The Importance Of Spirituality In Life REVEALED!

what is the true meaning of spirituality

Science has revealed some staggering facts about the importance of spirituality in life and what it means to be spiritual in 2021.

If you want to be happy and healthy, spirituality can help. And yet, the masses still turn their noses up to spirituality. 

Many people confuse spirituality with religion, and some think spirituality is a cult. Although to be fair we have had cults like The People’s Temple and The Branch Davidians. However, such cults are rare (for example, read my article on Maum Meditation].

In truth, legitimate spirituality is more common than cults. Consider the New Age movement, Kundalini Yoga, and astrology. 

And these spiritualities are crucial because of the importance of spirituality in life.  Just consider how much better your life would be if you achieved spiritual awakening. 

Let’s investigate just what spirituality is and why spirituality is important in life. 

The True meaning and importance of spirituality in life

Mark Cobb, author of the Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare says the definition of spirituality has changed. Formerly, it referred to specific spiritual practices. But today it is a universal term relating to our individual beliefs. 

Philip Shledrake agrees. In A Brief History of Spirituality, Shledrake says that the modern definition of spirituality is a personal thing. Our spirituality could include esoteric and religious traditions. However, it can also include personal beliefs. 

Ultimately, spirituality simply means that you have a code of beliefs and morals. 

And hopefully, you do. Because there are many reasons why spirituality is important in life. 

Science on the need for spirituality 

Numerous articles, including Christina M. Puchalski’s The Role of Spirituality in Health Care [1] reveal significant health benefits of spirituality.  

As spiritual people, we are happier, healthier, have better perspectives, and are more enlightened. We are even likely to live longer according to Brian Walsh in an article for Time Magazine. [1]

But it goes further than that.

Indeed, science has even found benefits of spirituality for serious health issues. For instance, fighting diseases and overcoming depression.

From neuroscience to positive psychology, scientists have proven repeatedly that there is genuine importance of spirituality in life.

One reason why spirituality is important in life is because of spiritual practices.

Consider:  

  • There are more than 100 benefits of meditation, which was originally a spiritual practice.
  • Yoga is obviously incredibly healthy 
  • Tai chi and Qigong are two of the best exercises for blood pressure. 
  • Many spiritual protection techniques have their benefits too.

girl doing spiritual practice

Here’s Why Spirituality Is Important in Life 

1: Stops stress and depression

Research published by MentalHealth.org shows that spiritual people are more able to cope with stress and depression.

Spiritual people know how to stay positive in adverse times. Consider how huge that is. If you have the power to overcome stressful events you will have excellent mental health.   

We all go through hard times. Exams, the death of a loved one, career setbacks, divorce. But spirituality makes it easier to get by. 

When we go through rough patches in our lives, spirituality can help. It reminds us of the bigger picture. Because of this, spiritual people are less likely to dwell on negatives. They know that painful moments are temporary.

Research on spirituality and mental health:

  • The National Institute of Health conducted a study that revealed the importance of spirituality in schools. They showed that Canadian college students who were connected to their campus ministries suffered less stress during tough times. [2]
  • In 2002 Raphael Bonelli, et al. [Depression Research And Treatment] studied 147 independent investigations covering 98,000 people. They found that, on average, the more religious a person is the less depression and stress they suffer. [3]
  • In 2008 researchers studied 115 articles. They found that 92% of the articles linked religiousness to improved mental health. [4]
  • In 2012, the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that religiousness reduces the chance of depression. Catholics and Protestants had a 76% lower chance of suffering from major depression. [4]

2: Spirituality is important for life-expectancy

There are significant health benefits of spirituality according to Harold G Koenig, a psychiatrist at Duke University. [4] Because spiritual people have a purpose, they choose to live healthy lifestyles.

Furthermore, many religions and spiritualities include advanced health systems. For instance, there are meditations in Buddhism. And exercises like Qigong and tai chi in Taoism. Because these exercises are part of daily discipline, spiritual people stick to them.

Finally, many spiritualities are vocally opposed to narcotics and meat consumption. Overall, these lifestyle changes improve health. 

 

3: Reduces fear of death:

One of the most common fears is about dying. Obviously, if you don’t have beliefs, you’ll think death is the end. Bummer.  Contrastingly, spiritual people believe in something after death (e.g. heaven). This makes the idea of death less stressful. 

A more positive outlook on death helps us face illness and health complications more rationally.

Plus, funeral rituals help with grief. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. at the Center for Loss says, “the funeral ceremony helps us acknowledge the reality of the death and gives testimony to the life of the deceased. It encourages the expression of grief in a way consistent with the culture’s values and provides support to mourners. Finally, it allows for the embracing of faith and beliefs about life and death, and offers continuity and hope for the living.” [6]

 

4: Meaning and purpose:

Another reason for the importance of spirituality in life is our sense of purpose. 

When we see that our life is intrinsically connected to a higher power, we value our lives more. And we are more likely to act in positive ways. We contribute to society and to the spiritual or religious communities we belong to.

When you wake up with a sense of purpose it promotes positive living. Contrastingly, when you lack purpose, you’re less likely to live a fulfilling life.

inspiring spiritual quote
inspiring spiritual quote

5: Helps us see the beauty in life:

Interestingly, one reason spirituality is important in life is that it makes everything beautiful.

Appreciation of beauty is one of the twenty-four-character strengths of positive psychology as defined by Martin Seligman (and so is spirituality).

Scientific research has proven that people who appreciate beauty are happier and healthier. This includes physical beauty but also the beauty of the world, nature, the elements etc. Appreciating beauty makes us happier.  

Spirituality helps us to see the beauty in life. A spiritualist can see the divine in everyday occurrences. Where something as simple as sunlight may be nothing more than light to a non-believer, to a spiritual or religious person that same sunlight is a connection to the divine.

 

6: Helps us to forgive:

One reason why spirituality is important in life is that it helps us to forgive.

Forgiveness:

  • Increases lifespan
  • Reduces anger
  • Helps with general health
  • Improves immune system functioning
  • Reduces stress
  • Strengthens relationships
  • Promotes happiness [based on research published by the Mayo Clinic]

Most spiritualities include lessons on forgiveness. For example, in Buddhism, there are specific meditations for forgiveness. Similarly, there are prayers and bible passages about forgiveness.

Indeed, forgiveness is a common trait of world religions. And this is crucial because forgiveness helps with both health and relationships. 

For instance, the bible says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”—Colossians 3:13

Spiritualists understand the importance of forgiveness. They acknowledge and accept the shortcomings of others. This reduces anger and stress.

Research reveals that spirituality also makes us more empathetic. Although research is not 100% clear why. Furthermore, there are pros and cons of being an empath.

 

7: Anti-ageing: 

Spiritual people age slower. Mostly because they are better equipped to handle stress.

The Mayo Clinic states that spirituality reduces stress in the following ways:

  • Provides a sense of purpose
  • Helps us connect to the world
  • Allows us to relinquish control
  • Expands our social networks
  • Helps us live healthier lives

Stress accelerates the ageing process. Spiritual techniques like meditation, prayer, yoga, tai chi, and more, limit the effects of stress. Therefore, they slow the ageing process. Just another amazing way in which spirituality is important. 

man praying in countryside

8: Helps you make sense of it all

Perhaps the universal benefit of spirituality is this: It helps us understand life. 

The wisdom found in different spiritualities can help you to understand life in a healthier way. It also makes us more hopeful and optimistic [read: the importance of hope in life]

 

9: Morals

One of the main reasons why spirituality is important in life is that it gives us morals. 

Many spiritualities focus on good karma and bad karma. This is the idea that good deeds are rewarded, and evil deeds punished. 

I’m a deeply spiritual person myself. My spirituality heavily influences my concept of morality. My personal spirituality revolves around compassion. I genuinely go out of my way to be kind to everyone I meet. Compassion is vital for me [Read: the importance of compassion].

Other spiritualities have their own code of morals that they follow. However, most value compassion, mercy, truth, love, and kindness. And those traits are in themselves essential for health and wellbeing.

It’s clear that there is a huge importance of spirituality in life. So how do you become spiritual?

 

How To Become More Spiritual In Life

It is not always easy to be spiritual. There are times when you will question your spirituality. My spirituality is love and compassion. And there are times when my loving, non-judgmental attitude is tested.

But there are ways to develop and maintain spirituality:

  1. Read about different religions and beliefs
  2. Appreciate art. For millennia, art has been intrinsically linked to spirituality.  
  3. Practice non-religious meditation. Twenty minutes of meditation per day will silence your thoughts and stress. This will give you mental space. Who knows, you might have deeply layered spiritual beliefs.
  4. Follow spiritual blogs for inspiration.
  5. Imagine you’re dead. . . no, really! This sounds morbid but do it. If you imagine the last day of your life, you will gain a fresh perspective on the present moment.   
  6. Read the works of the best spiritual gurus.  

These are just some of the potential ways how to become spiritual.

Look for spirituality in life

  • Consider the meaning of it all.
  • Look for areas and times of your life where you’ve felt like some external force was helping you.
  • Look to nature.
  • Feel love.
  • Appreciate art
  • Embrace beauty
  • Look to everything in the world that is so miraculous that there simply must be some explanation for it.

Learn more about spirituality with our spiritual words dictionary

 


SOURCES:

1: Does Spirituality Make You Happy? Brian Walsh, https://time.com/4856978/spirituality-religion-happiness/

2: Spirituality and Prayer Relieve Stress, Therese J. Borchard https://psychcentral.com/blog/spirituality-and-prayer-relieve-stress/

3:  Religious and Spiritual Factors in Depression: Review and Integration of the Research, Depression Research And Treatment, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3426191/

4:  Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications, Harold G. Koenig, ISNR Psychiatry, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3671693/

5: Why Is the Funeral Ritual Important? Center For Loss,  Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. https://www.centerforloss.com/2016/12/funeral-ritual-important/

6: Spirituality and stress relief: Make the connection, Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044464

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.