Image by Mike Foster
I've had the honor and pleasure of coaching and working with some of the wealthiest people on the planet. I've often noticed that when people haven't developed a spiritual core, they increasingly gather material goods, yet their lives become more unstable and insecure.
When your life is characterized by a deeper meaning at its core, money can serve the purpose of furthering your spiritual development. For example, money can afford you the opportunity to attend spiritual retreats and seminars, support endeavors that are oriented toward this area of life, or feed your spirit in any number of ways.
If you're an agnostic or atheist, you can play The Spiritual Life Game by focusing on the fulfillment of your purpose as a human being. Your Game can revolve around helping all of humanity through volunteerism, charitable acts, or just being a compassionate person who serves as a model for your fellow human beings.
All of these acts comprise elements of spirituality that aren't necessarily connected to a belief in God or a Higher Power.
I really don't care what you believe. I only encourage you to explore, practice, and deepen whatever it is that brings you joy and fulfillment.
Now or Later
Many people don't think about their spiritual lives until they're faced with a crisis such as a life-threatening illness. Then they decide to embark on spiritual practices such as meditation or prayer.
Are you ready to turn "later" and "someday" into "now" when it comes to attending to your spiritual life? I have some questions for you to consider if spirituality has been so far back on your burner that you've forgotten that it's an essential part of being human:
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1. Why would you wait until you're about to die to focus on spirituality, when it could be enriching absolutely everything in your life today?
2. How much more prepared for dealing with life's greatest challenges (including death) will you be if you make a commitment right now to nourish your spirit in whatever way works best for you?
3. How long are you going to keep depriving yourself of that which will bring you more satisfaction than anything the material world has to offer?
Try this exercise: Pretend you're going to die within 24 hours. What is most important to you: watching a sunset or sunrise, reading the Bible or some other literature that gives you strength or perspective, communing with nature, playing with your children . . . ? Whatever it is, if it's good enough for you when you're dying, then it should certainly be important enough to pay attention to while you're alive.
Think about those times when people close to you were dying. What did they request at the end of their lives? Did they want to be near family members or personal mementos? Did they crave good, honest, heartfelt conversation? These are the kinds of things you want in your life, which will nourish you every day.
A special rule for The Spiritual Life Game is:
Live each day as if it were your last.
Exploring What You Believe
When the subject of spirituality comes up in conversation, people often admit that they don't know what they believe. They have no idea what speaks to their hearts. This can be a result of spiritual immaturity. By this term, I mean that people are often still in a reactive or rebellious mode when it comes to their spiritual lives.
Perhaps long ago they rejected their parents' religion or the kind of belief system that they felt was foisted upon them as children. Yet they haven't taken the time or made the effort to seek out something that is more to their liking. These individuals are still mired in teenage rebellion or an ego-driven mode where they're too proud to even consider that their parents might have been wise about anything. These attitudes may be robbing them of possibilities for spiritual growth.
This doesn't mean that because you've rejected that old-time religion, you are wrong and your parents were right. What it does mean is that if you've never explored your childhood belief system for yourself, you could be stuck in a knee-jerk reaction to your parents' authority rather than having made up your own mind about the religious traditions with which you were raised.
Or, perhaps the opposite form of spiritual immaturity may be true for you. If you've merely accepted whatever has been handed down to you by your parents without ever exploring its deeper meaning, you haven't allowed for the possibility that this tradition might satisfy you in ways that your parents could have never imagined.
These are the kinds of issues you'll want to consider as you design The Spiritual Life Game. What's truly yours, and what have you merely accepted or rejected? What would offer you a more satisfying and meaningful spiritual life than you had as a child? Or what would restore the innocence and joy you may have found in your spiritual life back then?
A special rule for The Spiritual Life Game is:
Develop a sense of maturity
in your spiritual beliefs and practices.
Living Versus Talking
To wholeheartedly play The Spiritual Life Game, I suggest that you do more than just talk about religion, beliefs, or traditions. Find the structure and community that will help you start living what you say you believe. If you're a church member, talk with the minister and ask how you can become more involved in this place of worship. If going to church doesn't fit in with how you want to feed your spiritual life, take regular walks with your friends in the woods, and worship together there. The point is to surround yourself with people who have an affinity for expressing and developing their spirituality.
George Page shares a story of how he found comfort and growth in a spiritual community.
When I was 69 years old, I had to undergo surgery to remove a malignant prostate gland. I was a bit anxious to get it done as quickly as possible before aggressive cancer cells spread.
While driving to a vacation spot where I'd be spending a week with my family, I started wondering what I was supposed to be learning from this totally unexpected experience of having cancer surgery. The answer that came to mind was: Since no one really knows exactly what causes this or other cancers, I should change my life in as many ways as possible.
I decided to institute changes by starting with acting as if I were a Catholic and joining my wife by going to church with her. This was something I hadn't done for more than 40 years.
The next day after my decision, we attended Mass at a Catholic church. There, I received amazing validation that I was doing the right thing. We were welcomed into the church with the sound of fantastic organ music. I felt as if we were attending a concert. An old Irish priest officiated the service and held out his open arms to people of all beliefs, telling them to "do their own thing." His attitude made me feel immediately comfortable.
My surgery and the recovery from it turned out to be totally successful. Since then, I've continued to go to Mass when I wanted this kind of spiritual connection, and I feel that I'm on a journey to raise my life to a higher level.
By making the change of revisiting his old spiritual beliefs, George had the kind of renewal he was seeking.
Living According To Your Highest Principles and Beliefs
You may have been caught up in the form or the organization of having a spiritual life and lost its true substance. If you're honest with yourself, you may realize that you're more charged up by the power and attention that comes from talking about your religious beliefs and getting others interested in them than living your religion and leading by example.
Perhaps you're someone who volunteers in your church and busily manages all sorts of activities, yet when it comes to your own prayer life, you run out of time. Maybe you're giving much, but with a lot of fanfare and praise. You may have lost the ability not to expect anything in return from doing silent and compassionate acts. Or are you someone who lives by the letter but not the spirit of the law? These are points to reflect upon as you decide what your Spiritual Life Game should consist of.
Before going to bed and upon waking up, imagine what your day would look like if you lived it according to your highest principles and beliefs. For example, you might practice not judging others. When you see someone you'd normally internally criticize, instead of judging, just say a hearty "Good morning," and welcome the person with love in your heart.
Published by Jodere Group Inc., and distributed by Hay House
and available at all bookstores, or at www.hayhouse.com
The Game: Win Your Life in 90 Days
by Sarano Kelley.
The motivational speaker offers a game with prizes, rules, time limits, and coaches to help readers set goals, measure results, and achieve personal and professional objectives.
About the Author
Sarano Kelley grew up in a gang-infested neighborhood in Brownsville, New York, and became a Vassar graduate who was earning $400,000 as a stockbroker on Wall Street by the time he was 23. He is a well-respected motivational speaker. Sarano coaches financial professionals in the areas of relationship building, management, business development, and negotiation. He teaches them to take control of their time and their lives by putting great ideas into motion to produce results. Kelley founded The Center for Excellence and TheCoachingProgram.com, which offer coaching and corporate training based on the principles in his book, The Game: Win Your Life in 90 Days.