12 Spiritual Principles to Live By

by Guest Author on · 2 comments

Life is hard. It doesn’t mat­ter if you’re liv­ing in a huge man­sion or stand­ing in line at a soup kitchen, the truth of the mat­ter is, not many of us are given the tools while grow­ing up to cope with the many stres­sors in our lives. But, there are peo­ple out there who seem to have an idea of how to stay opti­mistic in these chang­ing times. I spent much of my adult life per­plexed by their good natures, and even more con­fused by their good will, until I learned that there were prin­ci­ples — and, by prin­ci­ples, I mean uni­ver­sal truths — that I could apply to my own life and lit­er­ally change how I felt, not only about myself, but about the world around me.

Some of them seem like com­mon sense, but you need to under­stand going into the exer­cise that read­ing these prin­ci­ples and actu­ally prac­tic­ing them in your day-to-day lives are two entirely dif­fer­ent things (and that the lat­ter requires vig­i­lance and will­ing­ness). The phrase, “eas­ier said than done” applies here. But, the truth is, if you’re read­ing this, then chances are you’re in the same place I was when I first dis­cov­ered these prac­tices; and that means you’re ready.

Here are the 12 Spir­i­tual Prin­ci­ples I try to live by on a daily basis:


    There’s this thing called The Seren­ity Prayer which goes some­thing like this: God, grant me the Seren­ity to accept the things I can­not change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wis­dom to know the dif­fer­ence. What painful, awful thing in your life are you accept­ing that, in all truth, you can actu­ally change? Once you deeply accept that only you have the power to move for­ward in your life, then you can take the action to do it. But there are also things that you can­not change, and the work here is to accept that you can’t man­age that sit­u­a­tion or this per­son or that thing. There is power in pow­er­less­ness also, because it frees you from con­flict and allows you to enjoy the rest of your life with real aplomb.


    You’d be sur­prised how many lies I told myself and how many times I suf­fered because of them. Indeed, the lies I told myself fed into the lies I told other peo­ple and left me iso­lated when all I ever craved was con­nec­tion. Can you believe that? My cure for lone­li­ness was iso­la­tion. But I changed all of that when I started to speak my own truth and gave the peo­ple around me the oppor­tu­nity to truly know who I was and what I stood for. We live in fear of what other peo­ple will think or say about us, but do you really want those kinds of peo­ple in your life today? Tell your truth; embrace who you are and let the naysay­ers know that, if it’s going to make a dif­fer­ence as to whether they love you or not, then it should start mak­ing a dif­fer­ence Now.


    I have a friend who, for one morn­ing every month, pre­tends to be blind. He wakes with­out open­ing his eyes, fum­bles his way to his kitchen to make cof­fee then heads off to the bath­room to shower and brush his teeth. He eats a bowl of cold cereal and dresses him­self and doesn’t allow him­self to open his eyes until he gets behind the wheel of his car to go to work. And he does this so that he can live in grat­i­tude of the many gifts in his life, least among which is the gift of sight. I try to prac­tice grat­i­tude also, although not with as much verve as my friend; but I rec­og­nize that, in today’s world, it is easy to become enti­tled and walk around with a sense of indig­na­tion and lose sense of the things that really mat­ter, and fall away from grat­i­tude. Every­thing in your life is worth explor­ing, whether it be the fact that you can walk and run or the knowl­edge that, if it ever gets to be too much, the world is designed to accom­mo­date you and help you not feel so aban­doned or alone.


    We come into the world, each of us, with our own bag­gage (some­times it’s an aban­don­ment issue; some­times it’s sim­ple trust issues, etcetera). We acquire these as chil­dren, but we dis­cover that these lessons no longer serve us in adult­hood, and we become forced to re-parent or reed­u­cate our­selves. Part of this means learn­ing how to trust our friends and part­ners and spouses. These rela­tion­ships are impor­tant and you need to think of them as a care­fully con­cocted stew of love and patience and under­stand­ing. When we dis­trust the peo­ple clos­est to us, what we are actu­ally doing is adding neg­a­tive ingre­di­ents to the pot — jeal­ousy, pos­ses­sive­ness, sus­pi­cion … of course, they are going to react in a neg­a­tive fash­ion. And we are often shocked when con­flict arises, but it is con­flict that could have been avoided if we’d made a con­scious deci­sion to come from a place of love than one of antag­o­nism and unrest. Peo­ple are some­times going to let you down. This is a fact of life. But it is our respon­si­bil­ity to not cre­ate an arena for them to do so.


    My wife is an amaz­ing woman. I am in awe of her, but still got a bit resent­ful one night when I did the din­ner dishes and didn’t get so much as a thank you when all was said and done. It was then that I real­ized that I was look­ing for a pay­off for sim­ply being of ser­vice, and that was when my life changed. It isn’t an act of kind­ness if you expect some­thing for it, and once you remove the pay­off from the equa­tion, you will find your­self cat­a­pulted to the next level of true self­less­ness, and that is the under­stand­ing that the reward for lov­ing is lov­ing; the reward for being of ser­vice is being of ser­vice. And the self-esteem that comes from reach­ing out and help­ing other peo­ple is invalu­able. Because it gets you out of your own head and helps you not feel over­whelmed by prob­lems or other con­cerns. It helps you feel connected.


    It never ceases to amaze me how sen­si­tive I am. Peo­ple who care about me — who I know absolutely love me — will some­times point out one of my idio­syn­crasies or talk about some­thing stu­pid I did in mixed com­pany and, for a long time, it would hurt my feel­ings and I would over-react. Granted, we all need to mon­i­tor how we are per­ceived (you don’t get a sec­ond chance at first impres­sions), but learn­ing how to laugh at your­self can help build stronger rela­tion­ships. You fam­ily and friends should not be made to feel as though they need to walk on eggshells around you; it’s up to You to cre­ate a safe, non-judgmental space for those around you because it is only in this space that you can expe­ri­ence the joy of authen­tic laugh­ter. And, the fact of the mat­ter is, I can’t pos­si­bly be the only one to leave a pub­lic restroom with toi­let paper stuck to the bot­tom of my shoe.


    Your past is inescapable, your future is unavoid­able, but your present is for­ever unre­strained. We some­times spend more time obsess­ing over things that have hap­pened and dread­ing some unfore­seen future that we for­get the sim­ple truth that, right now, in this moment, we are okay. No mat­ter what is hap­pen­ing, even now — read­ing this — you are okay. Take a breath. Enjoy this one, per­fect moment, because it is yours. You have plans and oblig­a­tions, sure, but we’re not there yet; right now, it’s just us, liv­ing in this won­der­ful moment, and rev­el­ing in the fact that, in and of our­selves, we are com­plete, we are wor­thy of con­nec­tion, and we are enough. When things get hec­tic, remind your­self of this and get cen­tered. Only in the moment are we ever our per­fect selves.


    This was a hard one for me to learn. But then I real­ized that a lot of the con­flict in my life was of my own design. I had to adopt a new way of relat­ing to other peo­ple. I had to ask myself, “Does this need to be Said?”, then, “Does this need to be said Now?” and finally, “Does this need to be said By Me?” The three sim­ple ques­tions, in one fell stroke, elim­i­nated so much pain and drama in my life that it left a huge space in my life that could only be filled with a new influx of love and under­stand­ing. Not only did peo­ple sud­denly want to be around me, but the prob­lems that I thought could only be man­aged by me seemed to work them­selves out on their own. I had, for lack of a bet­ter term, inad­ver­tently learned how to get out of God’s way.


    This one’s a hard pill to swal­low, because I’m not a huge advo­cate of “Turn The Other Cheek”; I believe that you have to talk about (and really process) some wrongs that have been done to you before you can get to the part where for­give­ness is pos­si­ble. But, I also believe that it gets eas­ier every time you do it, and that the emo­tional work involved is worth the effort it takes to get there. Some trans­gres­sions are unfor­giv­able, true. But most aren’t. Bear in mind, I am not telling you to run out and for­give every­one; I am telling you to LEARN to for­give, because that’s where the spir­i­tual growth will come from: it will come from the jour­ney toward forgiveness.


    I have a friend who is a huge naysayer when it comes to new con­cepts and ideas. The sim­ple truth is, he’s so busy see­ing THROUGH every­thing that he can’t See ANYTHING. And, sadly, as a result, he will always be right where I left him, because his capac­ity for growth is stunted by his inabil­ity to embrace new ideas. But this doesn’t have to be YOU. Allow your­self to have an open mind. Accept that even the worst-dressed per­son at the party may have some­thing inter­est­ing to say to you and put your hand out to say hello. Redis­cover your sense of won­der. No mat­ter how old you are, the world still has a lot to show you. We are not human beings hav­ing a spir­i­tual expe­ri­ence; we are spir­i­tual beings hav­ing very Human expe­ri­ences. Avail your­self to each and every one.


    I can­not tell you how much time and energy I wasted search­ing for some sort of out­side “thing” to fix me. And every­where I went, the answer was always the same: We’re Per­fect. In and of our­selves, we are whole and com­plete. Inner Peace comes from accept­ing this as Your Truth. Granted, there are things about our­selves that we can change, and there are out­side things that we can acquire that will enrich the qual­ity of our lives, but none of those things are the des­ti­na­tion of any spir­i­tual jour­ney; every spir­i­tual jour­ney is designed to help you find your­self. Because it is only when you’ve found, accepted, and learned to love Your Self that you are capa­ble of con­nect­ing with any­thing else, whether it’s other peo­ple, your fam­ily, or a God of your own under­stand­ing. Believe it.


    Maya Angelou is a cel­e­brated Amer­i­can author and poet who once taught that Courage is the most impor­tant of all the virtues because, with­out it, you can­not prac­tice any of the oth­ers con­sis­tently. It takes Courage to Love. It takes Courage to be Hon­est and to speak your own Truth. It takes Courage to For­give. It takes Courage to Reach Out and Help Other Peo­ple. The list goes on and on. I had to learn very early on how not to let Fear dic­tate my behav­ior ; I had to learn how to not let Fear inform my deci­sions. You can do this, too. I promise you. It’s in you. If you’re read­ing this, then you’re ready to take a few chances and truly Grow. And, if worse comes to worst, keep this in mind: A Tur­tle can­not walk — it can­not move for­ward — unless it sticks its neck out.

Author Bio
Howard C. Samuels, Psy.D.
, author of Alive Again: Recov­er­ing from Alco­holism and Drug Addic­tion, is an inter­na­tion­ally renowned recov­ery expert. He is the founder and pres­i­dent of the pres­ti­gious The Hills Treat­ment Cen­ter in Los Ange­les and he appears reg­u­larly on national TV news shows about the chal­lenges of drug addiction.

For more infor­ma­tion please visit http://www.thehillscenter.com, and fol­low the author on Face­book and Twit­ter

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