Healthy 100 Articles

Maintaining Good Spiritual Health

Maintaining Good Spiritual Health

Tagged: Interpersonal Relationships

Spirituality involves a transcendent experience, which often brings into play emotions, thoughts and behavior. This topic is often difficult to discuss because of the personal and indefinable nature of faith and experience. To facilitate understanding and free discussion, it can be helpful from the outset to differentiate between spirituality and ordinary religion (or "religiousness")-factors that have a direct bearing on your spiritual health or spiritual distress, and your pain. 

More specifically, when I talk with patients about the meaning of true spirituality and good spiritual health, I like to distinguish between intrinsic spirituality and extrinsic spirituality or religiousness. Those who are intrinsically spiritual are typically deeply influenced in their daily decision-making, attitudes and actions by their spiritual convictions. For example, this kind of person might be inclined to read Scripture and meditate throughout the week, pray about small and large decisions, and understand the meaning of life in terms of his or her relationship to God.

In contrast, those who are extrinsically spiritual or religious tend to feature the outward behaviors of belief-such as membership in a religious organization or strict adherence to attendance or ritual.  But their involvement remains a surface affair rather than a personal experience or an affair of the heart.  With extrinsic spirituality, or religiousness, personal beliefs tend not to influence daily actions, decisions or a worldview to any degree.

By Scott Brady, MD

Author of Pain Free for Life

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