Spirituality is inclusive of all parts of a person’s life. A spiritual lifestyle is about cultivating the inner dimensions of deep meaning in everything we do. Physical health, career and livelihood, family and relationships, are all part of wellbeing and fulfillment. There must be a sense of connected wholeness between who we believe we are, who we aspire to become, and what we actually do in our daily life. A spiritual lifestyle is situated in the cosmos, amongst beings seen and unseen, gods and demons, forces we can control and forces beyond conception—and our life at the center of it all. Spiritual coaching is the process of discussing and deepening understanding of our beliefs about this vast and meaningful world, making sense of our place in it, setting our intentions, and reaching our goals.
In the tradition of the Ancient Greeks—the origin of western thought and civilization—philosophy and spirituality were synonymous. Philosophy is to think well and, more importantly, to live well. Philosophy is concerned primarily about death: at that moment, we know whether we have lived a life of meaning and purpose. Our daily lives and choices are about striving for true happiness—not merely sensual gratification, but eudaimonia: the satisfaction of trusting in our own ability to face hardships with moral character and resilience. Thus, all of our choices are significant and meaningful: we are either working toward, or away, from a life of value which, at death, will allow us to look back on our life with satisfaction and contentment. At it’s core, then, the philosophical and spiritual life is about cultivating moral character and virtue: the ability to respond to life’s many challenges with compassion and grace.
The spiritual lifestyle is about cultivating deep meaning and purpose. There are many sources of meaning that can come from great books, traditions and lineages, teachers and mentors, or our own inner insights. Purpose can be as vast as a hero’s mission granted to us by the Creator, or as personal as wanting to leave the world (or a room, or a relationship) a bit better than you found it. Meaning and purpose are inherently subjective: each person has a slightly (or very) different perspective on what is most important in life. An aspect of the spiritual life is accepting that what is meaningful to us may not be meaningful to other people. Not all parts of our inner life are subject to public scrutiny and approval, and we must nurture and protect our sense of meaning.
The spiritual lifestyle is deeply personal, yet also expressed in everything we do, say, and think. What we choose to study, what we do for our livelihood, the kinds of relationships we have (and don’t have), our hobbies and fun—all are expressions of our spiritual life. Nothing is not spiritual; it’s not as if we’re spiritual while we’re meditating or praying, and somehow not spiritual the rest of the time. Spiritual life can look like going to church, meditating, or going on retreat; but it can also look like watching the sunset, preparing a meal, or snuggling with family on the couch watching a movie.
How we earn money is an important part of our spiritual lifestyle. The modern world has become performance-oriented, with an attitude that we should be perpetually striving for material gains, spending our free time on a “side hustle,” and going viral on the internet. Whether we’re pursuing peak performance as an entrepreneur or CEO, or voluntarily living a simpler life on a homestead, our work is connected to our sustenance, shelter, and security. We can’t just check our virtue at the door when we clock in, but we don’t always have the option to work in an environment that aligns with our values. Navigating a career that supports our spiritual life is crucial.
The spiritual lifestyle can be at odds with the messages of mainstream culture: with unlimited objects to acquire and always a better version of the things we already have, there’s a perpetual sense of lack, and a subtle (or not-so-subtle) message that we’re incomplete. Cultivating a spiritual life is an antidote to this perpetual striving: we are finding what makes us whole, being satisfied with what we have, cultivating contentment as a way of life, and relying on our own virtue and resilience as markers for success. Ideally, we can find a balance, where we can be both fully in and of the world, while simultaneously nurturing a life of deep meaning and purpose.