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The Importance of a Spiritual Life

Reviewed Dec 20, 2013


Find spirituality:

  • in nature
  • in organized religion
  • through meditation or prayer

It’s important to look for and find hope and joy in whatever we do. Without hope or joy, we feel empty. When we connect to something bigger than ourselves, we feel better. We might even find purpose in our lives.

That something we connect with might be God, or peace, or nature. It could even be the goodness of humanity. Whatever you call it, believing in something helps us find our way in a complex and lonely world, especially if our lives are hard. 

Most people think you must belong to an organized religion—like a church or synagogue, maybe—to find your spiritual connection. Becoming part of a religious community is a good way to meet people with beliefs like your own, but it’s not the only place to find a spiritual life.

Look inside

You can find it in prayer, meditation or a community service project that has a spiritual side to it. Others find peace in nature, art or even music. You probably know someone who loves the sound of a waterfall or of a bird singing. Maybe you play special music to bring yourself into a spiritual state.

When your life has purpose, you have the strength to weather the storms of life. You are more likely to make positive choices than to avoid the pitfalls of addiction and stress-related problems.

Benefits of belief

Research has shown that people who have a spiritual life are less likely than others to get sick and more likely to bounce back, if they do.

When you’re part of a bigger universe, you value yourself and others more. You see how important it is to protect your body and soul from people and activities that could hurt you. You are less likely to take drugs or try risky sexual behavior.

When you work with others toward a positive goal—like helping out with a charity or a food drive—you get a new view on your own life. Your own problems aren’t so big anymore. At the same time, you make new friends to share your own important experiences with.

Stop to smell the roses

Find some time in your busy day to focus on whatever is good in your life. Is the sky blue today? Was someone kind to you? What do you have to be thankful for?

You can’t smell the roses if you are stressed, so try to tune it out. Meditate. Imagine you are at the beach or watching a beautiful sunset. Try to hear the sounds, feel the wind, and see the colors. Setting aside a few moments a day to escape stress will help you handle the busier times of the day. 

Here are some easy ways to build a spiritual side to your life:

  • Pray or take time each day to sit quietly and think about what you want out of life.
  • Try to see where you fit in the big picture of life around you.
  • Keep a diary of your thoughts and feelings.
  • Read poems or stories that inspire you.
  • Listen to quiet music that puts you in a relaxed state.
  • Keep in touch with people who make your life better.

You might think that if you have a strong spiritual life, you don’t need regular medical care anymore. You do. Take good care of yourself. You’re well worth the effort!


Mental Health America
2000 N. Beauregard St, 6th floor
Alexandria VA 22311
(800) 969-6642

Helpful websites:

"Take Care of Your Spirit," Mental Health America,

"Spirituality and Stress Relief: Make the Connection," Mayo Clinic Health Manager

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Scott Haltzman, MD, psychiatrist, author and medical director of NRI Community Services, Woonsocket R.I.; "Healing from Within: Spirituality and Mental Health" by Larry Culliford, 2005,

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