Many of us find ourselves at a point in life where we wander mindlessly through day-to-day living, reacting to events as they present themselves to us, but never really taking charge of our direction and purpose.
Karl Albrecht, PhD (physicist, military intelligence officer, management consultant and author of 20+ books) suggests that there are seven key principles, or strategies, that he believes serve as a foundation for successful living, leading to more meaning and satisfaction in our lives. Karl says that most of us live life on auto-pilot and need to be more mindful and aware of these spiritual truths in our daily interactions with our world.
These seven spiritual strategies can help you overcome doubt in your own capabilities, renew your sense of purpose and help you convey to others that you are on the path to a fulfilled life.
1. The Gratitude Principle
Adopting an attitude of gratitude has been proven through scientific research to improve happiness and health. (We showed you five ways gratitude can transform your life in this past blog post.)
Every day we are alive and every breath we take are gifts and we should not take them for granted. Being grateful for all that you have received in life, and having gratitude for all that has not befallen you, will clear away most of the negative thoughts that plague you throughout the day.
Want to experience 25% more happiness than that of the general population? Take a moment each week to write down five events over the past week for which you are grateful. It will transform you.
2. The Humility Principle
Humility is often misunderstood and underappreciated in our society. True humility means living in the truth, especially that we are all created equal. Humility does not mean allowing others to run all over you. It means living life without putting yourself below others, or getting into an ego competition and rising above others. Interior freedom comes when you stop squandering your energy on striving for importance and repurpose your energy to more creative endeavors in self-growth.
Humility strengthens social bonds. Research has shown that viewing others has humble facilitates greater commitment from individuals and groups than viewing others as egotistical and selfish. People are more willing to work with or sacrifice for individuals who are humble.
3. The Optimism Principle
Optimism is a proactive state of mind with a bias towards acting in such a way as to make good things happen. Optimism is not about positive thinking but about positive doing. It forms the very core of creativity, innovation, invention and reinvention.
Many research studies have shown that optimism has a real impact on the ultimate success or failure you have in life. Optimistic people tend to see a brighter future, making them more resilient in the face of day-to-day struggles.
Need help developing optimism? Take a cue from the Jesuits, who have been adding breaks to focus on mindfulness to their day for more than 500 years. Spend a few minutes each day either writing your thoughts or set goals for yourself to help you focus on your brighter future.
4. The Generosity Principle
Doing kind things for others is one of the very best ways to break free from the negative thoughts, self-pity and muck that may afflict you. Generosity always makes you come out of yourself and focus on others.
More and more studies are showing that generosity helps to reduce stress, supports and improves physical health, enhances one’s sense of purpose, naturally fights depression, and has even been shown to increase one’s lifespan.
There are simple things you can do to give to others: allow someone the right-of-way in traffic, give pocket change to a homeless person, do small favors for others without being asked, or just say something nice to someone to lift their spirits. You will find that your spirits will be lifted, too.
5. The Forgiveness Principle
Forgiveness is not about condoning or approving what someone has done. Rather, it is about letting go of it. If we divert our precious life energy into anger, resentment, revenge and retaliation, we are allowing our tormentor to victimize us all over again.
The secret to forgiveness is letting go of the anger. It does not mean you must forget or allow yourself to continue to be victimized. You can pursue a lawsuit or remove a person from your social circle, just do so calmly and without vengeance.
Empirical (research-proven) evidence abounds for practicing forgiveness often in your life: the better you are at forgiveness, the more likely you are to have lower stress, tension, depression, anxiety and anger. Forgiveness lets you reclaim creative energy to channel towards healthier purposes.
6. The Intention Principle
Understanding the intention principle means realizing that choosing something as the focus of your energy equals not choosing many other things. Basically, if you are unwilling or unable to make big choices in your life and act on them, you will be at the mercy of what life throws at you – never making progress and moving towards your goals and aspirations.
If you feel stuck and decisions seem too overwhelming, trying a process called chunking. Decide to take small steps towards achieving the larger goal rather than jumping in all at once to conquer it. Write down the steps you will take to help you focus your energy on what is important. But most importantly, just do it – make the decision and move forward.
7. The Expectation Principle
Expectation has to do with the way we program ourselves towards outcomes in our life. Many times we tend to emotionalize an experience, especially when we fail at something.
Rather, it would be better to frame your experience in such a way that you say “I wanted A, but ended up with B. I need to find a better strategy to get A.” Focusing your attention and energy on a new strategy to attain A would be more productive than focusing on the experience of failing.
Dr. Albrecht says that you have a right to succeed in life and applying his seven spiritual strategies in your life will help you keep your eye clearly on the ball and help your dreams to come true.
As a bonus, I believe you can add one more principle to this list: the hope principle. As we covered in a previous post, hope is one of the most important determinants of success in life. Research over the past 30 years has proven it.
People with hope have both the will and the means to achieve their goals. Hope allows you the ability to generate plans for the future and implement them. Envision a specific future goal, create pathways that lead to achieving your goal, and plan for contingencies.
So, when you doubt yourself or lose your sense of purpose, start to move forward by implementing one of these seven (plus one) spiritual strategies and experience a more fulfilled and successful life.