Develop Your Spiritual Resources

person standing on rock in bright sun

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.

Cultivate empathy and compassion

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.

senior woman embracing a man who is lying in a hospital bedAndrew 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:

  1. Listening deeply. Let go of assumptions that others feel the way you do, and allow yourself to fully listen to the way they describe their experience. Prioritize what the other person has to say above what you yourself would like to say or gain from a given conversation and just listen.
  2. Taking others’ perspectives into account. In addition to simply listening to others, open yourself up to imagining what it would be like to be in their shoes. How would you feel if you were in their situation?
  3. Look for the good. Positivity researcher Barbara Fredrickson recommends boosting compassion by actively considering others’ positive qualities. Encouraging yourself to acknowledge the whole picture of another person will help you see them as a complex, dynamic human who is worthy of kindness and compassion.