Seven Spiritual Steps to Feeling Better about Yourself
1. Give to Get
As strange as it may sound, giving to others is one of the most universal paths to feeling better about yourself. Most of the world's spiritual traditions teach the importance of selfless acts. Amazingly, the most selfless acts are the most rewarding - so everybody wins! Consider donating your time to volunteering with a cause you care about such as visiting people at a hospital, looking after animals at the humane society or
2. Good gangs.
Developing a sense of community is another very common spiritual practice amongst most religious traditions. Whether it is church or a meditation group, community helps us to not get lost in the drama of our own changes and doubts. As well, community helps us to keep perspective and acts as a support when we face hard times. Make sure you get involved with a group that is concerned about your well-being, and where you feel comfortable and respected. Hobbies, martial arts, yoga and meditation are all practices that are associated with groups and can be a lot of fun.
3. Learn a mind/body practice.
If you are most people your age, your body is your best friend and your worst nightmare. Mind/body practices like Tai Chi, yoga, and Qi Gong are all great ways to learn more about your body: who to look after it, how to control it and how to like it! You don't have to fit a certain image to do any of these powerful mind-body practices - they reduce stress while improving flexibility and fitness!
4. Life is Change
A very important and very common spiritual teaching is one that reminds us that the only constant thing in life is change. When we get frustrated with family, friends, relationships or even our bodies and how we look - its so important to remember that things will change with time. Lots of things that don't feel great now, may not be an issue in the future. Keep your mind open to change, and try not to invest too much worry in things that will pass and soon be forgotten: like pimples, a social screw up or an ex-boyfriend.
5. You are what you think.
Some spiritual teachers argue that this is the secret of life: you create what you focus on. If you look for the positive in situations you are more likely to find it. If you always think poorly of yourself, eventually your health and well-being will reflect that. Put your mind on what you are trying to create in this world, and not what you are trying to avoid. As you think so shall you become.
6. Honor Yourself.
A basic tenant in most traditions is that the body is a sacred gift. Whether we believe in God or a Mysterious Force, or just the amazing design of the universe, it is important to remember that your body is the vehicle for your heart, mind and soul. Make sure you care for yourself in the ways you eat, exercise, dress, and think about yourself. If you realized that your body is as sacred as a Temple and as valuable as a million dollar mansion, wouldn't treat it well? Most importantly, make sure that you set boundaries and healthy expectations with others. You are the keeper of the sacred place that is your body - not your friends or strangers!
7. A Higher Power
Finally, one guaranteed way to feel better about yourself, is to explore your relationship to a higher power. You can call this God, Krishna, Buddha, Allah, the Tao, the Force, or whatever you like. Honoring our heritage is important, but most important is our personal connection to this higher power. When you understand that there is a sacred and unseen force in this world that you and all things are a part of, its difficult to feel a lot of loneliness or anger. The presence of a higher power is something you can directly experience through many of these practices listed. Explore your ideas of spirituality on line or in a book. Just get started!