The power of many is greater than the power of one. This is probably most notable when we come together during hard times. But we also see the magic of community in celebrations like weddings, birthday parties, and holidays. Even science supports the notion that having a connection to something greater than ourselves (spirituality, religious or non) makes us happier and healthier.
Sadly, we are often so busy in our daily lives we forget to be present. Instead, we find ourselves worrying about the future or ruminating over the past. Our hope lies in tomorrow being better than today. We can be happy and find peace when we have more money, more status, a bigger house, a nicer car, etc. The drive for “more,” however, is a never-ending game with no winner – there can always be more, even if only in our minds. As a result, with all that we have we feel anxious, depressed, and alone.
What if instead we took the time to notice all the beauty and wonderfulness that surrounds us? We could connect to that which is greater than us and which brings us closer to one another. For some, that could look like enjoying a moment, smelling the roses, calling a friend, being in nature, smiling at a beautiful day, relishing family time, etc. Others might find it in religion and prayer. And there will be those who will determine their practices based on their daily preference. The take home message is that there is no single approach. The one that most resonates with you, is the right one for you.
No matter how you do it, connecting to something bigger than yourself creates a sense of interdependence where we can nourish our individual growth while connecting to the world around, and even beyond, us. It is here that we experience peace, comfort, care, compassion, love, and joy.
And the benefits don’t stop there. Connecting to something greater than yourself has been shown to:
1) Increase longevity – Studies show that those with regular spiritual or religious practices make healthier life choices and as a result, live longer.
2) Promote greater positivity – Connecting to others helps us cope better during difficult times, allows us to feel together in community over alone and isolated, and provides more opportunities for celebration. As a result, it lowers incidence of anxiety and depression while increasing overall happiness.
3) Reduce stress – The stress of daily living is often exacerbated when we shrink into survival mode – feeling more alone, scared, anxious or depressed. Remembering that our experience is greater than what is happening to us in the moment helps us expand our vantage point and see the bigger picture. In that lies hope.
4) Boost our immune system – Prayer and meditation have been shown to enhance our immune system. This is thought to be the result of decreasing our perception of danger (fight or flight response) while promoting our sense of safety (rest, digest, and healing response).
5) Improve sleep – The stress of our daily lives often seeps into bedtime making getting a good night sleep challenging. Engaging in a spiritual practice helps process and release the worries, fears, anxieties, and frustrations of the day so that we can get a restful and more peaceful night’s sleep.
The next time you feel alone, are in need of comfort, or would enjoy expanding your experience, think of connecting to something greater than yourself. What that looks like will depend on you. Remember that opportunities to incorporate spiritual practices are plentiful. To begin, find one or two that resonate with you, set the intention to try them by picking a time and place to practice, and enjoy the journey.