Some Simple Rules for Inner Peace
by John Darling
I wish my parents had told me ten great rules for happiness
which their long experience in life had taught them.
I wouldn’t have listened, of course.
Anyway, I offer these to my children,
who will doubtless learn them as I did,
Walk. A lot. Our bodies were evolved by walking, with just a little running thrown in.
Aerobics, pumping iron, distance running, etc., eventually hurt you. When you walk, you can
still think and see lots of interesting stuff. The body loves it. It brings peace.
Bathe, don't shower. A bath open your pores so all the dirty sweat can get out. It relaxes your
muscles and you can get away from things. Showers feel like a task.
Get over the past. Also the future. All the fun is in the present. Regret and fear define past and
future tripping. It’s hard, yes. And once you get going, the present just keeps opening up to
immense pleasure and mystery.
Dump the lame language. It matters. Thought creates reality. Say “and” instead of “but.” (“But” just negates everything you and they were saying and thinking.) “I want” has much
more power than “I need.” Ditto “won’t” or “don’t want to” over “can’t.” “Should” really bites.
Use “I” when talking about what you know, rather than that endless, abstract, “you” thing. And
prune those pain-n-death cliches, like “dying of thirst.” Say “yes” a lot. Say it as the first word
of the day. Yes is the great enabler, door-opener and mind-opener.
Complain only to the one who can do something about it.
Screen news. You learn almost nothing from crime/disaster stories. Search for the amazing,
good ones, like a new missing-link skull from Africa or a politician telling the truth.
Get funny. Laugh and smile, even if you have to force it at first. It kicks in. Yes, you do have
the power to shift your mood and attitude.
Accept all traffic and parking situations without disappointment. Think of time spent in traffic
as time to look upon the present with happiness.
Do frequent rituals of thanks. Thank all the little and big things: thank mint tea, thank the
birds and grass, thank coffee and clouds, thank summer, thank your teeth, etc.
Forgive it all. C’mon, just do it. Immense benefits result. If you believe they hurt you, then
you don’t have the power and can’t go on. It doesn’t mean you’re a sap and they can walk all
over you some more. It means you’re taking the power to use it for learning.
If you do therapy, remember to stop. Therapy is a time of discovering grief, fear and anger and
learning to defend yourself. The purpose is to love better. It’s easy to start defining yourself by
your wounds and talking it up forever. Therapy is so you can get over the past, grow and keep
Pain, mistakes and loss are vital to growth and learning. Apparently, dead people in heaven
can avoid these. We can’t. Think back on your worst pain, loss and error. Notice that the best
times happened soon after. Pain is nature’s way of telling us to let go of what’s not working.
We go on to what works and are happier.
Admit mistakes. Apologize.
Promise yourself a cookie. Offer yourself rewards for just about everything you do, even if it's
only a video rental and some chocolate. It’s a fun game.
If you’re partnered, still take your own space and do your own thing. Keep a big part of
yourself for just you. The partner doesn’t want all of you anyway. Take classes and trips only
you take. Have friends only you have. Have secrets only you know. In freedom, you grow and
change, so you bring new, exciting stuff to the partner.
Easy with the Puritan stuff. In general, you can trust your instincts. TV and sugar may be bad,
but if you get rigid about it, you just feed a reverse process where your body learns to fear its
environment, so stress builds up. Relax. The Romans had a saying, "Too much religion causes
evil." Too much anything causes it.
The Best Things in Life Aren't Things. Enough really is enough. Living simply opens up the
Find the “off” button. Be still. Just sit. Watch your thoughts happily. It’s a mystery how it
works, but meditation leaves you with unaccountable strength and peace.
Lose the third-party talk. Gossip may seem exciting at first. It may seem to create intimacy
with another or to make oneself seem wiser. In fact, it’s a tremendous drain on personal power,
even if you’re talking about distant figures, like politicians or celebrities. This one discipline
seems to make the soul especially happy.
Sex is the big gift from nature and the gods. Enjoy. By the way, this is how children get here.
That’s the other big gift.
Without malice, tell the extreme truth. It will cost you most of your friends. It will also attract
new, much better friends and you won’t have to spend so much energy managing your story and
trying to be someone you’re not. Especially, tell the extreme truth about yourself. It’s really
laughable once you start. You’ll be slow to criticize others after that.
The gift of getting older is realizing it doesn't matter what they think of you. It only matters
what you think of you. That's a good definition of self-esteem. Also of happiness. We’re here
to be happy.
John Darling, M.S., is a writer and counselor, rebirther,
hypnotherapist and Gaian priest in Oregon.