Spirituality means different things to different people. For some, it's primarily about a belief in God and active participation in organized religion. For others, it's about non-religious experiences that help them get in touch with their spiritual selves through quiet reflection, time in nature, private prayer, yoga, or meditation.
Many people identify as spiritual but not religious: With a few exceptions, the percentage of adults who identify as religious in many industrialized countries is declining, while remaining generally high in less developed nations. Even as religious affiliation decreases, though, a sense of spiritual identification could remain steady or even increase.
The Benefits of a Spiritual Life:
No direct causal link has been established, but research has consistently found that religious involvement is correlated with better physical and mental health, including better sleep, lower blood pressure, and an overall lower rate of mortality. Higher levels of spirituality have also been linked to increased compassion, strengthened relationships, and improved self-esteem.
There may be a downside for people who avoid religion and spirituality altogether: Some research has indicated that eschewing “magical thinking” and being unable to identify patterns in the surrounding world may be linked to depression or anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.
Are spiritual people more generous?
People who have endured experiences of intense psychological turmoil, research finds, often emerge much more spiritual, and altruistic, than they were before—for example, they are more likely to donate a kidney to a stranger. What some would call a spiritual awakening leads such people to become less materialistic, more empathetic, and more generous.