If you do not wish for world peace, beware! After reading this piece you WILL be fired up to bring not-for-profit happiness to yourself and others. This blog offers a user-friendly, but hidden-in-plain-sight method of how to achieve world peace through every individual or a majority of us acquiring happiness, Inner Peace or Peace of Mind. This is not about a Pollyanna “have no cares” kind of happiness. It is about developing inner peace.
So how will that work, you ask? Please allow me to walk you through what’s involved starting with …
The Definition, Need and Science of Inner Peace
What Is Inner Peace (IP)?
It is the same as peace of mind (PoM) and happiness. We experience happiness/IP/PoM whenever we can transform our mental and emotional reactions to achieve maximum positive or pleasant emotions and minimum negative feelings regardless of duration. It may range at different stages in life or situations from purely pleasurable to having a sense of life satisfaction.
Why Do We Need Happiness?
We are born with a need to be happy. Like all the emotional responses we have it helps us respond to circumstances in us and in the world. We just naturally enjoy being happy and so we pursue happiness.
What Does Science Have to Say about Inner Peace, Peace of Mind (IP/PoM) or Happiness?
According to scientific research reported in peer-reviewed journals (that ensure the research is authentic and accurate), a sustained state of happiness or wellbeing actually leads to a wide range of benefits to health, interpersonal relationships and successful performance in many societal contexts. For example:
- Andrew J. Oswald, Eugenio Proto & Daniel Sgroi have demonstrated that happiness makes people more productive and that lower levels of happiness is systematically associated with lower productivity.
- In their study Lyubomirsky, King & Diener asked the question: Does Happiness Lead to Success? The research results of numerous studies they examined show that happy individuals are successful across multiple life domains, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health. They further demonstrate that “that happiness … precedes [the] numerous successful outcomes …” In other words happiness brought about the benefits not the other way around.
- De Neve and Oswald used data from a large US representative sample of 15,000 adolescents and young adults to examine whether happiness preceded or followed wealth. They found that happy people grow up to earn significantly higher levels of income later in life. Interestingly the study also shows that even with children growing up in the same family, happier siblings tend to go on to earn higher income.
Further Scientific Research Demonstrating the Importance of IP/PoM for Social and Educational Competence.
- Research by Joseph Durlak with other researchers shows that happier school-aged children develop superior social-behavioral, mental-emotional, academic and life skills. The study examined programs, which directly address the elevation of positive affect (i.e. happiness) and programs based on SEL, the universal social and emotional learning (also called the “happiness curriculum”) involving 270,034 kindergarten students through high school students. The results are reported to show that these types of school programs increase not only students’ social and emotional wellbeing to a significantly higher level than schools that don’t but as well show notable improvements in academic achievement and student behavior.
- In their study titled: “Impact of stress reduction on negative school behavior in adolescents”, Vernon Barnes and others concluded that in the school setting Transcendental Meditation (an undisputed enhancer of IP/PoM) has a beneficial impact in lowering absenteeism, rule infractions, and suspension rates. The controls had a significant increase in the negative behaviors
Science also Confirms the Importance of IP/PoM in Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Life
- Chida & Steptoe reviewed 26 articles investigating mortality in initially healthy populations and 28 articles addressing disease populations to observe the relationship between positive wellbeing and mortality and concluded that positive psychological wellbeing has a favorable effect on survival in both healthy and diseased populations.
- In contrast, in a thirty-five-year longitudinal study Christopher Peterson and others found that the physical health of graduates from Harvard University classes of 1942-1944 at age 25, from ages 30 to 60 as measured by physician examination was related to earlier pessimistic explanatory style. That is, negative thinking in early adulthood appears to be a risk factor for poor health in middle and late adulthood.
- A National Demonstration Project conducted in Washington, D.C. tested the efficacy of the presence of a group of Transcendental Meditation experts in reducing crime as measured by FBI Uniform Crime Statistics. The demonstration study occurred during a two-month period of a near record heat wave when violent crime peaks. This period was when the number of Meditation experts increased from 800 to 4000. The study was a carefully controlled experiment (as protection against skepticism and to ensure scholarly status for publication, in the ‘Social Indicators Research’ journal). The results showed violent crime began decreasing and continued to drop until the end of the experiment, after which it began to rise again. The likelihood that this result could be attributed to chance variation in crime levels was less than two parts per billion (p < .000000002). The drop in homicides, rapes and aggravated assaults (HRA crimes) could only be attributed to the use of TM. According to the Report, “Importantly, when the research team analyzed the same period in each of the five previous years they found no significant decreases in HRA crimes in those periods.” In other words the 1993 results were a one-of-a-kind occurrence.
These and numerous other studies have contributed to the understanding that happiness is a set of skills, which people can learn to use. Moreover Science has now confirmed that by engaging in such regular practice to improve our mental state, we actually change the structure of the area in our brain responsible for those mood states and thereby preserve our PI/PoM.
The Importance of IP/PoM Is Reflected in Peace & Nonviolence Programs in Several Universities
Here are a few examples:
- Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies – U of Rhode Island
- The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education – Stanford U.
- The College of St Benedict and St John’s University’s Peace Studies Department
- Northwestern University’s Department of Psychology, which also focuses on research pertinent to IP/PoM (e.g., trust and cooperation, pro-social action, altruism, aggression).
So far much more attention is directed at peace building and group conflict resolution rather than at the individual’s proficiency with IP/PoM. Nonetheless results from the studies of Happiness continue to garner respectability and interest from many universities.
Not a single study in my search has refuted the efficacy or importance of IP/PoM. As such decision makers in all areas of society in countries all over the world have ample encouragement to incorporate happiness goals into policies and activities. The leaders in government, business and various organizations however need us, the people, to urge them to include IP/PoM plans in their election platforms and organizational plans so everyone will have access to happiness.
Now we know specifically and generally that IP/PoM has power to improve performance in the world of business, grow required academic and social skills among school children transform and allow people to live better and longer lives while also deterring destructive inclinations in society. For these reasons alone it is worth pursuing the goal of acquiring and institutionalizing IP/PoM.
I have to ask. Do you agree with no less than roughly 80% of what you’ve read so far? If not then go back to review your objections. If you agree however, there’s more. And that is how IP/PoM fits in with world peace.
How do we go From Inner Peace To World Peace?
First, Why Does the Problem of Achieving World Peace Continue To Be Difficult to Solve
We can put people who contribute to the problem in two groups: Those who benefit from social-political unrest, discord and war; and those who cannot see past potential obstructions to peace or don’t know how to bring about world peace. The two groups are complex and by far the largest proportion of their members is not even aware they belong there. I’ll explain.
In Group 1 are those who benefit from social, economic and political unrest, dissension and war in these ways:
- 1st point: Because the vast majority of us wants a certain level of material prosperity and security, society has normalized greed, so that people do not see their actions as greedy but as trying to get what’s available to them or what they deserve.
- 2nd point: Classic examples of economic prosperity, that is people with larger homes and luxurious lifestyle in the community right up to billionaires, motivate us to find ways like they did to acquire the things we feel we too need, which thereby makes us blind to the effects of the relentless pursuit of material wealth.
- 3rd point: Some people try to use power to acquire prosperity and others vice versa. To such people the two methods are interchangeable and therefore indispensable.
The result is that people in this camp do not connect the dots to recognize that their prosperity need and attempts to satisfy it is no different from and sometimes directly support that of the manufacturers of weapons of war, the goals of politicians who do not want to lose what they have; or want more and so endorse war or strife, powered by fear or machismo as they ride the waves of hate, outrage or sentimentalism; or of the military decision makers/strategists who start with preventing some activity and slide into winning at all costs. All of these people from the least to the greatest are aiming for one thing: material or economic prosperity and security. Because many want a greater share than others, people compete and more often than not, opportunities are gate-kept and strategies are used to obstruct or limit access, which create the ever-present risk of dissatisfaction, resentment and retaliatory backlash, all caused by competition to get more. Security is needed primarily to protect people’s prosperity and their continuing ability to acquire or retain economic status. In participating in these activities many people do not recognize they are (and would even argue they are not) part of the problem, from socio-economic and political dissension to war, and not the solution. In other words unless their motives are friendly and have a goal of peace, the people in Group 1 cannot bring about world peace by competition.