Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.
Some may find that their spiritual life is intricately linked to their association with a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue. Others may pray or find comfort in a personal relationship with God or a higher power. Still others seek meaning through their connections to nature or art. Like your sense of purpose , your personal definition of spirituality may change throughout your life, adapting to your own experiences and relationships .
For many, spirituality is connected to large questions about life and identity, such as:
While spirituality may incorporate elements of religion, it is generally a broader concept. Religion and spirituality are not the same thing, nor are they entirely distinct from one another. The best way to understand this is to think of two overlapping circles like this:
Where the circles overlap is the individual experience, which affects the way you think, feel, and behave.
You will notice as you read on that many practices recommended for cultivating spirituality are similar to those recommended for improving emotional wellbeing . This is because there is a connection between the two—emotional and spiritual wellbeing influence one another and overlap, as do all aspects of wellbeing.
Spirituality is about seeking a meaningful connection with something bigger than yourself, which can result in positive emotions, such as peace, awe, contentment, gratitude, and acceptance.
Emotional health is about cultivating a positive state of mind, which can broaden your outlook to recognize and incorporate a connection to something larger than yourself.
Another way of putting it:
It is hard to find meaning and connection in life if you are ruminating over negative emotions. Likewise, it can be difficult to cultivate positive emotions, such as gratitude and compassion, if you don’t recognize a larger perspective or sense of interconnectedness in the world.
Thus, emotions and spirituality are distinct but linked, deeply integrated with one another.