Let’s face it. Life can be really, really hard. Brutal sometimes. An unexpected loss. A new diagnosis. Expectations and hopes left unmet. Financial challenges. Relationship changes. Work failures. Uncertainty about the future.
As sure as I am that life is full of profound joy and contentment, I also know that it is rife with hardship and struggle. This whole being human thing isn’t easy.
There is no way to totally do away with pain or difficulty in our lives. But we can change how we respond to and bounce back from it. This quality is called resilience–the ability to overcome and even grow from adversity. Resiliency has been a growing topic of study for healthcare professionals across every discipline for the last several decades.
We’re learning that people who cultivate lives of resilience in the midst of struggle (rather than merely trying to avoid pain) report the highest levels of happiness, health and wellbeing. So how do we as Luminaries learn to cope with stress and difficulty in a way that allows us to move forward and thrive? How do we make ourselves “bouncy” (aka: resilient to life’s challenges)?
Thankfully, decades of research have outlined several key factors everyone can incorporate into their daily lives to increase resiliency. Today I want to talk about one core factor–spirituality. Without exception, spirituality is a huge component of resilience. We see this over and over in the research. Spirituality is deeply personal and people can define it in many ways. I’d like you to consider the following definition:
“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.” – Brene Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.
I know that for some, conversations about spirituality can be a loaded with challenging feelings and conflicting beliefs. But here’s the thing, it’s not about one’s religious beliefs or lack thereof. It’s about your own personal and unique approach to spirituality. Your own approach to pursuing connection, love, compassion, and reverence. So it doesn’t really matter whether you live out your spiritual approach to life in a church, mosque, temple, art studio, music concert, fishing hole, park bench, surf break, mountain top, or quiet corner of your home. What matters is that your spirituality cultivates a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to your life.
To me, it’s in the ordinary moments, when we put our personal values into action on behalf of ourselves and others. This is when we encounter the most profound spiritual expression.
Bringing food to the hungry. Sitting with the grieving. Devoting time to engage fully with the people we love. Opening up to different perspectives and cultures. Softening toward ourselves when we just can’t seem to get it right. Listening fully to another rather than rushing to fix or solve the problem. Choosing empathy and compassion instead of judgment. Lingering with reverence in the moment when you witness something beautiful unfold. Easing into uncertainty and difficulty while steadily moving toward what matters most to you. Practicing gratitude for the simple and connected moments of our day. Allowing curiosity, wonder, and rest to relieve our heavy adult shoulders of the burden of always knowing and doing. Delighting in the natural beauty that surrounds us. Allowing the weight of our worth to matter. Holding space for the mystery of a power bigger than us.
This is spirituality in action. This is the foundation for resiliency– drawing upon the spiritual principals of love, compassion, and the interconnectedness of us all to help us bounce back from the inevitable ups and downs of living.
Our spiritual practices lived out in ordinary everyday moments accumulate to give us perspective, meaning, connection with others, and hope in the midst of pain and struggle.
We would love to hear from you on this topic! How do you connect best to your own spirituality? How can you put your spirituality into action today?
Resources and References:
Brene Brown’s research on Wholehearted Living www.brenebrown.com
Role of Spirituality in Health Care http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1305900/
Spirituality’s Influence on Health https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/spirituality
Overview of Resilience http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx
Health & Spirituality http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/publications/jh_bayview_news/summer_2014/health__spirituality