On Losing Inner Peace

Learn to be content with what you have. Aspire for more but without begrudging those who already have. Cherish every moment granted because it will not stay forever.

On Losing Inner Peace

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God’s gift, that’s why we call it the present”Joan Rivers


There is no tomorrow and that is why promises made for tomorrow are hardly kept because tomorrow never comes. Every moment that passes becomes an immediate past, never to return. So if there is no past and no tomorrow then what we are left with is only the present. Such is the illusion of time! Yet we continue to bask in the ‘glory’ of the past and aspire for a ‘brighter’ future, conveniently forgetting value of the present. With each breath, life is calling out to everyone to live because the minute that breath ceases, life ceases to exist too. 

Majority of the humans are so ensnared between the crushing walls of yesterday and tomorrow that they fail to appreciate today. High anxiety, whose lethal claws force themselves into their hearts and minds, deny them the ability to enjoy the available time. What is gone is gone and the future holds no certainty then why disrupt the now? 

This definitely does not imply that a bohemian lifestyle is adopted gratifying carnal demands only, which are limited to the extent of physical capabilities which in turn are dependent upon many factors inter-connected with other human beings, events and circumstances.

Today as of yesterday too, the human race is suffering from both mental and physical ailments. In every household there is talk about medicines, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, tests etc. with people forced to take certain drugs after reaching a specific age. Whether it is the case of erratic blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, allergies, every second or third person, one comes across seems to be hooked onto one medicine or another.

To make matters worse, the accelerated pace of life, fast circulating news items with real-time pictures and videos act like seismic waves that originate in one place but their effects spread far and wide. In the same way human beings get affected by whatever is happening around and by whatever people are doing. Surprisingly, these are things over which they may or may not have any control yet they can both lift the spirits or push one into melancholy. 

Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment writes: “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry - all forms of fear - are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”


Human body is extremely fragile, susceptible to diseases, accidents, immobility and what not and that can hamper the ability to live life to one’s deepest desires, then how can we make the best of what is now? By adopting the idea of peace with one’s self. Lao Tzu beautifully explains this concept in the following words: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

Take for example, today’s families. With the exception of a few who might consider themselves fortunate, most of the households carry the empty nest syndrome with their loved ones working and living at great distances from their homes. In this situation what can parents do?

Reminisce the past when their little ones ran around the house causing a hullaballoo, pray for a future event that can help to revive that atmosphere or make peace with the changing times and start life afresh, considering it a second chance to fulfill the unfinished dreams of early years—to contribute positively to life and send favorable vibes to the universe. Slumping into a state of depression can be detrimental not only to one’s own body and mind but could also cast its blues on the surroundings.

We are, who and what we are. There is no need to look at oneself through the prism of other people or their circumstances. “What will others say?” is something that forces one to suffer torture, angst, humiliation and deprivation. The hurt comes with trying to please everyone around in accordance with their ideals yet end up in earning a bad name. Hurt sets in when things are done in the hope of success, but failure sets in. All this is difficult to handle and requires what sages keep on harping: “Make peace.”

Learn to be content with what you have. Aspire for more but without begrudging those who already have. Cherish every moment granted because it will not stay forever. Appreciate the love of your relatives and friends because there is too much animosity around. Stop viewing cynically or with suspicion someone’s kindness. Serve others because in return you too would be served.

The unrest we see around us is on account of the restlessness human beings are afflicted with today. The urge to possess new gadgets, branded goods, latest model cars, jet-set lifestyle, palatial bungalows, penthouses, international travel etc. without so much as struggling hard enough to mobilize resources to own them; has resulted in mental distress and irritability.

“Inner peace is the key: if you have inner peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace and tranquility...without this inner peace, no matter how comfortable your life is materially, you may still be worried, disturbed, or unhappy because of circumstances.” - Dalai Lama XIV

The writer is a lawyer and author, and an Adjunct Faculty at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), member Advisory Board and Senior Visiting Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)