My fifth signature strength and the final profile in this series is spirituality and a sense of purpose. The Values in Action inventory defines spirituality as: having coherent beliefs about a higher purpose, the meaning of life, and the meaning of the universe.
I am not sure I operate at such a high level of belief. My spirituality is less about something I wear on my sleeve or practice on Sundays and more a pervasive sense of caring and love with a desire to contribute to others.
I took the leafy picture on this post a year ago. I was trying to capture the shadow of the front window reflected through our back door. Just as I was about to take the shot, my son Luke walked into the frame and ruined the picture.
Or so I thought.
After a closer examination of the picture I was thrilled at how his shadow outline was filled with fern leaves. Now remember, as you look at this shot, Luke is standing behind me!
This is how I experience my spirituality — the living part of me connected to something greater than myself that is standing behind me (I bet you now see why it has taken me so long to write this post — I feel shy and somewhat reticent to make any strong declarative statements on this topic).
I appreciate the discussion of Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz on spiritual energy. Spiritual energy is derived from connecting to deeply held values and a purpose beyond one’s self-interest. As they state: we become fully engaged only when we care deeply and when we feel that what we are doing really matters. Purpose is what lights us up, floats our boats, feeds our souls.
I have had a difficult time writing this post. I feel my spirituality strongly but I don’t want to be perceived as flaky and I don’t want to have you think I am suggesting it is the way for you to be. I was born, baptized, and confirmed a Catholic but my spirituality has only a loose connection to my religion.
As a former Catholic I feel comfortable with confessions. I am a bedroom Buddhist.
Before you think this is something kinky, let me explain. I often read books on Buddhist psychology before I go to sleep. I am enriched by authors ranging from Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hahn to Jon Kabat-Zinn. I appreciate their insight, encouragement, and guidance to live more mindfully in the moment.
I have a quiet gentle spiritual nature and it is a quality I keep fostering more fully. I am like this baby sea turtle – the turtle was smaller than a golf ball. I found the turtle on the beach in Puerto Vallarta. It was going the wrong way. Instead of heading to the ocean, guided by the moonlight it was headed inland distracted by all the lights of the city. It is so easy to lose our bearing and head towards the light when we should be heading towards the sea. Spirituality is what guides me to plunge into the waves of relationships, connections, contributions, and playfulness. My wife and daughter gave the little turtle a helping hand and released it in the ocean.
Martin Seligman concluded Authentic Happiness with a discussion of the meaningful life. He stated the meaningful life is “using your signature strengths in the service of something larger than you are.” To me, this is a fine definition of leadership.
I sincerely hope the profiles of my 5 strengths went beyond self-interested navel gazing to encouraging you to more fully understand and leverage your personal 5 signature strengths in the service of others.