Nurturing and developing your spirituality may be just as important as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and building strong relationships . Taking the time to reconnect with what you find meaningful in life and returning to life’s big questions can enhance your own sense of connection with something larger than yourself.
Empathy is the ability and willingness to fully understand another person’s experience and connect it to your own—for example, rather than seeing an irritable coworker as a nuisance, you may recognize that they are reacting to stress in the workplace. Compassion is the practice of responding to this realization with kindness—because you understand why the coworker is in a bad mood, you respond with extra patience and listen deeply when they complain, rather than snapping back.
Andrew Weil, author of Spontaneous Happiness, describes empathy and compassion as “learnable skills that can bring greater happiness into your life and improve all of your relationships.” They are important to spiritual development, he explains, because they help you get out of self-centered ways of thinking and help you make connections with others. There are many ways to develop your sense of empathy and compassion, including:
Making a list of your beliefs and values  will help you live with intention. This list will be fluid, so recognize that it’s natural to shift and revise your values throughout life. Some of the questions you may ask yourself are:
If you need help coming up with your values, you might try a value sort activity .
Join a spiritual group, whether that is a church or mosque, meditation  center, yoga  class, or a local group that meets to discuss spiritual issues. The benefits of social support  are well documented, and having a spiritual community to turn to for fellowship can provide a sense of belonging and support.
Letting go of blame is not easy, but the rewards of relinquishing negative feelings are aplenty. To practice forgiveness, Stanford Forgiveness Project director Fred Luskin suggests finding the right perspective—parsing out whether your feelings are coming from the actual experience of someone wronging you, or whether your anger is intensifying as you re-hash the situation. See how those feelings are affecting you, and let go of what is not helpful. Be gentle to yourself as well—you don’t have to re-establish contact with the person who wronged you in order to forgive. As Luskin says, “Forgiveness is for you and no one else.”
The nonphysical aspects of spirituality can make it feel as if it is a remote practice, separate from the rest of your life. But this isn’t true—spirituality, just like the other aspects of wellbeing, is profoundly influenced by other factors in your lifestyle.
Exercising  regularly and eating a nutrient-rich diet  with lots of vegetables and fruits is one way of reminding yourself that you care deeply about this life and this body. Paying attention to what you eat is important, too: according to Jon Kabat Zinn, practicing mindful eating “allows you to drop right into the knowing in ways that are effortless, totally natural, and entirely beyond words and thinking. Such an exercise delivers wakefulness immediately.”
Treating yourself with compassion is just as important as treating others well, says Kristin Neff. “When we experience warm and tender feelings toward ourselves, we are altering our bodies as well as our minds. Rather than feeling worried and anxious, we feel calm, content, trusting, and secure.” The broadening effect of these positive emotions can enhance our sense of curiosity, wonder, and awe—all feelings that contribute to spirituality.
The benefits of adopting a contemplative practice—such as meditation, prayer , yoga, or journaling—have widespread effects not just on spirituality, but on physical and emotional health as well.