It seems simple enough, this First Rule of Inner Peace. You first get neutral about whatever outcome you want. The effect is immediate and startling.  You feel centered and at peace, even about issues you stewed over for years.  Once it happens, only your perspective has changed, nothing else.  You suddenly have an uncanny ability to see clearly what you need to do.

Surprisingly, seeing clearly gives you a new-found courage to take action, including not acting at all.  You feel nervous as a torrid hummingbird the first time, but you do it anyway.  Something compels you forward.

Strangely, unexpected things result.  They are unexpected because you were unattached to what might happen next. At the very least, others notice that something is different about you this time.

You repeat this extra step the next time you have a major troubling moment.  When you do, you feel that same peace.  Courage and confidence follow closely behind.  Once you get the hang of it, getting unattached first becomes a habit, like checking the mirror before you go out.

Of course, there is always a new trouble that comes along.  But your experiences are teaching you to lean on this ancient spiritual principle.   So you chip away at your troubles, one at a time.

Soon, mountains become molehills.  Life is becoming an adventure. Boredom doesn’t exist for you.  You are becoming a person who is at peace with yourself. Could this be your greatest achievement in life?

You didn’t realize you were not at peace.  You lived with low-grade anxiety like a smoker constantly clearing his throat.  It was your normal.  You didn’t know life could be any other way.

What finally got your attention?  Was it noticing how many vacation days it took before you felt relaxed?  Was it an unexpected health problem?  Was it your increasing habit of numbing out with a couple of drinks every day?  Maybe your marriage fell apart, or you lost your job.

Something happened to make you aware that you are rarely at peace.  Your stress caught up to you.  It was a harsh awakening, like the painful birthing of a baby.  Your life will never be the same.  Someday you might be glad. But not yet.  Long-cherished dreams feel threatened.

Rock’n roller Bob Seger once sang, “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”  Once you are aware, there is no turning back. You can’t unknow what you know.  The question is, what will you do about it?

You need courage. Who doesn’t?  It takes courage to face the hard questions in life.  This is the first hard question:  Are you ready to change?

Change is frightening. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, goes the old saying.  There is so much that your current life depends on.  Money is a big one. What if you change something and your money is negatively affected?

Even bigger is what makes you feel good about yourself.  No one asks, who are you?  They always ask, what are you?  You are a title, a craft, a role, a wallet.  You run a business. You sell real estate.  You are a mother or a father and you like it, dammit! Is there anything wrong with that?

Funny how just asking the question stirs up thoughts and feelings you didn’t know you had.

You have dreams too.  You would love to have that cottage, that paid down house, that trip to Hawaii and the college education for your kids.  What if making changes puts those dreams in jeopardy?

There are a million reasons not to change.  There’s only one true reason to change.  You are not at peace with yourself.  You have pushed that nagging awareness aside for a long time.  Now, you are finding it hard to keep it buried.

Something wants out from within. You will only let it burst forth when you are afraid something worse will happen by not changing.  Don’t worry, you are not the only one.