Ingredients for Spiritual Health

One dictionary gave me 14 different definitions for "spirit." The base word is from the Latin spirare, "to breathe." Common uses of spirit and spiritual include "pertaining to the sacred," "vital, supernatural being or essence," "the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person," and several others.

There is more than one route to spiritual health... many doors to the same room... different perspectives, different ways of saying the same thing. Here is one door, a simple triad of ingredients: Don't Judge, Don't Compare, and Don't Have a Need to Know Why. The End.

If you can do this, no need to read further. You are living on a spiritual basis.

For those who want a little more discussion, let's look at "Don't Judge." As human beings, we are not in charge of the Universe. Try saying this, "There is a God and it's not me." If you find the word "God" objectionable, use "Force of the Universe" or "Nature" or something else you want to replace that three letter word, "God." The sun rises and sets and you are not in charge of it. The same applies to everything else. The only things we are in charge of are our own behavior, our thoughts, and sometimes our feelings.

If we want to judge a situation, another person, anything at all, we are trying to play God. If we can let God do the judging, we find we can be more open-minded. We can see what people do as just behavior, often obnoxious, but just what they are doing, not doing TO US. If we can be open-minded, and not judge, we can often be of service and help someone instead of buying into negativity. This allows others to be more real, to just be human, and allows us to be the best person we can be. By not judging, we can treat all people equally and fairly, not see ourselves as victims, and let God be in charge. When we practice this, we find we are living on a spiritual basis. This is by no means a suggestion to tolerate abuse; more on that in a future column. The point is, don't get caught up in another's behavior; don't judge it, don't be a victim, just detach from the God job and do your own job of being the best human being you can be regardless of what the world has in store for you.

"Don't Compare." Right. When we compare, we either see ourselves as better than (richer, better looking, smarter, etc.) or as not as good as (poorer, fatter, balder, shorter, less education, worse job, dumber, etc.) another. Either way, we cut ourselves off from others. We are using a psychological maneuver to stay distant from others, to stay dissatisfied, with ourselves and/or others. As with many other personality traits, this comes from not being comfortable with whom and what we are, from low self-esteem. We find ways to avoid closeness and acceptance... of others and of ourselves. We isolate, emotionally if not physically. We find ourselves alone, even in a crowd. Stop it. See what happens if you just stop comparing yourself to others and simply start being who you are. Try seeing yourself and everyone else as Godís kids, playing down here in His sandbox, chopping wood and hauling water, doing the best we can with what we have to work with. Accept yourself, and others, for just who we are, nothing less, nothing more, and don't compare!

"Don't Have a Need to Know Why." Many of us operate out of FEAR, fearing tomorrow, regretting yesterday. Obviously, if we know what is going to happen, and why, we would be... that three letter word again... God. If we know all things, then life might be easier, (you think?); but we would be kicking God out of His job again. Living on a spiritual basis requires us to trust, trust that God has a plan and we don't get to know what it is until it happens. We are just players, not directors, of this life thing. If we play the best we can, being responsible, reliable, honest, kind, accepting and all those other spiritually healthy things, we get to have joy and peace, knowing we are being the best person we can be. Try it. It really works.

Living a spiritual life means living a life of trust. It means breathing deeply and asking for help in dealing with whatever life throws at us, trusting God will give us the spiritual strength and capacity to get through, maybe even to find joy and peace. In fact, just trusting can be joyful and peaceful!

Don't believe it? Don't like it? Too difficult to change old habits? No problem, just go back to your old way of living: Being right, looking good, and getting your own way. You may get some short term benefits, but in the long run this second triad has been shown to bring loneliness and unhappiness, and is often associated with addiction.

Dr. Dawn Obrecht is the only MD addiction medicine specialist on the western slope of Colorado. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and her office is in Steamboat Springs. or info@docdawn.com

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