The concept of spirituality can take on many different definitions, most of which can be boiled down to this: believing in something that is bigger than oneself.
Most of us do this, whether it means being part of an organized religion, or by venerating some other aspect of our lives that feels important. We have an inherent nature, as human beings, to find meaning and purpose in living our day-to-day lives, and this drives us toward something bigger than us.
The resources of life come to us in limited supply: time, money, loved ones, etc. There is no limitless resource in life. This means that we must allocate those resources in one direction or another. Will we spend our time at work or at home with our families? Will we spend our money on buying a new car or giving to a charity? Will we make new friends or will we call up an old friend?
At times, many people find that they must devote all of their available resources to the pursuit of those things which solely factor into survival (the attainment of food, water, shelter, clothing, and companionship). This can create a spiritual void in which we are not able to exercise our personal values - those things that are larger than ourselves and that will exist long after we are gone.
When we develop a spiritual void and we find any aspect of our resources available to try to fill it, the lowest-hanging fruit tends to be sucked into the void first. The low-hanging fruit will differ from person to person, but it is usually something that is already conveniently present or easy to obtain. Dating a coworker. Becoming a super-parent. Falling into alcoholism or the abuse of other substances. If this thing becomes more available, we may try to pursue it in increasing amounts, sometimes to the point of obsession and the loss of other important aspects of our lives. In trying to expand our lives to include something bigger than ourselves, we have inadvertently shrunk ourselves down to be smaller than these convenient sources of feeling-good. They become stand-ins for meaning and purpose, instead of being meaningful in and of themselves.
When you look closely at the ways in which you spend your limited resources, are you spending them on things you find purposeful and meaningful? Are you spending them merely to survive to obtain more limited resources? Or are you spending them on empty fillers that don’t speak to your higher values? Nobody else can tell you what you value, but they can tell you how you spend your resources, so if you are finding it difficult to answer these questions, ask somebody else in your life what you appear to value most in your life. If their reply surprises you, it’s likely that you need to make changes.
As we move through the December holidays and approach the New Year on our calendars, you might be thinking about what resolutions you would like to make. If you want to see the greatest growth and the greatest return on your investment, try choosing a resolution that will fill your spiritual void and bring your life more meaning and more purpose.