Living a Spiritual Life

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What does it mean to live a spiritual life? Most of us probably have an idea of what we would be like if we could just be more spiritual…we picture our ideal “self” doing respectable things and acting in a respectable way. Not all of us want to know how to become a yoga teacher. But how can we define the spiritual life, and what steps can we take to get there?

First, we must sharpen our definition of the term “spiritual”. Vague definitions are poisonous to our spiritual growth.

Think about it. You probably have a vague notion of what “spirituality” means to you, but the lack of any specific qualifiers really limits your growth as far as any actions you can take. So let’s pin down all of the things that a spiritual life should entail:

1) Deep connections with others

2) Seeking wisdom

3) Striving for growth

4) Drawing closer to a higher power or nature

5) Tolerance and forgiveness of others

Deep connections with others

When we think of someone who is really spiritual, we might picture a man meditating in a cave, completely isolated from his fellows. In real life, we get deep meaning from our interactions with others. All of the great spiritual teachers would agree with this–for example, take Jesus, Ghandi, or Mother Teresa. All of them advocated working with others, even the sick and suffering. In particular, helping others is critical, as is carrying a message of hope to them. While many will attach religious connotations to this, it simply isn’t necessary, because we connect with others at a human level. In other words, keep it simple and just reach out and offer help. Most people would agree that those living a spiritual life connect with others in a helpful, meaningful way.

Seeking wisdom

Seeking wisdom implies that a person is on the path to wisdom. They have some wisdom; they are seeking to gain more. This is not a mad rush for knowledge. Instead, the idea of seeking wisdom is about making genuine growth and gaining real insight into our lives. People who claim to know it all or have superior knowledge are generally not regarded as being spiritual–they are instead preaching in arrogance. Seeking wisdom necessitates some degree of humility. The spiritual life is one of exploration.

Striving for growth

The spiritual life is a fallacy if someone has stagnated and is no longer growing. Spirituality is growth. This speaks of discipline; of demanding progress of ourselves. The great spiritual leaders always pushed themselves. If you want to feel like you are living the best life that you can, then you will need to push yourself in much the same way.

Drawing closer to a higher power or nature

Whatever your source of strength is, drawing closer to it will only make you stronger in your recovery. This is because your connection with a higher power is an internal mechanism–something that you have control over and can develop and cultivate.

Tolerance and forgiveness of others

Someone who is living a spiritual life does not hold deep grudges and resentments against others. They do not harbor anger in this way. Instead, we need tolerance and patience with others, and this comes from a genuine humility–knowing that we have probably acted out in the same way that others might be doing. We forgive ourselves and others around us. We hold our own behavior to a high standard, and grant leniency to others who are trying to grow.

Potential blocks to the spiritual life

Living a Spiritual Life
Photo by notsogoodphotography and nattu

1) Inner turmoil

Anger and fear are the enemies here, the only difference is in how we classify these destructive emotions. Resentment towards others is a huge block against our spiritual growth, so we must actively work to eliminate those ill feelings. Self pity can be just as destructive, and overcoming that is critical as well.

2) Toxic relationships

Anyone who is full of hate and negativity can block us from the spiritual life if we spend enough time around them. The real challenge is not only in avoiding people like this, but helping them to grow and change as well. Stay away from constant negativity if you can help it.

3) Resolving inconsistencies

These would be questions such as: “Can I still be spiritual if I never pray to a higher power?” Sometimes our preconceived notion of what represents “spiritual” can block us from taking positive action. The whole point of this article is to motivate people to take specific actions in a couple of general areas (prayer and meditation, improving our relationships, mindfulness, etc.) so that they can grow spiritually. Don’t let a certain idea or hang-up about something stop you from making progress. Find your own path, do your own thing.

4) Self sabotage

This can occur often with recovering addicts and alcoholics. We can sabotage ourselves and our own recovery, seemingly for no apparent reason. Sometimes it seems like self-destruction is just built into us. This is most likely due to low self esteem, with the idea being that we don’t deserve a rewarding life in recovery.

If self sabotage stems from low self esteem, then the solution would obviously be to rebuild self-worth. While that is whole other topic unto itself, my philosophy leans less towards the positive affirmations and more towards the positive action route. There is plenty of potential for support and relationship-building within the 12 step fellowships, with ample opportunity for rebuilding self esteem through the connections made there.

5) Deterioration of physical health

This one surprises most people, but I have seen it over and over again, all around me, while living in recovery. People who have been maintaining sobriety and growing spiritually have occasionally fallen ill, and suddenly everything goes to you-know-where. When people become seriously ill in recovery, bad things seem to happen. Sometimes this happens as a result of seemingly necessary medication, other times, the sickness simply incapacitates them from making those important connections with others.

The connection between inner peace and your everyday life in the real world

There is a saying around the tables of AA: “You can’t think your way into good living…..you have to live your way into good thinking.”

This quote explains how we achieve the spiritual life–through living the principles on an everyday basis. This is not a case where we can simply change our thinking overnight and suddenly wake up the next morning as a spiritual guru. Instead, we achieve a spiritual life by living this thing. It’s not as much about our thoughts and opinions as it is about our behaviors and our lifestyle. It’s less about our beliefs and more about what we actually did today. The spiritual life is about action.

Ask yourself: What is my perception of “the spiritual life?”

What does “spiritual” mean to you? Consider commenting below and tell us how you define spirituality for yourself….


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  • Jack

    I really like your open minded interpretation of spirituality, which I find is very healthy for us. Being oepn minded we can always learn…

  • Tuck

    Thank you for your wisdom and information – I just found your website and am enjoying it.
    I still struggle with alcoholism, but have been sober for longer than I ever have been. One thing I found is that before I could find my spiritual path, I needed to be QUIET. I needed to sit and calm myself and open myself up. Things started to fall into place after that. I have used drink to deal with difficult emotions, to numb myself. I continue to work towards “floating on the waves of turmoil”, rather than flailing around and fighting. Being quiet for a while each day has saved me. Thanks again – you’re providing a wonderful service.

  • Patrick

    Thanks for the comment, Tuck….I needed that reminder to be quiet, to sit in the silence a bit and allow the meditation to smooth out my day. I have not done this enough lately, so thank you so much for the reminder.

  • susan

    I just searched for seeking a more spiritual life and found this page. I have some resentments against members of my family and realise that they are quite negative towards me and my daughter. Its always our fault etc. I will try and pray for them but am finding it hard to never know what to expect with them. We dont live close by and dont see each other often. Im thinking to just let them go and get on with my life without them. What do you think. Reading what you said about not being around negative people has made me think this way.

  • http://spiritualriver.com/living-a-spiritual-life claudia

    What is most important to me is that spirituality is a very private thing when one is so new at it. Keeping others out of it in the very beginning gives you a better chance of reaching the height that you deserve.

  • Deko arinola hope

    Hello thanks for your explanation on spritual life it has really helped me and has given my life a significant meaning.i pray the lord blesses you with more wisdom.

  • paul

    i just was searching for more information about spirituality and am thankful for your article

  • http://yahoo.com ramir mitra

    im searching for a topic that i will share to our group next month and i think spiritual growth is best and im blessed that this site gave me more insight about spiritual…

  • Hitesh Patel

    These are really the exact defination of Spirituallity. It is all about slef inner soul development & It would really help us for improving the weelbeing.

    It’s really change the living of standard, if we stay connected with these principles contineously and I think we must do it.


  • kip

    me likes.

  • atnaf

    what is your religin

  • MishaKellog

    Spirituality to me is when I am wearing my insides on my outsides and staying far away from materialistic living.

  • Sean

    Hello, I find your website helpful, but I usually find it hard to connect with others (as you stated earlier one must do in order to grow). I will agree with you that this view is true (as the only thing certain is that we have each other) but I find it difficult to connect with people due to our society. Now days, it appears people hold themselves higher than others, which upsets me greatly (and I feel this resentment could be related to my growth being stunted) and I was just wondering if ANYONE had any advice. I know acceptance is big, but I am puzzled at how to accept peoples (and I’m sorry to say it) vein outlooks on life. The most pain ( or compassion) that I feel is for these people, and my dissconnection with them. I was just hoping for some guidance in this area.

  • http://throckwisp raymond hodges

    to be spiritual is to understand there is a spiritual world that we cannot see, but understand the existing of by the force we feel in our inner being, our spirit connects with… like flying a kite at night, you cannot see the kite… but you feel its presents by its pulling, its life force… so you know it is there… and when you believe and really tune in, then you can see by the results that start taking place… there comes the miracles… to BELIEVE is to KNOW

  • http://livingaspirituallife MAELLE

    for me, spirituality is living with Christ,, I always search readings about this and thanks for this page it adds more wisdom…

  • Lance Kraft

    For me, spiritual living is the process of shrinking my ego down to a useful size. My ego is the way I see the world: what I think, feel, want and dislike. Everything else is God. According to my ego, my opinions are the only thing that matters, because my ego thinks that it is God, when in fact the opposite is true. God is the empirical reality that exists beyond and in spite of what I think. Learning how to listen to the universe instead of my ego is what I would define as spiritual living.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, realy am glad tht i found ths page, its inspirng. livng a spiritual life, ls livng a life byond th ordinary or comon life tht many lve ths days. dynying urself al tht easily entice and livng acordng to ur call thru Christ jesus . AMen.

  • harison

    i find this thing more helpful for me to understand the true meaning of spiritual life. i will try n follow the first steps and then see myself through.. am blessed…….. thank you very much GOD bless you

  • Chris

    To me, living a spiritual life means being ONE with everything. Connecting with People, Animals, Plants, Earth, and Spirit. Having 1 hand grasping physical reality, and our other hand grasping the unseen world of spirit. Having both of our hands holding on to these at the same time, makes us ONE. Don’t forget, the key to being Spiritual, is creating your own road to walk upon. There is no per-determined road, You are the one who makes the road that you will walk.

  • http://www.spiritualriver.com/living-a-spiritual-life/#respond brett

    Spirituallity came from within. The day I found out that is not tied to religion my spirit soared. My spiritual growth is based around meditation and self hypnosis. I engage others with kindness and compassion. Dig deep, love, peace and composure are the mainstays of my mantras. A belief in god and the knowledge that what god is, is beyond my intellect. This has freed me. God bless you all and may the spirit of god (whatever that is) bring a meaningfull existance to all. Spiritual growth comes from within. PEACE

  • William

    Spirituality is something that i continue with to enrich my inner child with. Yet it is still quite new to me , i know that within my higher power there is a force greater than myself that is to move me forward in my recovery. I find this websight is a gifted valuable tool that i will continue to research on a regular basis.

  • Rach

    This brought so much clarity to me! Living through your heart, I believe is living a life of truth! Thankyou

  • Racheal McGlynn

    I loved the article. I found it simple but sweet.

  • http://nil Chanchal Sreekumar

    I like to live as spiritual life and positive way of thinking and help other also in t5he way of spiritual

  • ashis kumar rakshit

    to become spiritual we should follow six things in our life
    1 surrender to God
    2 truth
    3 purity
    4 honesty
    5 compassion
    6 tolerance

  • RyanYng

    spirituality to me is being connected to all beings as an energy and realizing that we are all the same. No less no more known to the cosmos we are all equal.

  • http://spiritualculturegroup.com Lawrence

    A beautiful site,full of hope,love and promices,I too needed help with the bottle,and got it,and I am ever so grateful,for the love and support of others,it takes courage to walk through those doors,but what you’ll find on the other side is to beautiful to express,you’ll find you.peace love,and happiness I wish for you and yours, Blessings Lawrence

  • tracey

    I am interested to live spiritual lifestyle, and I am interested in being a spiritual counselor or a Life coach.

  • Tina Tidwell

    My concern with that is part of being spiritual is also to have a forgiving heart always. Whether it’s family, friends, coworkers or peers we should always be quick to forgive. no matter how others treat us, you should always be quick to forgive. In the end your heart and mind is clear. They have to deal with there own issues. Just something for you to think about.