Last week we looked at four essential spiritual practices that acknowledged the simple reality that for many of us, life can be a struggle and painful. We also acknowledged that much of the pain and struggle we experience in life is created in our own mind.
We recognized that that if we “are” creating the pain and struggle of life inside our own minds——then it makes sense that if we could learn to change the way we “think”, we could remove much of the pain and struggle we experience in life.
In Part 1 of this article we explored the first four spiritual practices required to experience happiness and success in life. They included:
Spiritual Practice #1 – Stay Awake To The Reality That Life Is Terminal
Spiritual Practice #2 – Learn To Give
Spiritual Practice #3 – What’s In It For “Them”
Spiritual Practice #4 – The Value Of Hard Work
Today, we will take a look at the final five spiritual practices needed to achieve the authentic spiritual growth so essential for the creation of happiness and success in life.
Spiritual Practice #5 – Find Your Life Purpose; Your Vision
Why are you here? What did your soul come here to do?
Until we discover our life purpose; what our soul came here to do, our life will lack meaning. Until we consciously and intentionally bring our most important values and dreams into the center of our lives, our life will lack the passion and excitement we will need to achieve happiness and success.
Until we discover our life purpose, everything we do will just be “work”——–that thing we do to “make a living”; that thing we do every day because we don’t have a vision large enough for our soul.
Without the clarity that comes from discovering our life purpose, life will indeed be hard. And probably painful. Without vision and purpose, our life will be lived much like a person who gets into their car, turns on the engine, shifts into gear, puts their hands behind their head, hits the gas——-and then wonders why they crashed——again.
When we don’t know where we’re going; when we don’t have a vision of where we want to go and what we want to accomplish in life, wherever we decide to go is really not important. Just get in the car, hit the gas, and wait for the crash.
Our life purpose and our vision are the compass for our life. They are our life energy. They don’t have to be big, or alter life as we know it, but they do have to be clear in our mind. Without that clarity, we will simply wander through life——until we run out of our allotted number of breaths.
Spiritual Practice #6 – Discipline: Getting The Big Rock In The Jar First
This spiritual practice goes along with spiritual practice #5. When we have discovered our life purpose and vision; the “BIG” rock in our life, we then need to get it into the jar each day. The metaphor is simple. Most of us spend our day filling up our jar with pebbles, and sand, and water. By the end of the day there’s no room in the jar for the “BIG” rock! It won’t fit. Then we go to bed and wonder why we’re unhappy and unsuccessful.
When we have discovered our life purpose and our vision; “the BIG rock” in our life, we need to make certain that “BIG” rock is the “first” thing that gets put into our jar——-every day! The pebbles, sand, and water go in the jar “after” the “BIG” rock. When we have the discipline to do this every day, success and happiness are almost guaranteed.
Discipline is simply the action we bring into our lives each day that insures that those things we have decided are most important in our life get into the jar first——-every day.
Spiritual Practice #7 – Always Pursue Truth; Question Everything
The most important work we can do in life is the search for truth. Truth and reality are close cousins. No matter how hard we work, no matter how much discipline we bring into our lives, if the beliefs we hold are not securely grounded in reality, and to the best of our ability to determine, actually represent truth, our work will be built on a foundation of illusions.
Learn to question everything. The more our culture believes something to be true, the more we need to examine it. Don’t accept things as “truth” unless what they say make sense to you; unless you have used your own ability to bring reason to bear on what “they” are telling you. This is especially true when someone speaks to us as an “authority” figure and expects us to agree with them because they are an “authority” figure.
If we have a strong belief, be willing to ask ourselves, where did that belief come from? Who taught it to me? Does it resonate with my heart wisdom as “truth”? Have I really thought about it, or do I simply believe it to be true because I’ve always had that belief? Why do I get upset if someone challenges my beliefs?
We are often willing to fight for our beliefs, but very few of us actually examine and think about them. We just accept them to be true. We need to learn to question the beliefs we carry in our mind—-because many of them may not be true. In fact, some of them may actually conflict with the deeper wisdom of our heart energy.
The truth will always provide us with a foundation we can trust. It will always be a trustworthy guide on the path toward our dreams and our goals. But we need to examine them carefully, not just accept them on blind faith.
We need to be very suspicious of anyone who tells us they have “the” truth on any subject. When we accept something as “truth”, we need to remind ourselves that no one, our selves included, ever has the final say on what “truth” is. We simply have “our” version of what “we” believe to be true.
Truth is “always” subjective.
Spiritual Practice #8 – Live Your Life With Integrity
When we have armed ourselves with what we believe, to the best of our ability, to be truth, we then have to learn to live those truths with integrity. We have to mean what we say, and be willing to live what we believe. When our actions, or the actions of others, are in conflict with our values, and what we hold to be true, it may not make us popular, but if we are to live with integrity, we have to be willing to stand for what we believe.
Living with integrity also means we have to be willing to listen to our heart. If what we hold to be true in our intellect is in conflict with the deeper wisdom and energy of our heart, we have to be willing to re-examine those beliefs and replace them with beliefs that are resonant with the soul energy of our heart wisdom.
Living with integrity means even our most treasured and closely held beliefs must be abandoned or re-examined when there is conflict between our head and our heart. Our actions will always reflect our true beliefs and values. So when our actions make us uncomfortable, we need to have the courage and integrity to carefully examine who we are, and what we really believe inside.
Spiritual Practice #9 – Learn From Your Mistakes, Don’t Avoid “Making” Them
Life is never perfect. It will never conform to our expectations and assumptions. We are not going to live the perfect life. We will never possess the final word on “truth”. If we are embracing life fully and striving to realize our true evolutionary potential to become the person we were meant to become——-we will make mistakes. Count on it.
What we can do however is be willing to examine our mistakes and be open to what the experience is trying to teach us. When we turn our mistakes into learning’s, the more mistakes we have the courage to make, the faster we will achieve wisdom.
As we grow and achieve that wisdom, we need to use that wisdom to add value to the lives of those around us.
When the spiritual practices offered in this article are embraced and located at the center of who we are; when we have learned to live life adding value to the lives of others——–when the day comes that we take our last breath, we will know in our hearts that we have made a difference in the world——that our being here mattered.
That “knowing” is the source of happiness and success, and the goal of authentic spiritual growth.