I love writing for Thrive Global because I get to share my thoughts and ideas on what makes for a powerful, happy life. However, it also enables me to explore topics that I had forgotten to consider, and this weeks is no exception. Thrive Global asked me “How do you make spirituality part of your life?” and I found myself in contemplative thought thinking am I spiritual? Does it impact on my life? And why should it matter?
And I realised with a full on light bulb Eureka in the bathtub moment that spirituality means a lot to me. It impacts on my life in so many ways and just thinking about it heightened my awareness to why it matters to me, why it impacts on my life and how that helps me do what I do.
I have never described myself as over religious, however, I do care about having faith and living a life of love and caring for others. Love is a guiding force in my life and means so much to me. That I feel loved, that I give love to my family and friends and even to strangers in the street.
I don’t think it is by accident that I’ve rescued at least 10 dogs in the last few years from the road, or ended up taking someone’s shopping home for them even though I’m the one with Lupus and should probably not be doing so much of this!
Even this morning I connected someone who’s suffering to someone that could help, and another person said: “I know you are so busy and yet you made the time to check I was okay, I can’t thank you enough.” Do I do these things to get the praise? I did worry that I did, and realised that if no one ever says thank you again to me, just knowing I cared and supported someone is enough.
What does this have to do with spirituality? I think I realised that spirituality is not found in a church or a book, it is found in us. That deep-rooted belief that we are connected. If anything, good has come out of social media it is that I can have a chat with a person on the other side of the world and share a few words that could change their mindset and their negative thoughts into ones of positivity and greatly impact on their day. We all can be part of that. And that fills me with an immense sense of joy and love. The Dalai Lama said that spirituality is connected to the qualities of the human spirit such as; love, compassion, patience, forgiveness, and an intrinsic sense of responsibility and harmony.
Thus I asked, “Am I spiritual?”
“Why?” I further questioned.
I feel connected to things I can’t see, have never been near and to people all around the world who will never know I exist. And I again I checked “Do you need them to know you exist?”
No, I thought just that they need to know I care and love them.
And why does this matter?
I realised because life can be tough and lonely and I want all people to feel that internal feeling I get from knowing that I’m not alone. We are connected and the more we talk about this the more we can spread that message and the fewer people will suffer alone. Suffering is eased when it is shared. Negative emotions and tough times are easier to deal with and turn around when we can feel other people care too. The hardest thing about mental health illnesses or long-term illnesses is that fearful lost feeling that no one gets it, no one cares and you are alone. When you find your life is tough and nothing seems to work, spirituality is what enables you to lean on the right emotions and qualities that enable us to survive and keep going. When we lose our spirituality, the things that we feel connect us to the world around us can revert to negative emotions and thoughts and as a coach, I’ve seen the damage that negativity can cause to our actions and ambitions in life.
Spirituality reconnects you even when you are feeling deserted, unloved and alone. It can be the one thing that enables you to have faith that things will get easier and you can get through this.
So, I asked myself how do I look after my spirituality?
I’ve learned to love myself. Not in an arrogant “Wow, aren’t I gorgeous way!” but in a “Self-love Mandie is awesome just the way she is” way. How can we connect to others and enrich others’ lives if we can’t do that for ourselves? If we don’t practice self-love how can you love others? This is not something you need ever share with another person on the planet, however, if the person in the mirror is not loved by you it will impact on the way you see the world, connect with it, engage with it and impact on it.
I realised that my own spirituality means I take the time to listen to the rustle of the wind in the trees, to watch the stars twinkling above my head, to hear the birdsong. I respect what I need in life. Not fast cars, or designer shoes, but space, time and peace. And by creating the space in my life to nurture myself I’m able to nurture others too.
However, it’s not always been like that. I felt physically choked when I shared a Facebook Live on World Mental Health day as I talked about how I used to speak to myself when I suffered from a severe mental health illness. Although the reason I could get through those words is because I’ve learned on a deeper level to listen to who I am, respect that person and nurture her. My spiritually has come out of the worse year of my life when I tried to kill myself twice and I’m very grateful for this opportunity.
So what next? I think we all have a part to play in this. If we all learn to care deeply about one another and bring love, compassion, patience and forgiveness to one another then that is a powerful thing. And we need not start big, let someone cut in the queue at the checkout. Let someone out in the traffic jam. Message someone who seems to have gone quiet on social media. Simple little things that take seconds out of your day could have a lasting impact on that other party’s day. Kindness and compassion seem to be missing from our world. Respect and understanding for different views need to be our natural choice. We are all beautifully different and by bringing these qualities into your life you can feel happier. After all, that is what spirituality does isn’t it? It makes us feel calm, happy and joyous. And tiny acts of kindness could spread a little of that. What an awesome idea that we could all be part of a better future?