Is spiritual health an important aspect of your overall wellness and what does it mean to be spiritual? Quite often spirituality is confused with religion. Individuals can be both spiritual and religious, but it is also possible to be spiritual without being religious, or to be religious without being spiritual. Unlike religion, spirituality is not defined by rules, but by personal growth and choice. It’s consistently linked with exploring inward, rather than seeking validation of the unknown through a group of people or an institution with common religious practices.
Spirituality is an expansive concept, with capacity for many perspectives. As a general rule, it encompasses a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and commonly includes a search for meaning in life. So, what is the importance of spirituality?
LIFE TAKES ON NEW MEANING
Discovering ‘the meaning of life’ is one of the fundamental reasons why spirituality is vital to many people. The search for a greater meaning and ‘something sacred’ that is bigger than us all inspires people to strive towards becoming a better person. Reflecting on who you are can, in turn, expand your knowledge about what human existence means in a greater sense. As a result, spiritual people often stop and savor life experiences – big and small. Spiritually rounded individuals may be more conscious of the humble, daily activities and therefore have a greater experience associated with the smaller pleasures in life.
BOOSTS CONTENTMENT AND HAPPINESS
People with heightened spiritual health typically display a positive outlook, a sense of self-worth, clear values and self-acceptance. Those who may need to reevaluate or work on their spiritual wellbeing may possess feelings of loss of meaning, self-judgment, emptiness and conflicting values. Spirituality is a mindset. The comfort and satisfaction in believing that everything will work out according to ‘a plan’ is fulfilling and promotes a sense of peace. People who adopt this mindset are naturally inclined to have an optimistic approach to life and accept things for the way that they are. This attitude to life breeds contentment and less worry – in turn, happiness subsequently follows.
ASSISTS IN MAKING SUCCESSFUL CHOICES
Individuals who approach the realm of spirituality generally focus on being/becoming the best person they can be. Placing importance on living the best version of yourself naturally encourages you to consider your actions, behaviours and choices. Spirituality cultivates both compassion and concern for the world around us, which is influential in a person’s everyday ability to make honourable choices and to avoid unhealthy behaviours.
OFFERS HOPE IN HOPELESS SITUATIONS
Having faith or belief in something higher than yourself often promotes confidence and comfort in what seems like a hopeless situation. Age old spiritual teachings can support people in their healing from painful experiences and offer light in moments of darkness. One spiritual teaching explains: “If we can compassionately remind ourselves in moments of falling down that failure is part of the shared human experience, then that moment becomes one of togetherness rather than isolation. When our troubled, painful experiences are framed by the recognition that countless others have undergone similar hardships, the blow is softened.”
Spiritual people are gracious and show gratitude for the positives in life, however small. Psychology has demonstrated that expressing gratitude is associated with many positive emotions and life practices – such as optimism, generosity of compassion and overall vitality.
INSPIRES PEACE AND PROMOTES STRESS RELIEF
Introspective exercises such as meditation or prayer are strongly associated with spiritual awareness. They are great stress-relievers, that successfully cultivate peace from within. Meditation naturally works with the inner self to train the mind and spirit to reach a relaxed state, which often promotes the development of compassion and serenity. When an individual has refined a sense of internal comfort and spiritual wellbeing, everyday trials and tribulations will have little influence on their reactive thoughts or responsive behaviour. In turn, they will feel and project peace to the outside world.
To explore your ‘spiritual wellbeing’, you can ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have a distinct sense of purpose and meaning in life?
- Do I feel in harmony with the world around me?
- Do I feel at peace with myself?
- Do I prioritise moments of relaxation in my daily life?
- Do I have acceptance of the views of others?
- Do my values guide my decisions, actions and behaviour?