Spiritual Wellness: Kvell’s Three Pillars of the Spirit
Hello, Beautiful Soul,
Reading this article will give you the chance to explore your inner spirit. You don’t have to be religious or ~spiritual~ to recognize your inner spirit. In fact, your spirit is the foundation of your physical, emotional, and social selves — it is the truest culmination of everything you are.
Your soul, spirit, or inner self is an evolving, fluid system. The spirit is affected by the life you live and the choices you make, but especially by the thoughts and feelings you have toward yourself and your spirit.
Spiritual wellness requires you to acknowledge and define your inner spirit, push for greater authenticity in your life’s choices and connect those choices to meaning and purpose. To fuel this work, you’ll need to rest, relax, and remain open — we’ll learn more about how to do that in a bit.
Because you are the hero in your own spiritual journey, only you can define what is authentic, what feels good, and what gives your life meaning. Our guidance can help you achieve exactly that. Let’s go:
Spiritual Pillar One: Rest and Relaxation
Rest and relaxation are not the same. Though you might use these terms interchangeably, they actually serve two separate and essential functions in your life. Let’s define each one, so we can explore how both rest and relaxation can promote spiritual well-being:
Rest is Good for the Spirit
Rest is a state of quieting the mind, slowing the body, and enjoying purposeful inactivity. Our bodies demand rest on a daily basis in the form of nightly sleep, naps as needed, and quiet periods of sitting or introspection. As children, rest was promoted as part of our daily curriculum in the form of naps and story hours. It is recognized in early childhood education that small children require this reset of body and brain in order to stabilize emotionally, focus more clearly, and remain at ease. In adolescence and adulthood, rest is given up for the sake of productivity. We might flop down on the couch and put our feet up, enjoying a bit of Netflix, but we’re constantly pressured to perform, do, make, and give. Sometimes, it’s more than our spirits can afford.
Our spiritual wellness depends on physical rest. If we’re constantly going and going, it can be difficult to make choices that align with our spiritual needs. When we replace alignment with a feeling of staying busy and active, we’re often denying our spirit.
This is why rest isn’t enough on its own. For spiritual wellness, relaxation is also essential.
Relaxation is Good for the Spirit
Whether our bodies are active or resting, relaxation is possible. Relaxation is the process of quieting mind pressure, easing emotional strain, and immersing yourself in something you truly enjoy. Relaxation is about freedom from anxiety, worry, or stress.
For some, a 6-mile run is relaxing, while others might find it relaxing to play a video game, make art, cook dinner, walk in nature, or read a book.
Have you ever been asked: “what would you do with your life if you didn’t have to work to make money?” The underlying question is: “what do you enjoy doing so much that even while being very active in it, you feel totally relaxed?”
Your spiritual wellness depends on this relaxation to stir up new creative ideas, clear out your mental clutter, and help you align to what it is you’re doing on this Earth.
Relaxation and rest are two parts of the same whole, both essential to every kind of wellness we explore on Kvell.
Spiritual Pillar Two: Authenticity
Authenticity is the state of being yourself, truly, completely, and without falsification. To be authentic means to be true to what you believe, who you are, and how you want to go through your life. If you know who you are and what you want, authenticity should be fairly easy. However, knowing yourself deeply is easier to suggest than it is to achieve. Here’s why:
There are two major challenges to authenticity:
Lack of Identity
You can’t be authentically yourself if you don’t know yourself. The rest and relaxation we explored above will help frame your mind, and ease your heart, so that you can think clearly about what you want. When you consider what helps you relax, you’ll know which activities and atmosphere feel best to you, which can help you create a more authentic life experience.
The noise and pressure from outside influences like the media, your family and friends, employers, partners, and society at-large can cause a divide between your authentic self and your current behaviors. If you feel like everything is a mess and nothing feels right to you, you may be living inauthentically to your values, needs, and truth. Rest and relaxation, with time away from outside influences, will be key to restoring your authenticity.
If you have quieted these external influences and you still feel misaligned, it’s time to do a little soul-searching.
Soul Searching for Alignment and Authenticity
Individuals who are living the most authentic life are those who align their actions and behaviors with their own set of core values and beliefs. In this way, you’re revealing and embodying your “true self.” When people act in ways that violate their self-concept, they may experience a range of negative feelings from mild discomfort to heavy guilt.
You might wonder: is my “true self” something I discover and align with, or something I modify and determine over time? This has been debated for years, as the “self” is a moving target.
To combat the confusion, Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman created an Authenticity Inventory. The tool consists of four key factors: awareness, unbiased processing, behaviour, and relational orientation. Using this tool, they found that being authentic can provide a host of benefits, including a strong sense of self-worth and self-competence, a greater ability to follow through on goals, and more effective coping skills.
Being authentic involves the ability to be introspective and understand what motivates oneself. Such accurate self-knowledge can be a double-edged sword, though. Seeing ourselves wholly and authentically often reveals uncomfortable truths or weaknesses that we would rather not acknowledge.
However, advocates of authenticity argue that in the long run, it’s better to fight to be your whole self than struggle to perform as someone else. Authenticity is key to finding and fulfilling your purpose, too.
Spiritual Pillar Three: Finding Purpose and Meaning
Rested and relaxed with a clear picture of who you are and what you want? You are now able to see and feel more clearly. You’ll need this clarity and energy as you push to answer life’s most important question:
What were you put on this planet to do?
This isn’t so much a question about your career, though your purpose may be tied up in your work. This is a question about your humanity. Your work, your relationships, your beliefs, your philanthropy, your art, and your spirit.
Something from you, something about you, or something within you is essential to this planet, and to this society. You were born for a reason. You have a purpose.
So, why were you born?
Why should you rise each day?
What will you do with that time?
How will you know when you’ve done it?
These are tough questions to answer, and there’s no answer key. While it does not much matter what gives you purpose, it does matter that you find it somewhere. A growing body of research has found that the feeling that one’s life has meaning is associated with a host of positive health outcomes.
Pleasure vs. Purpose
Research shows that purpose and meaning in life are associated with the highest levels of happiness. The father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, Ph.D., speaks on three tiers of living which increase from basal pleasure to meaning and fulfillment.
Seligman teaches that many people live “the pleasant life,” which is all about the pursuit of positive emotion and experience. Pleasantries like laughter, good food, and good feelings are centered in this lifestyle, but there’s little else to live for. When novel experiences and indulgences give out, the spirit is empty, too.
In the second tier, “the engaged life,” we can pursue a greater depth of existence where we strive for excellence, fortitude, and giving. It’s more desirable than living the “pleasant life,” as it centers on deeper values and gifts than those which benefit ourselves. It enhances the human spirit to give to others and to center priorities outside oneself. But there’s more.
To Seligman, the ultimate aim is to live “the meaningful life.” Those who pursue meaning truly move beyond themselves and their immediate circles to leave a legacy, give back, and produce enduring works of passion and purpose. These people not only create positive emotion and are engaged in life, they also establish what Seligman calls “meaningful positive institutions.” In other words, they live a life full of purpose and meaning which can then be co-opted by others, shared in a community, and which last beyond one individual’s years on Earth.
You might be wondering: “What if I don’t have a purpose?”
We all have a purpose. The idea that “everything happens for a reason,” is not just a friendly quip to help you cope with the tumult of life. It’s physics.
Think of it in the reverse. “If it happened, it was obviously supposed to happen.”
Now think of your birth.
It was all meant to be. You were meant to be. This moment was meant to be, too.
We’ll leave you with a quote about purpose, to ponder as you fall asleep tonight:
“’If you are breathing, you are still alive. If you are alive, then you are still here, physically, on this planet. If you are still here, then you have not completed what you were put on earth to do. If you have not completed what you were put on earth to do…that means your very purpose has not yet been fulfilled. If your purpose has not yet been fulfilled, then the most important part of your life has not yet been lived.”
No matter how old or young or tired or sad or busy or lazy or whatever you believe yourself to be, you have VERY important work to do, my soul-searching friend.
We all do.
Spiritual Wellness and the Kvell Wheel
On your wellness journey, spiritual well-being is just one of five key tenets. The others, emotional and mental wellness, physical health and wellness, social and relational wellness, and financial wellness, each play their part to affect your life and to erode or equip your spirit. You must be physically strong and rested in order to grapple with your spirit. Your spirit intermingles with your emotions and thoughts. Your spirit and purpose will affect your career, and the ways you spend your money. Your spirit will impact your relationships. It’s all interconnected.
Fortunately, you can learn to take care of your spirit, body, mind, heart, relationships, and finances with help from Kvell. There’s no telling where kvelling will take you.
The Kvell Team