Spirituality and religion are different and yet interrelated. Spirituality is essence and religion is form. Spirituality comes from one’s inner self and is often expressed as religious beliefs or practices. It may also be expressed as Zen, meditation, passion, kindness, support, and love. In addition, Spirituality can be the driving force behind creating better work-life quality and balance in our lives. Some steps you may want to consider in this process include:
1. Clarify Your Personal Innermost Values
The underlying motivation for those activities in life that give us the
greatest joy, enthusiasm, and sense of satisfaction are our innermost values. Our innermost values are a reflection of who we are when we are being honest within ourselves and authentic in relationships with others.
Our innermost values are often clarified when we are forced to make difficult choices created by life experiences, such as the importance of family when work life becomes overly demanding, the onset of illness, an operation, exhaustion due to excessive work, the loss of interest or enthusiasm for work, or little or no time for Boy and Girl Scouts, little league sports activities, or things that we simply do in behalf of others. These are activities that reflect values we cherish most: family, self, work, and service. Take 5 or 10 minutes to clarify for yourself the 10 most important values you have among these categories.
2. Balance Your Personal and Work Responsibilities
Once you are clear about the values that are most important to you (through values clarification), decide what activities naturally follow. For example, if you need to take care of yourself by being selfish sometimes --- do so! Learning to say “no” is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Yet, it is one of the most difficult skills to master. Remember, you can’t help anyone else if you haven’t taken care of yourself.
Be thoughtful about the importance of family activities: time with children, spouse, parents, or others. Are you spending quality time doing meaningful activities that enhance communication and relationships? Be careful of the trap of simply “doing-activities,” such as movies, shopping, or other paying activities. Sometimes, the most meaningful quality time is having a heartfelt conversation --- and it’s free!
3. Be Kind To Others
Practice understanding and compassion for other people, particularly those who are a regular part of your life. Life is so much easier and less stressful when its free of conflict. Much of the conflict we experience is the result of our expectations and intolerance of others. If we stopped to consider the history and experiences of others, we would probably be just like them --- this understanding is wisdom.
How often have gotten upset about something someone did, like not meeting a deadline, not living up to a promise, being late, revealing a confidence, or violating integrity or trust. If we stop to focus on ourselves, we would probably discover that we have also done similar things in the past. And perhaps, our intolerance is about ourselves! This realization is the beginning of compassion.
4. Embrace Personal Growth
Personal growth is the result of self-introspection. Although personal growth is uncomfortable at times, it’s a requirement for being a human on planet Earth. Learning to distinguish between a disagreement and a personal attack is the result of personal growth --- but many of us don’t make that distinction.
Personal growth is simply understanding those underlying motivations that result in counterproductive behavior, such as continual conflict in personal relationships with those we care about. Personal growth is also about stress-reduction and peace of mind. Practical ways of experiencing personal growth include, reading and thoughtful introspection, support friend/groups, audio tapes, seminars, or simply “learning from life.”
5. Discover Your Passion
As we dig deeper into ourselves to explore questions such as, “why am I here?” “what special talents do I possess?” or “how do I want to be a difference?” we often discover our life purpose. This discovery can come as a child or a retired adult. There is no good or bad time to discover your passion. The difficulty arises when you are doing just fine (or not) and you suddenly discover you are “compelled” to do something else!
The longer the inner desire to do something else is denied, the greater the misalignment of your mental self and inner spiritual desire. This is a problem. The conflict arising from this misalignment is deposited in the body --- which eventually shows up as a chronic condition, severe illness, or possibly something more serious. In other words, our inner desire will not be denied or simply go away. A very prominent lawyer gave up his very lucrative practice to become a maker of non-traditional furniture. As a result, he no longer takes medication for stress and high blood pressure.
6. Go For The Moon?
Now that you know or suspect what “it” is, should you live your passion? No one can answer that one except you. It commonly involves making a difficult choice; at least at first. However, once you cut your ties with the past and fully focus your energy, time, and passion on the future, things may begin to fall into place. As Goethe is quoted as saying “once one commits to his or her passion, all sorts of support will come to his or her aid that he or she could never have predicted.” In other words, committing to your passion is a leap of faith in yourself. Where faith refers to your “inner knowing” that failure is not a possibility.
Before “going for the moon,” you might explore, in-depth, the following statements and questions.
Take time to explore your passion. Consider how it might be done where you presently are. How does the desire match your talents and experiences? What would be the consequences if you pursued it? Are the consequences real? At the peak of my career as a university professor and research scientist in chemical physics, I decided to resign and establish Innovations International Consulting with no outside funding. I also know of others who have made similar transitions. The major lesson I learned was that everything I had done to that point was all preparation for my new career direction.
Integrating spirituality into your day-to-day living using the suggestions above can lead to work-life quality and balance as well as a personal sense of overall well-being.
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