I believe in the spirit…
That is to say, I believe in the “immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person”. In short, your character, personality, essence, etc.
Within the context of this definition, I believe all sentient beings have one. Including animals. (It’s one of the things that keeps me vegan.)
As I covered in my post about the meaning of wellness, wellness is about achieving balance in all areas of your life.
That means mental, social, occupational, environmental…it’s all linked.
And it can all play a major role in the shaping of your character, or spirit.
But I think these days, we’ve become too attached to the idea that religion governs our morality…I’m sorry, but to me, that’s bullshit.
Organized religion comes from different cultural understandings of similar human values. At least, that’s how I’d characterize it.
And you’ll notice that people tend to commit to one religion without committing to every aspect of it.
I’d say it’s because organized religion is too finite. There are so many variables out there, so many obstacles that can be thrown at you…and you’ll never know how you’ll handle it until you’re in it.
Personally, I see value in all of them, making it hard for me to commit to one (see my post on Omnism). They all have things that I like, they all have things that I don’t like.
Some might argue that you can’t pick and choose what you believe is moral, but I think history would tell us something different. There have been many great things done in the Name of God, but also some really awful things.
In the same breath, you can say that people with no belief in God have done some really awful things, but also some really great things.
It all comes down to what people use as the driving force behind their intentions.
Whether you believe in a God- or gods- or not, your character is what you make it. No one and nothing outside of you is responsible for how you conduct yourself.
Which means that regardless of what you do or don’t believe, you are responsible for improving upon yourself and following your moral compass.
With that being said, here are some ways that you can go about doing that without committing yourself to a steadfast belief system.
Keep your mind open…WAY open.
Change is hard. Opening your mind to it is even harder.
That being said, you just have to do it. You’re going to have a pretty hard life otherwise.
The only thing that’s guaranteed to us is impermanence.
Nothing lasts forever… ‘Forever’ isn’t really a concept that the universe understands. In my opinion, it’s something we’ve come up with to measure an unfathomable amount of time for us.
Things change, whether we want them to or not. We can resist, or we can accept and make plans accordingly.
Prepare yourself to be uncomfortable.
There’s no easy way around it…it’s going to suck.
Remember when you were going through puberty and your body literally ached in random places?
Well, those pains never really stop. Physically, maybe, but mentally? There will always be the potential for discomfort if you’re growing.
So get ready for that. Even with an open mind, you’re bound to run into a few things that knock you on your ass.
Challenge your own point of view regularly.
Even though change is uncomfortable, don’t shy away from it.
In fact, put yourself in situations where your viewpoints will be challenged.
It’s like a personality workout…there’s ‘good’ pain and then there’s ‘bad’ pain. Learn to recognize the difference. More on that later.
If you’ve ever worked with a personal trainer, you’ll know that working out isn’t always fun. Sometimes it’s downright awful.
But your trainer is still going to push you, even when you feel like you’re going to break. I’m no trainer myself, but I think it has to do with endurance. The more often you push yourself, the better you’ll be able to identify when you can go further than you did the last time.
And soon, you’ll be able to do it no problem and it’ll be time to move on to a harder exercise.
Your brain is no different than your muscles in this regard. The more you challenge yourself, the more resilient you’ll become.
Read up on everything you can think of, even if you don’t agree with it.
Once you’ve upped your mental endurance, you can challenge yourself by learning about viewpoints that you disagree with, even strongly oppose.
Just learning about different beliefs can open your world up so much…diversify you in ways you never thought possible.
Keeping in mind that you don’t have to adopt any of these beliefs for your own. Take what resonates and leave the rest.
You may find that more resonates than doesn’t.
Practice some serious compassion, even for people that you strongly dislike.
Ok, I ain’t even gonna lie to you… this one will test every fibre of your being.
I mean, there are people I love that do things that, at first, feel unforgivable, unconscionable, plain wrong. Never think I’ll be able to forgive them, not in my wildest imaginations.
Then I actually start to wonder: why did they feel they had to do or say what they did? What goes through their minds before they do stuff like that?
It’s then that I realize all human reactions stem from something.
I think of the times that I’ve been the happiest and the times that I’ve been the most miserable, and I recognize that most humans are capable of feeling these things.
Maybe I don’t understand the thoughts or actions, but I understand the feelings and the need to act on them.
Because of this, I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt in my heart, even if I can’t condone it in life.
Which leads me to my next point.
Learn the difference between ‘different’ and ‘toxic’.
Even though I talk about having compassion, I am NOT saying to put yourself in toxic situations for the sake of ‘mental toughness’.
Practicing compassion for someone who’s harmed you is not the same as condoning bad behavior.
You shouldn’t sacrifice yourself trying to save somebody else, no matter how much you may love them. They have to learn how to be accountable. Your only job is to be as kind as you can be, holding them responsible without malice.
That may mean leaving some people behind, while still holding a love for them in your heart.
Diversify your circle with people who politely disagree with you.
Now that we’ve learned the difference between ‘different’ and ‘toxic’, start hanging out with people who are ‘different’.
There are ways to love someone without loving everything they do. In fact, it’s good for you to establish and maintain these kinds of relationships.
Talk about things that you agree or disagree on. Learn what makes people tick and why.
Best book you’ll ever ‘read’, in my opinion.
Stay worldly, stay humble.
Enriching your soul is all about staying grounded.
You don’t know everything…you never will. Doesn’t matter how many books you read or how many people you talk to…there’ll always be room for improvement.
Socrates said that the wisest man on alive knew that he knew nothing.
It’s a philosophy we still hold, particularly in Western society. The top professionals with the highest degrees can only maintain them by continuing their education. It never stops.
So the next time you think to open your mouth in a debate, don’t. Listen first, digest it for a few seconds, then respond.
This is the way to remain a student for life…to remain a student of life. Never stop learning and never delude yourself into thinking that you know everything.
You will be sorely mistaken.
What can YOU do to enrich yourself today?
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