of what is possible for the human experience, and then in this knowing, choose to create more good and positive experiences than negative and evil ones.
Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
If you run a business, keep this in mind:
- How do employees and customers experience your corporate culture? Does it create a true sense of belonging? Is their trust, and transparency, and an effort to create more for all?
- Does your cradle-to-grave process create more for all of those involved? Does it replenish, educate, support, and respect?
- Does your product or service feed your customer’s sense of lack, or build their wholeness?
- Do you choose alliances based on how well they’re aligned with your values, or just based on the financials?
- Do your employee practices promote individuals who create an atmosphere of acceptance and sharing, or do you look for the one with killer instincts?
If you are an employee at a business, keep this in mind:
- Do you view your coworkers as your competition or as your collaborators and supporters?
- Do you look at your job as a rung on your ladder to greater power, or an opportunity to bring your unique value to solve a problem or create something worthwhile?
- Does what you’re doing fuel your sense of lack, or does it fuel your spirit of generosity?
- Do you feeling like you’re wasting your time, or making good use of your time?
If you’re just living your life, keep this in mind:
- Do you support businesses, industries, and individuals that align with the values of creating a world that allows people to feel safe, secure, appreciated, and whole?
- Are there ways you can choose to shift the way your experiencing your own life to feel for of the positive emotions?
- Do your daily words, choices, and actions demonstrate what one could expect to experience fi they were living in your Eden?
- Do you promote and support individuals and causes that generate a feeling of caring and acceptance and possibility in the world, or those that fuel hate and separation?