Are you a spiritual person? According to researchers who monitor such things, many of us these days declare ourselves to be spiritual, though not religious. The spiritual-but-not-religious crowd would contend that organized religion does not have a monopoly on spiritual matters and spiritual experiences. We would have to agree, of course. And perhaps it is also true that religious folks are not always particularly spiritual. So what does it mean to be a “spiritual” person?
We recently discovered an article by Perry Garfinkel (“The 7 Habits Of Highly Spiritual People,” Huffington Post) which seems to suggest that spiritual people can be recognized by their habits, seven of which are particularly revealing of a person’s spiritual nature – and actually Garfinkel’s article adds an eighth habit for good measure. We think Garfinkel makes a great start in outlining the richness of spiritual life when he identifies these eight central spiritual habits. Here’s our take on his list:
One: Spiritual people are givers rather than takers. Life is in so many ways an exchange. We give some and, by necessity, we take some. But where does the balance lie? Generous givers gain the priceless reward of seeing their valuable assets (material or spiritual) grow by bringing joy to more lives than their own.
Two: Spiritual people say yes more than they say no. Former U.N. Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, expressed this positive response to life so well in his famous prayer: “For all that has been, thank you. For all that is to come, yes!” Spiritual people say yes to people, to opportunities, to challenges.
Three: Spiritual people see options, not problems. They rarely get stuck or find themselves immobilized by doubt. They believe that the outcomes to the world’s struggles and their own efforts are rife with promise.
Four: Spiritual people are capable of walking a mile in another’s shoes. They have the capacity to recognize that despite our differences, we humans all have a great deal in common. And so spiritual people are capable of empathy, even for situations they have not experienced themselves and for people they’ve barely met.
Five: Spiritual people count blessings in small wonders. Without waiting for a miracle, a grand epiphany or an ‘aha’ moment, spiritual people are willing to give thanks for every marvelous little gift that comes their way. From a baby’s first smile to a flaming sunset, spiritual people notice and appreciate each wonder.
Six: Spiritual people give compliments generously and accept them with humility. This is a matter of appropriate self-regard. Spiritual people readily recognize the precious and unique value of others – and they acknowledge their own worth, too.
Seven: Spiritual people worship where and when the spirit moves them. They aren’t necessarily reliant upon a designated holy setting or a particular institution to provide the site and the means for their worship. Any number of thoughts and events might prompt an outbreak of prayer, of awe, of gratitude.
Eight: Spiritual people laugh a lot. Gladness tends to bubble up in them. And why not? A life graced with a spiritual focus is a life richly savored and thoroughly enjoyed.
The spiritual life is wide open to us all, and it beckons us to receive its rewards. Why not try adopting these eight holy habits and see what happens?