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My previous post entitled “Spiritual But Not Religious Ranks Growing in the U.S.” referred to a Pew Research Center study that found more than 20% of the population in the United States describe themselves that way – and the number is rising.

The increase is fairly consistent across multiple age groups and education levels, and if you’re comfortable with that designation, you’re less likely to identify with a specific religious group, and your open to and searching for something more.

But what does the word spiritual really mean?

The word spiritual is used to describe that which relates to the human spirit. It goes beyond the material.

Spirituality can embrace aspects of several different religions or no religion at all because it recognizes that there is wisdom that can be experienced from many different paths. The common destination is the creation of a life that not only resonates with your soul and spirit but empowers you to live your best life – in all aspects – spiritual, emotional, and physical.

Spirituality is about appreciating all aspects of life fully. Most of us have learned to experience the world in a very superficial way, and a hurry-up, rush-rush style of living doesn’t exactly encourage introspection. There is so much more to life, and often, it’s just below the surface.

What about Authenticity? Why is it important?

Authenticity is about living a life that’s undisputed and genuine, what’s REAL and true about you. Living an authentic life means that you value authenticity and that your values reflect your desire to leave behind the game-playing and false faces.

A lack of authenticity can also wear on your spiritual life – when you don’t feel authentic, or your actions don’t hold to what you truly value in your life, it creates stress. Here’s a good working definition of being authentic from

Being authentic means coming from a real place within. It is when our actions and words are congruent with our beliefs and values. It is being ourselves, not an imitation of what we think we should be or have been told we should be.

If you’d like to  cultivate a spiritually authentic life, start with this list of 9 suggestions:

1. Practice openness. Our tendency is to judge things by our past experiences – that’s a habit of perfectly imperfect human beings. When faced with something new, try instead to keep an open and non-judgmental mind. New opportunities to learn and expand your perspective are all around you. Attaining a higher sense of spirituality requires being open to the possibilities.
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2. Learn to listen. Few people really listen. Most of us are simply waiting for our turn to talk and listening on a somewhat surface level for that opportunity to jump into the conversation. But living a spiritually authentic life on all levels is not just about listening with your ears. Spiritual authenticity is also about listening with your heart and discerning with your spirit to hear what the world is trying to communicate to you.

3. See the beauty in people, things, and situations. Part of spirituality involves seeing the truth – and that also brings in the concept of authenticity. There is beauty to be found in nearly everything and recognizing it is part of recognizing the truth.

    • When you see the truth, you come to realize there are very few things to worry about.

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4. Spend some time in nature. There are few things more spiritual than sitting in nature with the sun on your face and the breeze pressing against your back. Experience the trees, grass, flowers, and birds in your surroundings. Take the time to notice things that might have previously escaped your notice, like the songs of birds or the humming of bees.

5. Look for the bigger picture. The mere act of wondering about the universe and what it all means is an exercise in deepening and noticing your individual spirituality.

  • Consider your purpose and true meaning to the world. What is the greatest gift you have to give?

6. Developing a Spiritually Authentic Life is ultimately about self-discovery. It can be considered the art and science of discovering who and what you really are, and where that fits into your plan for your life and your personal development. Give yourself the gift of time to explore, and the gift of commitment to the journey – no matter where you are now, you can begin a productive forward path to your spiritually authentic life.

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7. Stay focused on the present. Living in the past or the future isn’t truly living. Life can only be lived right now, and splitting your focus also splits your energy and intentions. Part of being spiritual is recognizing that living an authentic life today leads to good things tomorrow.

  • Spend time each day focusing only on the moment you’re currently experiencing.
  • By focusing on your thoughts, words, and actions today, you have the ultimate amount of control over your life and your emotions.

8. Love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, how will you ever feel comfortable enough to present your true, authentic self to the world? We’ve all done things the wrong way and come up short numerous times, but it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) define us. It merely describes us in a certain situation at a certain time.

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9. Allow yourself to be inspired. To fully learn about and express your Spiritually Authentic self, it’s important to experience new things, meet new people, read new books, and explore other modes of spirituality and worship. Only by being exposed to everything that interests you can you learn everything there is to know about yourself and develop your personal sense of discernment so that you can choose what resonates with you and what’s worth implementing in your life.

If you’ve ever been dissatisfied with your life and thought, There must be something more…” you’re absolutely right. There’s a whole lot more!

Learning about yourself and your place in the world might even be the true meaning of life. Take the next step on your journey of decision and discovery, starting with a daily practice of expanding your spiritual authenticity.

Check out my Spiritually Authentic Woman Daily Checklist for a no-obligation way to check in on your spiritual journey and empower yourself to create and manifest a spiritually authentic life.

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About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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