Becoming a wiser mature person — how do you do it? For spiritual development, it’s more than just aging and having more experiences, which come automatically. It’s what you do with your time and opportunities that makes the difference.
Shakespeare’s King Lear offers a cautionary tale for us here. The king made some bad decisions on ruling his kingdom with his adult daughters. His most virtuous daughter wouldn’t flatter him, so he gave his kingdom to his fawning daughters, who manipulatively praised him.
As a result, he lost his kingdom — and in the end, he lost his health and sanity. At one point, his companion/counselor — “the fool” — told him: “Thou should not have been old till thou had been wise.”
Important Items to Consider
Part of self-improvement is determined by two factors: having free will and how timing plays into our journey. Free will gives us the ability to choose, to create our destiny by our choices. Whether we make growth or fear choices matters.
Also, there is a timing to life. Sometimes we need patience, other times it’s good to strike while the iron is hot. Plus there are life stages. Often by midlife, for example, a transition or crisis causes us to pause and possibly change direction.
Keeping in mind these considerations (free will and timing), here are five ways to grow spiritually.
Have you consideredthatall the separation we’re seeing in our world may be becoming so extreme it’s making us come together? If we don’t come together, it seems we may fall apart. So coming together will help us not only survive, but grow, regenerate and thrive.
As you know, separation is showing up on many fronts: conflicts in race, politics, environment and more.
Perhaps the solution to these growing rifts isto make the following a priority: to mature spiritually. We automatically get older, but what we are talking about here is becoming wiser.
A Key Principle
Before we offer some how-to specifics, let’s start with a fundamental principle for spiritual growth. We are all spiritual beings – regardless of race, creed or religion – having a human experience.
And we all deserve dignity, no matter how “bad” an actor a person is, however narrow-minded, belligerent or destructive that looks like.
Just as peace begins with me, so spiritual growth begins with me too. This means facing one’s own narrow-mindedness, hostility and destructiveness as well as others’.
To gain clarity in maturing spiritually,here are three comparisons to help move us forward.
What part of life do we so often resist? Uncertainty. In truth, no one knows what the next moment holds, much less the distant future that we are heading toward.
It may be distressing. Or not. To gain insight, let’s examine this important area further.
The brain has an often-outdated reaction to uncertainty, sometimes panicking as if one’s life might be at stake. For ancestors dealing with prowling predators, this came in handy. For most of us now it is a rarely needed impulsive reaction.
Today we are often faced with decisions that we need to make without much information. If you think about it, having little information should make you cautious and intentional, not flighty with a fast reaction.
Here are two common situations facing people: A business person who wants their business to succeed, but has little information on how exactly to proceed. Or a spiritual seeker who gets advice from an authority, and is not sure how to follow up with this new information and way of being. In either case, just being reactive can lead one astray.
So how do you prevent your limbic brain stem from hijacking your more intentional-thinking brain’s cortex?
Let’s start here: be aware of what you can and cannot control. There are some grey areas. But generally, focus on what you can control and let go of trying to control the uncontrollable.
As a motivation, know that you can make wonderful decisions and carve out a great life even amidst tumultuous times.
Keeping in mind a sense of what is within your control, here are four ways to deal with uncertainty:
Do you have hope, hope for a better tomorrow? We hope so, some pun intended.
In a world of COVID-19, civil unrest, climate change and more, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel helpless.
That is why hope is an essential quality, both a state of mind and an emotion. It’s not something to cling to, but to develop and cultivate.
It can find the light at the end of the tunnel, or there can be a “hope against hope,” with little prospects of success.
What is hope, then, and why is it so important for your life’s journey? Wikipedia notes that hope is an “optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.”
In life’s meandering journey to wholeness, hope serves as an energetic tonic to empower us and get us there. The “there” in the future can become, with hope, a brighter present. In other words, today’s hope becomes tomorrow’s better future.
Hope then need not be a desperate measure, a Hail Mary pass when all else fails. It can become a vibrant hope, filled with love, healing and more, brimming with possibilities. Without hope, you become less confident, more weary.For without real hope, life drains out of you till you eventually become hopeless.
Have you ever noticed how influenced you can be by what others say? And guess who says the most to you? Yourself, your self-talk. And this self-talk — constant inner chatter — usually goes by unnoticed, like noise in the background.
Some of the messages we send to ourselves we wouldn’t say about our enemies. (“You’re a stupid idiot:”; “You’re a dumb klutz”; “You can’t do anything right.”)
And what you tell yourself, whether you’re listening or not, programs and directs your life. Your self-talk sometimes becomes a self-fulfilling (or unfulfilling) prophecy.
But take heart. We don’t have to be on automatic, which can lead to poor decision making and a general dullness and routineness of life.
It’s good to know you can monitor yourself, listen to yourself and hear the signals in that ongoing self-talk that fills the background of your life.
So how do you do that – bring attention, light and awareness to what you are telling yourself? Here are four important strategies to apply for a greater life.
Words are so much a part of our lives, we rarely examine them. Here are a couple important things to keep in mind.
Our ongoing stream of thoughts contains many negative messages, some reasonable alerts, while many others are false warnings and alarms. We also re-play our favorite negative messages about ourselves and the world.
What’s more, living presents many societal problems that affect us. The media focuses on conflict as well, influencing – often unconsciously –how we describe things.
As a result, it’s easy to use negatively laden words and phrases without realizing the toll they take – on our daily life and the quality of our life
By contrast, using words with awareness can make a positive difference. Let’s explore how words can depress us or uplift us.