Seven Spiritual Habits

Developing good spiritual habits is one way to enhance your progressive God experience because, by doing so, you are more inclined to have spiritual responses to everyday predicaments. By fostering good habits, you can change your behavior and, more importantly, stimulate your soul growth. It’s an effective way to expand and enlarge your spiritual self.

Creating habitual responses increases the likelihood of making the right (moral) choice whenever a challenging situation arises. Spiritual habits not only enhance your strength and character, but also help you to avoid mental conflict; they are restful, providing a way to conserve your spiritual energies.

Like all spiritual transitions, let the Spirit do its work. Instead of trying to get rid of bad habits with an austere or draconian approach, it’s more constructive to create new and better habits using a believing and positive approach.

There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt.

– Buddha

Forming new habits requires a mindful process of monitoring your thoughts, behaviors, and choices to see if they conform to your spiritual ideals, divine realities, and desired attitudes. It takes time and persistence and a consistent awareness of all thoughts, emotions, and biases. With spirit guidance, you can discern which ones need to be intercepted and corrected. And by repeating these corrections over time, you deeply embed an improved morality into your character and, eventually, this better way of living becomes a very real part of you.

Jeremy Dean, a psychologist and the author of Making Habits, Breaking Habits (2013), claims that it takes about 21 days for repeating behavior to form a habit. Another study by the psychologist, Phillippa Lally, and her colleagues suggests that learning a new habit takes an average of 66 days before it becomes automatic. But the full range of days varies, and a lot depends on the individual, some took 18 days while others took as many as 245 days. The lesson here is that developing better habits is possible for everyone, but it takes persistent effort and patience, even in partnership with God.

The new habits we wish to create include both thinking habits and acting habits. These are not entirely separate in concept as there is always some interplay between the two. Changing your thinking can change your actions, while changing your actions can affect your thinking.

Creating good habits does not necessarily mean having to make monumental life-changing decisions, at least not right away. By changing the little things first, you prepare your mind for greater things later.

Habits make or break us to a far greater extent than we like to admit.

– W.W. Atkinson

The seven spiritual habits listed below are just a few suggestions. You can easily add others, such as “to understand and love one more person today.” These are positive and constructive habits intended to focus your mind on spiritual realities and divine values.

  1. Appreciate spiritual living in others.
  2. Share your spiritual life with others.
  3. Cultivate and promote divine values.
  4. Become Self-less.
  5. Meditate on cosmic meanings.
  6. Live in the presence of God.
  7. Contact your inner Spirit.

We can also add to this list the important habit of worshipful problem solving. This topic is treated separately in another post – Divine Problem Solving.

Appreciate Spiritual Living

You may be surprised at how much this habit can change your point of view. By making an effort to recognize the spirituality expressed in the lives of others, you become aware that spiritual living is more prevalent in society than you may have anticipated. You come to acknowledge that a good number of people exhibit or express spiritual ideals in their everyday lives (regardless of their beliefs). By appreciating the spirituality of others, you realize that you are not the only one on this journey and subsequently, you are less inclined to be self-righteous or pompous about your own state of spiritual growth.

Image by Noabim

Some see religious living as enactments of prayer or worship, or attending churches or synagogues. Others see it as posturing for meditation, doing Hatha yoga, or chanting the Hare Krishna. All of this can have meaning, but spiritual living is more than any overt religious practice or ritual. Instead, it is an inner journey that requires sincere contact with the Spirit of God living within you. There is no “right” ritual or practice. God is not a petty despot always watching to make sure you perform some ancient ritual correctly. Spiritual living comes about simply by following the good and loving lead of the Spirit. No compulsory rituals are required. It is spontaneous, honest, and heartfelt—it is being born of the spirit.

Trusting God with perfect faith is a sign of religious living. But so is being kind and loving, courageous and enthusiastic, cheerful and considerate. Spiritual living embraces generosity, patience, and humility among many other admirable traits (see Spiritual Attitudes for the Soul). In fact, all of us are spiritual to some degree or another, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.

Those who are truly sincere and free from affectation also express spiritual qualities. Those who are undeterred by failure and disappointment, who forge ahead regardless of all setbacks, are living out spiritual ideals.

Religious living means being aware of spiritual realities but not being bound by tradition or dogma. Among many things, it is being enthusiastic but not fanatical, courageous but not reckless, sympathetic but not sentimental. It’s living a balanced life completely dedicated to the spirit way.

Religious living is devoted living, and devoted living is creative living, original and spontaneous. 100:4.1

– The Urantia Book

Try to find and appreciate the spiritual qualities in others rather than being quick to judge or criticize. By doing so, you will find it much easier to love them, and you will come to understand that the celestial agencies all around us are working to improve life for everyone.

Share Your Spiritual Life

Sharing your spiritual experiences with kindred spirits bolsters your faith in the spiritual process, magnifies your aspirations, and strengthens your character. And by openly expressing your experiences and ideas to others, you avoid the dangers of social isolation, extreme views, grudges, or resentments.

Sharing your experiences and confiding in others are potent remedies for loneliness, self-absorption, and intolerance. Strong, intimate relationships are key to a happy and healthy spiritual life, and there is no better place to begin than with family and trusted friends. Opening your heart to others is how you deepen your love, grow in spiritual grace, and enhance your knowledge of truth.

Image by Agata

Sharing your life does not mean you are trying to convert others to your point of view. You are simply sharing your experiences, expecting nothing in return. And, of course, you are willing and eager to listen to others, just as you would like them to listen to you—with respect, patience, and understanding.

Sharing your inner life is much easier and more rewarding when you talk to kindred spirits who have similar beliefs and goals. It is not helpful to try to share your spiritual thoughts and experiences with people who are simply not interested.

If there are few people in your life who wish to share their spiritual longings, try going to a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple. The people you meet may not share all your beliefs or even think like you, but most of them are eager to talk about their experiences. If you don’t like one place, try another until you find a few people who are willing to engage in meaningful discussion. You will soon discover you are not alone in your spiritual adventure.

You do not have to see alike or feel alike or even think alike, in order spiritually to be alike. 141:5.1

– The Urantia Book

Cultivate Divine Values

Another rewarding habit is to become sensitive to divine values. Divine values are predicated on spiritual realities and, therefore, are synonymous with spiritual values (see Four Divine Values). Love is a divine value, as are goodness, truth, and beauty. Thoughtful meditation on just these four values of divinity will enhance your ability to evaluate yourself, your society, and your nation in the context of spiritual standards.

You become sensitive to divine values by looking for them, finding them, and then taking the time to integrate them into your daily life. Your devotion to these higher values becomes your paramount guide for improving moral behavior.

Another thing of divine value is personality, which includes personality relationships. Personality (the uniqueness that is us) is a gift of God and, as a consequence, we all have spirit potential—the potential to be eternally real. As persons, we are all valuable, we are all entitled children of God (see You Are a Special Creature).

Personality represents man’s highest concept of human reality and divine values. 161:1.9

The Urantia Book

Recognize the value of all personalities and appreciate that everyone has a Spirit Teacher within them. By doing so, you become more tolerant, respectful, and loving toward others. To paraphrase Immanuel Kant, everything non-spiritual is simply a means to an end, but every personal relationship is an end in itself.

Our initial outlooks and basic values in life were largely determined in our youth when we were easily influenced by our families, friends, acquaintances, peers, and communities. But we can benefit spiritually by continuously reassessing our social environments in relation to our improving values and, if necessary, we can pick up and relocate to a healthier and happier milieu.

Even our choice of entertainment can greatly affect our spiritual sensitivities. I recognize that this is a controversial topic, but it is hard to imagine that war games, zombie movies, and endless sci-fi dystopias can, in any way, encourage moral insights. In effect, these are disturbing states of virtual reality that cloud any sense of morality by normalizing hate, violence, and ugliness.

Take the time to cultivate your sensitivity to divine values. Try to express them in your life by taking a compassionate, caring attitude. Help others, discern truth, appreciate beauty, and affirm the inherent goodness of God residing in all humanity.

Become Self-Less

By animal nature, we are all inclined to be selfish. The main exception in this regard is the protection that most animals, particularly females, give to their offspring. The same applies to humanity, as evinced by the selfless love that wise parents, both mothers and fathers, offer freely to their children.

Selflessness is inherent in parental love. 2:6.4

– The Urantia Book

Becoming selfless requires a degree of mindfulness, which means monitoring our thoughts for self-centered notions and selfish desires. But this does not imply we should completely forget about ourselves, our material needs, or our personal quest for knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual maturity. Even so, the overriding goal of a selfless life is one of consideration, cooperation, teamwork, altruism, and fairness. These are the hallmarks of selfless living.

How do we identify selfish motives? Selfishness means we invariably push to the front of the line or hoard all things to ourselves. It means we live self-centered lives that ignore the needs of others, we try to take advantage of others, or we avoid responsibilities to our family, friends, business associates, and communities.

Anyone who wants to be the first, must be the last and the servant of all.

– Jesus of Nazareth

In any human society, selfishness is neither reasonable nor ethical. Living together requires working together and it requires respecting the rights of others. We are social animals that need each other; we do not function well in selfish isolation.

Unmitigated selfishness affects the whole of humanity. There can never be any real peace on earth or fellowship among nations when selfishness runs rampant. Selfish interests, selfish ambition, selfish governments, and selfish nations cannot possibly advance world civilization to any meaningful degree.

While the consequences of selfishness may be communal or national, the cure is individual. To promote selfless living, learn the practical and wise value of cooperation and teamwork.

Contemplate the selfless nature of a caring God who administers the universe with love and compassion. There is no such thing as selfishness in the spirit realm (see also Forget Yourself).

Meditate on Cosmic Meanings

The cosmos includes the whole universe and all that is in it, including personalities, energies, minds, and spirits. Cosmologies are an attempt to explain the meaning of the universe, as well as the meaning of all things in it. This includes any attempt to understand the physical structure of the universe, as in the study of astronomy, physics, or geology. But it also includes all attempts to explain the creation of the universe and the existence of life, even concepts of time.

Almost all societies have cosmological beliefs, or explanations for the creation of the cosmos. The creation story of the Bible is a Christian cosmology, the creation story in the Rig-Veda is a Hindu cosmology. And there are numerous stories from around the world that are similar in nature. Even the current creation theory of science, the Big Bang theory, is another creation story.

Parts I and II of The Urantia Book reveal a completely different cosmology, going into great detail about the divine creators of the cosmos, as well as the physical, mindal, and spiritual nature of creation and the many creatures existing within it. It also explains why we exist and gives us some idea about our eternal destiny. In doing so, it reaches far beyond the limits of the physical sciences.

Science seeks to identify, analyze, and classify the segmented parts of the limitless cosmos. Religion grasps the idea-of-the-whole, the entire cosmos. 102:3.10

The Urantia Book

Understanding cosmic meanings is coming to grasp the meaning of the whole, the parts of the whole, and the relationships among them all. It is contemplating the true nature of the greater cosmos, as well as the connections and relationships between and among all things in the universe. The meanings we derive from the cosmos have much to do with the depth and scope of our individual values, morality, and ethics.

Meditating on cosmic meanings includes a consideration of the ideal interpersonal relationships for all who live in the cosmos, an ideal guided by universal, divine values such as goodness, truth, beauty, and love. On an intimate level, it is an attempt to view all things and experiences in your life in the context of these values. Ponder the cosmos as one creation; one magnificent system—the interconnected and unified creation of an infinite and eternal Source—the God of all creation.

A search for cosmic meaning helps us to evaluate our lives within a universal frame of reference—within the big picture. It is our evolving grasp of the nature of the cosmos, one created by God and maintained by God. Indeed, meditating on cosmic meanings is one path to God consciousness.

Cosmology leads to the pursuit of divine reality values—to God-consciousness. 56:10.8

The Urantia Book

Almost all cosmological systems consider relationships of energy, mind, life, and spirit. This includes personal relationships. And by far, the most meaningful cosmic relationship (and one we can easily understand) is the deep, personal connection we have with the divine Source of all reality—we are all spiritual children of a spirit God.

We are all mortal but, by the grace of God, we have the potential to be immortal. And while our ultimate destiny is unknown to us, it is suffice to say that we are destined for much greater things than we could possibly imagine at this stage of our existence.

The universe is evolving physically, intellectually, and spiritually, and God’s supreme design of progressive evolution embraces the life experiences of countless beings, including all others who live on the many inhabited worlds of space.

Cosmic meanings make more sense when we grasp the reality of our cosmic citizenship; that we truly belong in this near infinite universe. We become more aware of the reality and need for cooperative cosmic relationships—not just with other people or celestial beings, but also with a loving parental God.

When we happily accept our universe citizenship, we come to an honest recognition of our joyful obligations to God and the growing universe. Grasping cosmic meanings culminates in an awareness of cosmic duty—our duty to follow God’s path.

See also Cosmic Consciousness.

Live in the Presence of God

Probably the most important habit of all is to foster the habit of living in the presence of God. This is a very effective mental technique because, in reality, we do live in the presence of God. More important, this awareness changes our way of thinking ; it changes our whole attitude to the world around us.

Even though you may not be fully conscious of God’s presence, you can make considerable progress by first accepting it as a truth and then by doing your best to remain aware that, because of the spirit within you, God is actually with you at every moment of your life.

The secret of his [Jesus] unparalleled religious life was this consciousness of the presence of God; and he attained it by intelligent prayer and sincere worship. 196:0.10

– The Urantia Book

God is eternally present within all of us, but any awareness of this presence is determined by the degree of our personal cooperation with the Spirit. Our ongoing relationship with God is progressive and reciprocal, and it is always evolving—the more we live according to the way of God, the more we feel his presence in our daily lives.

When you feel the presence of God, you will come to know that this Divine Source is kind, loving, respectful, sympathetic, and always willing to help. God is not an overbearing tyrant who constantly chides your mistakes, scolds your past, or admonishes your behavior. Think of God as an affectionate parent and a good friend—an all-loving, all-wise, all-powerful, and divine friend.

It is not so important that you should know about the fact of God as that you should increasingly grow in the ability to feel the presence of God. 155:6.12

– The Urantia Book

The Spirit of God is always with you. It observes and monitors your life but will not participate in it if you don’t want it to. By living in the presence of God, you are consciously and graciously accepting his participation in your spiritual growth. You become more aware of the supernal character of a Supreme Being, which makes it easier—if not greatly desirable—to consciously share more and more of your innermost thoughts, feelings, and experiences with this magnificent and brilliant Being.

Put your creative imagination to work. Construct an ideal super-being, one who exemplifies your highest ideals of love, goodness, and beauty—a God who is perfectly wise and generously supportive. This brings to life your transcendent ideal as defined by Immanuel Kant. In short, this is the recognition that you can never be fully cognizant of the infinite and eternal nature of God because of the limited range of your perception and intellect. The best of your conceptions cannot portray the full power and glory of the Creator of a universe. Nonetheless, there exists a true God behind all your imaginings.

With your powers of creative imagination, you begin to approximate the true nature of an infinite and eternal God and, as you progress in the spirit, more of the truth of his character will dawn on you. For some of us, it helps to imagine what God would be like if he were human, simply because it is often easier for our minds to grasp and exemplify certain concepts and images when visualized in human form and expression.

Those who have seen me, have seen the Father.

– Jesus of Nazareth

You can, for instance, imagine the presence of someone you believe closely represents the loving character of God, like Jesus, Buddha, Teresa of Avila, or Mother Teresa. By placing these individuals in your inner life, you are able to view your problems and solutions as you would imagine a wise, impartial, and spiritual person would do. This is not to say you should worship these individuals. Instead, they set an example of thought and behavior that can help to bring you closer to the divine nature of your inner Spirit.

Contact Your Inner Spirit

As you become more aware of the presence of God in your life, make a daily habit of having a chat with him, which means talking to the Spirit within you—your God connector. Take the time to consciously share your thoughts and feelings with the Creator of a universe.

Communion—your personal interaction with God—is an effective means of opening a spiritual channel to connect with spirit forces. It is a method of creating and reinforcing a direct line to your Creator—a real and dynamic spiritual connection. And in return, it becomes a conduit that provides a continuous and beneficial stream of divine ministry and spiritual energy.

Communion is simply your fellowship with God and his angels, an affinity and rapport, a close and intimate association that works to bring you into full agreement with the way of God. It is the devotional act of cooperating and uniting with the spirit phase of reality.

Every time you interact, cooperate, or commune with God, you come a little closer to living a truly spiritual life. Whenever you openly and honestly share your thoughts and experiences with the divine Presence, you are in a state of divine communion. Whenever you work in partnership with God, you are having a religious experience—a God experience.

Even so, your first attempt to chat with God may feel a bit like talking to a wall. But take heart, because there is much unconscious activity going on within you. The positive power of communion releases vibrant, spiritual energies to your mind and soul, it unifies your life experiences as a spiritual whole, and it raises your consciousness to transcendent levels. The happy outcome of continuous interaction with God is a personal religious transformation—being born of the spirit.

God and the angels know your innermost thoughts, your true motivations, and your true desires. But no matter what these may be, God remains a good and loving friend in whom you can wholeheartedly confide and trust. The Supreme is your personal confidante, and you can rest assured that your communications, petitions, and venerations are heard and recognized.

Your Father knows what you need before you ask.

– Jesus of Nazareth

Some common ways to commune with God are meditation, contemplation, prayer, thankfulness, and worship. Whatever your views are about these methods, I hope to convince you that communion, in all its various forms, is a positive and powerful method of spirit contact that leads to increasingly progressive levels of spiritual living and God consciousness. For more on this, see the category Spirit Contact.

For more on the soul, see Your Soul – What Is It? and Spiritual Attitudes for the Soul.