The understanding of spirituality has changed a lot in modern times. Whereas in pre-modern times, spirituality was seen as part and parcel of religion, the two are often seen as separate. This is often because of the bad rap that religion has received. However, I see spirituality as the internal state between an individual and whatever it is that gives them a sense of significance, purpose, and coherence. In the same vein, I understand religion to be the practices that one does to sustain that state or relationship.
Nonetheless, spirituality is essential to each of us. It is the core that animates who and how we exist in the world. A well-sustained spirituality can become a source of resilience, reference, and joy in uncertain times.
Hereunder, I expand on six ways that you can better your spirituality as proposed by Wilmer and Sweeney in 1992.
1. Values: What are your key values? On what basis do you make choices? Feelings, popular pressure, regrets, excitement, or timeless values? These are your non-negotiables.
2. Beliefs: These could be religious or not but should help inform you on how to act when relating with yourself, others, and the world at large. Do you believe that you’re worthy, lovable, and able? Must you be loved by everyone and rich in order to be happy? Are you always right? Are other people evil or saints? Is the world a horrible place? Do you and others matter? How do you face the inevitable evil of life? Do you believe that you shouldn’t suffer?
3. Ethics: Is your conscience clear? Have you done things that you are ashamed of? Have you lost any sense of shame when you hurt others or do questionable activities simply because everyone is doing them? What is your basis for moral choices and actions?
Purpose and direction: Why are you here? Do you have a goal and commitment that goes beyond yourself to helping others and the world at large? If you were to die today, what difference did you make?
4. Optimism: This is having a sense that in spite of all the difficulties of life, there is something good in you, others, and the world. It is a sense of hope and confidence in one’s capacity to face suffering and disappointments. Gratitude is a beautiful practice to remain optimistic.
5. Inner peace: Peace is central to health. What bothers you? Peace comes from the wisdom that shows you to not worry about things you can control. Instead, muster the courage and humility needed to change them. Secondly, wisdom teaches you not to worry about things you cannot control but have the peace to accept them. Practices that help you sustain this inner peace such as meditation and nature walks become essential.