When it comes to navigating the process of self-actualization, spirituality is one of the pillars. So comes the topic of religion, a God, and of course the ultimate purpose of ones being. I was raised in a Christian household. My grandfather was a very successful pastor. As a kid I remember vividly seeing him preach to hundreds of people on Sunday mornings. In my eyes he stood there 7 feet tall with hundreds of people glorifying his message and being uplifted from whatever darkness they were in. It was a very influential experience. However, as I got older and my mother struggled to keep the household together, church became less and less important. As I got older I started to grow further and further apart from the ideal Christian man. My values did not align with the church and I was very unaware of the possibility of being a good Christian man without having to attend church every Sunday morning.
In college, when I really started my journey in becoming a better version of myself. I dabbled in Buddhism, Islam, agnosticism, and some other religions. I do want to make it very clear that I never fully dived into them deeply. I was just interested in why they believed what they believed. What was so different at the core of what held them together, their beliefs. I will say some religions were of course more appealing than others and truthfully none were wrong in my eyes. What I discovered was that there was universal principles and moral compasses. To love oneself, to love thy neighbor, to have a high ethics, to do what you say you’re going to do, to be happy by having hope. The person you lean on for hope changes. However, overwhelmingly everyone has similar teachings.
To love oneself is by far the highest universal guiding principle. For the individual always has the decision to do or be. In Christianity we see it with the idea of free-will. To truly love oneself is to become aware of Gods calling and to pursue it. Listening to his words and having faith that his plan has been written for you. That is what loving yourself looks like, to have faith. If we remove the Christianity and look at it from a scientific viewpoint. It is not possible for you to be able to help others unless you have the energy and resources to do it. That starts by taking care of yourself first. Like the airlines tell us, please put your oxygen mask first before you help anyone else.
To love thy neighbor. The idea of loving your neighbor stems from scripture. It is found in the Bible, the Torah, and every religious scripture you can think of. It is commonly known as the golden rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. A very simple idea, yet, very hard to follow when your neighbor is an asshole. The hardest part is being disrespected and treated unfair when this rule becomes the ultimate test. It is one I struggle with to this day and I am consciously working on it. Any time I meet a very hard person to deal with, I tell myself, “this is an opportunity to become better”. I smile and move on but without fail sometimes I can be confrontational.
To have very high ethical standards. The idea of being the best version of yourself is rooted in having high self-esteem. When you love yourself and act in accordance with your beliefs you start getting into this virtuous cycle that spirals upwards. You tell the truth, you follow through on your actions, you don’t cheat, you begin to act like the ideal person your beliefs are rooted in. Which leads to happiness and hope. It is the action of doing, in which you find your happiness. The hope that you can become more and do more good.