12 Physical & Spiritual Habits That Block Your Deepest Inner Joy

The traps we set are often of our own making, but there are ways to clear them out.

thoughtful woman in a simple blouse, in front of an ethereal background cesar fernandez dominguez / shutterstock / canva pro

There are many dozens of ways to disturb your inner peace. Inner peace rests deep within you, in that quiet core of your being. Any disturbance from the outside can pull you out of that state. And yet anytime, anyplace, you have the potential to go back inside and be at peace.

The challenge is to maintain that focused calm while at the same time being active and facing the outer world.

Together we will take a look and ponder some of the ways which destroy our sense of peace. And there is also a surprisingly simple way to summarize all the complexities of the quest for peace, inside and out. I’ll mention this one at the end.


So what is the “dirty dozen” of the most powerful things to knock you out of that inner peace?

RELATED: The 5 Steps You'll Take On Your Journey To Inner Peace

Here are 12 habits — four physical, four psychological and four spiritual — that block your joy & peace

Physical habits

First, there are purely physical habits that sabotage our inner peace. 2000 years ago the Roman poet Juvenal wrote of the quest for a "mens sana in corpore sano" meaning "a healthy mind in a healthy body." You see, even the Romans two millennia ago knew that a healthy body is one of the requirements for a stable mind. Inner peace is unlikely without it. So, what are the top physical habits most likely to prevent your inner peace?


1. Lack of movement and exercise

We don't have to be a performance athlete, although that doesn't hurt. But our body is made to move. Without regular movement our muscles, heart, circulation and nervous system atrophy. Inner peace will be hard to maintain without your body being in decent physical shape. Think also of maintaining a good posture which engenders self-confidence and positively affects overall functioning. These are some of the foundations on which inner peace can rest.

2. Unhealthy eating

They sabotage various physical needs on which inner peace will rest. Too many unhealthy foods can slowly destroy the prerequisites of a healthy body in which a peaceful mind can reside. For example, processed foods and preservatives contain unhealthy ingredients. They extend shelf life yet badly affect bodily functions. Some ingredients such as sugar are even specifically formulated to be addictive and get you to eat more.

3. Addictions

No matter if it's alcohol, too much caffeine, or drugs — legal or not — all will slowly grind you down. To cultivate inner peace, we must find better ways to relax and feel good. You can add an overdose of screen time and game playing too. Unfortunately, Silicon Valley and the gaming industry have also found new ways based on human psychology to make their apps and games addictive. That way they can control your mind to make maximum profit. How can you now find peace?

4. Poor personal hygiene

This is neglecting yourself in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable and lowers your confidence. An unclean appearance and unpleasant odors will also strain your relationships and lead to more isolation. Time spent on self-care can be relaxing and rejuvenating creating a sense of inner peace just by itself.


This last point reminds me of a brilliant young man with a great university education. He started his career in a prestigious position. Then he made himself independent in his own small business. But he began to neglect the cleanliness of his dress and person.

While he was still terrific at his work, he began to lose first the trust and then the business of his best customers. Then the level of the people around him began to sink. He neglected himself more in a vicious cycle. After a decade and a half his business had deteriorated and he became more and more isolated. His health began to suffer. He became a shadow of his former self.

RELATED: How Choosing Conscious Living Creates Inner Peace Every Day

Psychological habits

The roots of the word psychology stem from combining the Greek psyche (meaning “breath, the principle of life, life, soul”) with — logia (from the Greek logos, meaning “speech, word, reason”). Psychology is concerned with the study of the mind and behavior, both deeply linked to emotions. So, what are the habits of the mind and feelings which keep you away from being connected to this inner sense of peace?


1. Negative self-talk

This is allowing a constant flow of thoughts that depreciate yourself and criticize what you do. That habit will incessantly grind down your mind and feelings to a point that permanently limits your ability to connect to inner peace. Allowing that stream of negativity to continue automatically will also lead to more and more negative self-destructive actions. Breaking that habit and the negative mindset which comes with it must become your most urgent priority.

2. Holding grudges and resentments

This creates an increasingly toxic mindset. With that comes anger and all kinds of negative attitudes. It will not just poison your mind but also your relationships. And those “friends” who support you in this habit are the kinds of friends you can be without.

3. The need to always be 'right'

Wise people often ask the thoughtful question “Do you want to be right or happy?” There are many points of view that are reasonable, and which one is “right” can be a matter of opinion, circumstance and context. Your insistence that yours is right will limit your ability to see the value from other points of view. Thus it limits your learning and sabotages your own path to wisdom and relationships with others. Perfectionism can be another expression of this drive.

4. The need to compare yourself

This also blocks you from feeling peace inside. You tend to feel constant jealousy and a need to compete. This habit saps energy and happiness. This is unlikely to find peace and your mindset becomes more negative with time.


RELATED: The Harsh Truth I Had To Face Before I Could Be Happy

Spiritual habits

1. Lack of forgiveness

This will grind down a person's soul. It often leads to a never-ending train of thoughts about the insult one perceives. The resulting emotions generate the most negative cocktail of stress hormones over time harming neurophysiology. More importantly, it blocks the path to inner peace. People who don't forgive do not realize the self-destructive nature of their habit. Holding on to their resentments and grudges wounds only themselves.

Forgiveness is not doing a favor to the person who caused the insult. They don't care at all or may not even know of the complaint. Forgiveness frees the forgiver and lifts that immense burden from their shoulders. It is the greatest favor you can do for yourself. Only then can you reach inner peace. And there is one more great benefit. Meditate on this and its promise: only if you forgive others can you truly forgive yourself.

2. Lack of gratitude

Gratitude is a great uplifting power. It can take you out of many negative emotional states quickly and powerfully. Lacking gratitude impoverishes your soul and spiritual life. But worse, it can spoil your health and relationships. Each gratitude felt or expressed is a warm enriching element inside yourself and your perception of others. It helps avoid materialism and competitiveness. And most of all it creates an inner sense of joyful peace in that very moment. You can make it a habit by practicing gratitude just like you would practice strengthening your muscles. Make it a daily exercise. Writing it down further reinforces this routine.


3. Judgmentalism and criticism

Judgment and an attitude of criticism can also close the gate to inner peace. We live in a world of duality. There are always opposites, and it is our nature to have preferences and to judge what we do not want. The trick is to be aware of that tendency and to be aware of the natural aversion to the opposite of what we want. This isn't easy. But just to become alert to it is helpful in avoiding needless criticism which again blocks the path to peace.

4. The need for control

This fear-driven urge for control actually sabotages our ability to plan and think ahead, to be in natural control of our life. Being overanxious with control can actually cause our life to spin out of control. Acceptance is an antidote against this poison. Become vigilant about your need for control and look for the fear which is hidden underneath. As you work with this fear your inner peace can shine through again. Practice awareness and acceptance. Then look gently at your fears and find effective ways to defuse them. Thus, you regain true control and be at peace.

RELATED: The #1 Trait Of People With Forever Peace Of Mind


A personal story about inner peace

Thinking about forgiveness, a personal story comes to mind. I had worked for many years with an outstanding superior whose trust and support I had gained. The replacement appeared to me less capable and quite distracted from our plans and goals. Constant critical and dismissive thoughts began to fill my mind. And unsurprisingly my attitude and work effectiveness suffered. In a spiritual study group, I learned an intensive way to work with forgiveness. I practiced it on my new boss. In my own view I did not notice any change in my work or professional relationships. Just a gentle sense of more ease and more peace inside.

But something must have changed outside too without my notice. Because, within a few weeks it became clear that my standing in the organization had been raised. My new boss involved me in more critical projects. And by year-end, my compensation benefited markedly. Work inside can have many valuable effects even outside in our material existence.

In closing this discussion, I want to mention a simple yet powerful way of understanding all these challenges. We can choose either love or fear. Fear is the driver behind all problems, often hidden. It is the true root cause. And love is its antidote. It is not easy most of the time. But by learning to be aware of the choice we have in our minds, we can gently favor a thought of love when fear is there. It will shift us inevitably to more strength and peace.

RELATED: 7 Invisible Habits Of People Who Seem To Glow From Inside


Fritz George Sauer, MS, is an expert and coach in science-based stress management, author, and experienced business manager and consultant. In his work, he shows how stress is far more destructive to personal and professional lives than commonly understood, and offers effective, fast and targeted solutions.