Spiritual Principles Are Wonderful Creeds to Live By
The phrase spiritual principle is common terminology in recovery 12-step programs. However, you don't need to be a recovering alcoholic or drug addict to exercise this concept into your life. In fact, you may be just recovering from life and a lack of manageability that you may be going through currently. Regardless of why you are seeking out spiritual principles, the overall purpose of exercising them is the same; we use a spiritual principle to help us to become better people. A spiritual principle is a truth or creed that we choose to live by. They are different from values because they don't include things such as family or finances. They are universal concepts that help us to become better people. When we act like better people, our karmic actions usually contribute well-being to humanity and our society, and life becomes less challenging. Developing a spiritual principle does not happen overnight. To begin the healing process of your life, you have to have more than the definition of knowledge of the principle. You truly have to begin learning to apply it to everyday situations. This is why recovery incorporates spiritual principles into the steps. Recovery is a life-long process, and we can all be better people than we are today. Here are fifteen spiritual principles that will help you to focus your efforts. Don't take on more than one at a time. As we build a habit of living by a certain spiritual principle, we can do it effortlessly without much thought. However, if you try to take on too many at one time, you will be overwhelmed and give up on this journey before you have even really gotten started.
The Spiritual Principle of Tolerance and Patience
The root word of tolerance is to tolerate. Tolerate means to allow the existence or occurrence of something that you may not agree with, without interfering with it. It is easy to pick out the individuals who are not tolerant. Whether it comes to religion, politics, sexual orientation, race or many other critical issues in our society, there are many individuals who state their opinion. However, those who do not practice tolerance don't just voice their opinion, they take action, potentially causing harm or interference in a way that is not acceptable by society's terms. Yes, there are things in life that we do not agree with. We are all allowed to have opinions. When taking steps to incorporate tolerance as a spiritual principle, the first thing you should do is to learn to keep your mouth shut on things that you don't agree with. This is challenging for many individuals! It is okay to have an opinion. It is what we do with it that matters. To start learning tolerance, one thing that we can do is begin to look at things from other people's perspective. Ignorance often leads to misjudgment and criticism. When you don't understand something (truly just a lack of knowledge), it is easy to form an opinion about it. One motto that will help you to overcome this is to remind yourself that you don't know everything, and just because something is different, doesn't mean that it is bad. Tolerance and patience are closely related. When you start using tolerance as a spiritual principle, you will begin to let go of judgments, and you will become much happier and patient with the world around you. However, just a warning — the more tolerant you become, the more you will realize the lack of tolerance in the people around you. You will begin exercising patience the more that you practice tolerance. Patience is when you give things time. You allow things to happen and unfold as they intend to. These two spiritual qualities go hand-in-hand with one another.
The Spiritual Principle of Open-Mindedness
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Open-mindedness is closely related to tolerance. However, you have to be open-minded about something to even begin considering it. So, in the example of tolerance, you have to be open-minded to begin to accept other people's opinions or actions. In the twelve steps, open-mindedness is one of the fundamental spiritual principles. To recover your life and to begin the healing process, you have to be open-minded that there is another way to live. We have to believe that the way that we have always done things may not necessarily be the right way, and we have to be open-minded to both information and suggestions from those who have something to teach us. The more open-minded we are, the more we gain understanding. If we close off ideas or insights before we give them thought or credence, we are a living definition of a close-minded person. We don't like it when we try to offer a piece of advice, and someone just shoots us down. We don't like it if someone is completing a project and is stuck and frustrated, and we offer a different way of doing things, only to be ignored or even put down. Think of how many things that you have been close-minded about. Open-mindedness is a great way to begin healing your life, and following different spiritual principles because you will be engaged, thoughtful, and open to considerations you may not have been to in the past.
The Spiritual Principle of Intention
The definition of intention is a plan or objective. When you live by the spiritual principle of intention, everything that you do will align with the intention that you have. If you intend to attract love, everything that you do throughout the day will align to becoming a better person, meeting new people, etc. If you intend to live by another spiritual principle, you will keep that in the forefront of your mind, and all of your actions will align with that intention. Intentions stem from a belief that the universe will provide for you if you focus your thoughts and actions on it. If you "intended" to begin the healing process, the universe presented you with this particular article. Those who think with a purely logical and scientific mind don't believe in intention. However, those who live by a more spiritual creed believe that intention is related to the Law of Attraction. The movie/book The Secret is all about intention and calling out what you need to the universe. Each spiritual principle listed in this article can be an intention. If you plan on living by the intention of being honest, your thoughts, actions, attitudes and belief system will all align to honest. Intentions take away the mundane, thoughtless living that most of us experience on a day-to-day basis. Think about it — how many things do we do during the day have a lack of intention. This is why we say things we don't mean, do things we don't mean to do; we are not living with intention. This spiritual principle will completely reshape your life and will help you continue on your path to healing.
The Spiritual Principle of Compassion and Unconditional Love
Any spiritual guru will tell you that compassion is one of the most fundamental spiritual principles a person can have if they wish to contribute to humanity. Compassion is when you have sympathy, empathy and a concern for the suffering of others. Some of us exercise the exact opposite of this spiritual principle and wish or laugh at the misfortune of others. No one wants to be treated this way. When you exercise compassion, you truly listen to what others are saying, and to what they are not saying. Compassion is what unites individuals because we have all experienced suffering in one form or another. When you are compassionate, you don't look down at individuals for where they are at, and you don't think that you are better than them. Instead, you share their pain with an open heart. This is one of the most healing intentions for our society. Unconditional love follows compassion. It means that you love without condition. Many parents love their children unconditionally. We do not put boundaries — meaning, "I will love you only if you do this, or act this way." When we feel true compassion, we can exercise unconditional love.
The Spiritual Principle of Acceptance
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Acceptance does not mean we have to accept everything in the universe — especially the evil that is done to us. Acceptance means, especially in the twelve-steps, that not everything is in our control. When we practice acceptance, we are saying to the universe — okay. This is the hand that I have been given, and I am going to do the best that I can with it. Acceptance is when we allow things outside of ourselves to be as they are, without us trying to play God in a situation. Control is a major contributing stumbling block to our healing process. When we learn to practice acceptance, we learn what we can control, and what we have to allow just to unfold and take place. Many mottos are based on this, including the Serenity Prayer. Acceptance allows us to accept other people for where they are at in their healing process. It gives us a belief that we too can be better people because we can all improve our actions and attitudes. Practicing acceptance is difficult. Many of us want to control everything, including the weather. When we accept that it is raining outside and to grab an umbrella, versus just complaining about it because we cannot control it; things tend not to pester us as much. Therefore, we aren't as grumpy all the time. Therefore, we are kinder to people and situations. Acceptance brings about a positive outlook, and this can be contagious.
The Spiritual Principle of Hope and Faith
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The most positive spiritual principle is the belief in hope. When we look at the 12 steps, none of them would be accomplished if we didn't have hope that we could recover. If your life is a mess, having hope means that you are not and will not give up because the story isn't over yet. Hope is not futile. Many pessimistic individuals will say that hope is useless because you live in reality. Hope is about the future. It knows that "this too shall pass" and that whatever mess you are in can change in the future. By definition, it is the desire that something will happen. Desire is a powerful part of the intention. If we desire for our situation to remain the same, in the sad reality that we are currently in, there isn't much room for hope. However, when we exercise the spiritual principle of hope, we truly begin to see a brighter future for ourselves, our lives, society, and humanity at large. It may not happen in our lifetime, but it could happen one day if the desire is strong enough. Hope is what saves the lives of many individuals, and what brings about the strongest amount of healing to those who have the belief that life can get better. If anything, start with hope when you are deciding what spiritual principle to begin with. Having hope means you will develop intentions based on your hopes, you will be open-minded about how to get there, and so forth. Faith is an important part of the twelve steps and part of developing spiritual principles. It means to leap when you have no proof to back it up. Faith is what replaces fear. When we are scared that something bad is about to happen, we tend to make bad decisions. However, if we replace the fear with faith in a power greater than ourselves (the universe, God, whatever you want to call it), then we are not as scared about the outcome. Faith is closely related to acceptance. We accept that the universe will give us what we need when we need it and everything that we are going through happens for a reason — even if it is just to learn a lesson.
The Spiritual Principle of Honesty
Honesty is the best policy, right? It may be easier to practice the spiritual principle of honesty with other people, but you know you have mastered this spiritual principle when you begin getting honest with yourself. Now, honesty is being truthful. It means that you are not lying to manipulate. Yes, sometimes it is hard to be honest, especially with yourself. If you start practicing this spiritual principle, the less manipulative you become. The less you have to cover your tracks and keep your story straight. It is very difficult to practice honesty all of the time, especially when people's emotions are involved. However, you will learn that the more that you practice honesty, the more people will respect your opinion. You can be honest...and be tactful about it. There is no need to be rude. Honesty may just be a representation of your opinion, but there is no need to infiltrate society with even more trivial lies. It is easy to see that this is one spiritual principle that is not exercised commonly in humanity today, and no good comes from that.
The Spiritual Principle of Willingness and Surrender
The definition of willingness is being prepared to do something, being ready. Individuals in recovery believe willingness is an important spiritual principle because you are not just thinking about something; you are ready to do it. Being willing to heal your life is a big step. Being willing to exercise spiritual principles no matter the cost or difficulty is a big step also. Willingness means that you have done your research (from your now open mind) and you are now ready to put that into action. Willingness is closely related to action because all of these principles will become action words as you begin to exercise them. When we exercise the spiritual principle of surrender, we ask for help. When we stop thinking that we control everything, and when we realize that we need help in our healing process, we surrender to this power that is greater than ourselves. Surrender is a spiritual principle that we can focus on each day. When something happens that is out of our control; we can just let it go. It does not mean that we are weak. It just means that we are not willing to hold onto thoughts and expectations that are not healthy. Surrender means that you are willing to let go and try something different.
The Spiritual Principle of Humility
Humility is not thinking that you are better than anyone; it also means you don't think that you are worse than anyone as well. Humility means that you accept yourself for exactly where you are at in life and who you are. Humility keeps you on an even keel. It allows you to know where you are, what you can improve on, and what you can be grateful for. It is a form of personal acceptance. You don't boast or brag, nor do you put yourself down. You accept what is.
The Spiritual Principle of Gratitude
Gratitude: what an amazing spiritual principle. When you are thankful for everything that you have, even when you feel like you don't have anything, you are practicing gratitude. Many individuals in recovery will tell you that even when everything is crashing down, the number one thing to do is create a gratitude list. We all have something to put on our gratitude list. First of all, we are alive. We woke up breathing. There are some individuals around the world that did not get that privilege. We have homes, families, jobs, etc. And, even if we don't have the things above, we have at least one thing to be grateful for. Didn't get that promotion? That's okay, at least you can go home and eat a warm meal tonight. Exercising gratitude can save you from the worst of days, and even save your life.
The Spiritual Principle of Optimism
Optimism by definition sees the positive side of everything. You see the silver-lining in every dark cloud. You believe that no matter what, everything happens for the benefit. Whether you are learning a lesson or growing, even the worst of circumstances are occurring for some positive benefit. The spiritual principle of optimism makes you, and everyone around you, feel better. Be warned; those who are going through a hard time have a hard time hearing optimistic comments. They don't have hope or faith yet. Give them time. For now, enjoy the positive outlook that you develop. The spiritual principles that are listed about are just a stepping stone. Each one of them can be looked at even more deeply. Choose one to start with and begin incorporating it in. The more you practice them, the easier they become. The more you do them, the more they will become part of who you are.