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Are You living a life with a purpose? 4 Questions to find out


March is Spiritual Wellness Month, a time of awareness of the values and beliefs that provide purpose in our lives. Spiritual wellness refers to the practice of integrating those beliefs and values with action toward bettering both ourselves and the world around us.

The National Wellness Institute highlights spirituality as one of the six dimensions of overall human wellness. A person who is spiritually well:
• Examines personal values and beliefs
• Searches for the deeper meanings of life
• Has a clear understanding of right and wrong
• Reflects and meditates
• Finds joy in everyday life

There are several studies about the positive effects that spirituality has on physical health. Spiritual strength promotes positive thinking, positive attitudes, and positive health which all work toward creating a healthy body. A recent study from Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center found that a belief in a caring God helped clinical depressed patients better respond to medical treatment.

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Everyone has their own personal religious faith, values, principles, and morals that define individual spirituality and it isn’t tied to a specific belief such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism or Muslim. Most spiritual practices believe that compassion, the capacity for love and forgiveness, altruism, joy, and fulfillment lead to spiritual health and wellness.

The first step in understanding personal spiritual wellness is to evaluate your own current lifestyle. The Wellness Center at the University of California, Riverside uses the following quiz:
• Do my values guide my decisions and actions? For example, do you practice respect, honesty, value for human life, and community service?
• Am I living my life with a purpose?
• Am I accepting of the views of others and understand that we are all connected?
• Do I make time for relaxation, meditation, or prayer in my day?
If you answer "No" to any of the questions, it may indicate an area where for improving the condition of your spiritual wellness.

The path to achieving spiritual wellness may involve meditation, prayer, affirmations, or other specific practice that supports the connection to a belief system. Some practices even have scientific backing for their ability to make us well. Yoga, for example, has been shown to increase the activity of the pre-frontal cortex in the brain, the area associated with love, creativity, and conscious thought. “Mind-Body” exercises such as yoga can reduce the risk of depression, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses while improving the immune system.

Sources for this article included: University of California Riverside, University of California San Diego, Brigham Young University and Towson University

This page is edited on March 17, 2013.