What is Spirituality

When you think of “spiritual”, what’s the first things that come to mind?

Hippies? Meditation? Yoga? New Age? “Namaste”? Supernatural? Religion?

What if I said spirituality is reflected in many more aspects of our lives than we think? 😮

✔️ In the Olympic athlete who surpasses the physical capabilities expected for the average human being.
✔️ In the wealthy person who was given “everything” from birth, yet still feels empty inside.
✔️ In the individual who had the worst of circumstances but found the will to triumph despite the odds.
✔️ In the sheltered adult who finds much excitement in attending events like Burning Man and Tomorrowland.
✔️ In the way 2 people can express love towards each other without a single word spoken.

Spirituality is not a religion. It’s not dogmatic, although it can certainly be treated as such. If I could try to simplify it as best as I could, I would say spirituality is an exploration into the subjective experience of life, understanding what it means to be a human being. In other words, it’s involves all of our lives, our entire world. 🌎

Science has the objective side covered with logic, rationale, and critical thinking (all still very important, by the way); spirituality is on the subjective side with the theoretical, the phenomena, the profound, and the soulful. Both in their own ways are in search of truth: understanding how the world works and why we’re here. 🕵️‍♀️

For those who knew me a few years ago I use to embrace a belief system of agnostic atheism. And for those who only just met me…plot twist haha! But I don’t embrace it anymore. I’d say if anything I embrace a form of secular (humanistic) spirituality these days, not focused on anything divine or supernatural but on the other human beings all around me. 🙌

I found that science didn’t have all the answers, so my journey brought me into spirituality. I had more realizations, more understandings, more experiences I cannot place into words, and voids I couldn’t fill with science. 👍

Let me clarify I’m not dismissing science at all either. Our civilization would not be where it is today without all the advances in technology, agriculture, and understanding on a molecular level without it. I embrace both science and spirituality as two forms in the search for truth. ☯️

I do notice sometimes though with the emotional fulfillment spirituality brings that one can easily throw out the baby with the bathwater. I caution with that, yet continue to welcome others who want to experience this other aspect of life. For me, a void has been filled. Science was not the endpoint. But neither is spirituality. And neither is my continued creation of meaning. 😁

Spirituality has been given a bad rap, and it’s far more than someone just being a hippie. I encourage you to take a dip. 😃 #TranscendLabels

Depression and the “Chemical Imbalance”

💬 “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” ~ Alexander Den Heijer 💬

As someone who was diagnosed with depression at an early age, I was told a common story: it was because of a chemical imbalance in my brain, I cannot help it, and medication is the primary go-to solution. At the time, medication was chosen because it was much cheaper and less time-consuming than therapy. It took less time and energy to focus on the solution. 👍

I went through multiple medications, had many levels of doses, and even combined them at a point. The depression persisted, went in and out. But today I would no longer honestly say I consider myself “having depression”. But I wouldn’t say it was because of medication…😲

Of course, I think it’s important to distinguish the difference between depression and everyday sadness, depression that is in fact stems from biological and genetic factors, and everyday sadness whose factors are far more complex, sadness that extends past the biological and also includes the psychological and sociological. 🤔

I believe these distinctions are VERY important in a world where mental health continues to be an increasing concern. Suicide rates have continued to increased for 18 years straight. According to the World Health Organization, depression is now the leading cause of illness with an estimate of 300 MILLION people affected. The World Health Organization even mentions how mental health can be very much affected by our environment. I find it more than reasonable to say the current solutions we’re providing and their effectiveness be placed under further scrutiny. 🔎

Despite this, I continue to hear the biological narrative more often than not as the primary cause. Much of this can be credited to our Western culture’s embrace of reductive physicalism, the idea that everything can be reduced down to its physical parts (biology, hormones, chemical reactions, neurotransmitters). It’s modern science, and I’ll add it’s fantastic we have individuals who are continually focused on these areas. They have great studies that show how our biology and genetics affect us (a great example is the story of Phineas Gage). 💯

But what if there are other factors we aren’t taking as much consideration into?

A few years ago I would’ve also been a part of the World Health Organizations’s statistics. I’m grateful to say I’m not anymore. But why? What changed in me to help with my depression?

👍 I started focusing on doing things in my life I was deeply passionate about.
👍 I started choosing to see problems as “gifts” I could learn from.
👍 I started challenging my own destructive habits. I quit drinking soda, coming from 3 to 4 cans a day. I started eating more plant-based foods. I started exercising. In turn I lost over 80 pounds.
👍 I started embracing the ideas of personal responsibility and self-reliance.
👍 I studied philosophy and saw there’s MANY more ways to look at life, including the definition of depression.
👍 I embraced a form of secular spirituality.
👍 I started meditating and becoming aware how my thoughts were controlling my life.
👍 I made it a daily habit to be grateful for something no matter how “bad” the day was.

From what I can observe, it wasn’t an antidepressant that “cured” me of depression; it was many lifestyle changes that were meaningful and purposeful. It wasn’t seeing depression as a biological defect that helped me alleviate its symptoms; it was changing my perspective on depression, seeing it instead as signs telling me something in my life needed to change because it kept occurring. 😲

Let me emphasize: I’m NOT against medication or antidepressants. What I’m expressing is my concern on the over-dependence of medication being unconsciously treated as the primary or only solution to our mental issues. They should definitely be an option, but not as a critic, it should also be known it is ONE OF MANY options. 👍

Depression and mental health is a sensitive topic for a lot of people. A few years ago I would’ve been in the same boat as the people who will be critical of what I’m sharing with you now. A few years ago I would’ve rejected hearing my current arguments because it doesn’t sound reasonable. 

It’s commonly accepted in our society to simply accept the “chemical imbalance” narrative which was heavily marketed way back when by pharmaceutical companies for antidepressants. I’ll add again: I’m NOT against antidepressants or even pharmaceutical companies for that matter. And I don’t ever plan on being in that camp. But I do believe there’s plenty of ADDITIONAL (and possibly even more effective) long-term options we should greatly consider implementing more of. 😊

The question I ask to myself (and with anyone): what is the story I have been telling myself in the past about my pain and suffering? Do I believe it can ONLY be helped with medication? Are there other options that may require me to do more work but that I don’t want to take the time to do? It’s hard to consider other viewpoints when we’re attached to what we already believe and perceive as “true”. 🤔

What if on the Nature/Nurture debate we’re spending too much time focused on the Nature explanations and spending too little time on the Nurture ones: our society, our environment, our peer groups, our politics, our poverty, our treatment of each other as human beings, etc?

I don’t want more people suffering, and with change also needs to come new ideas. It’s something to think about…


Sam Harris’s Podcast: https://samharris.org/podcasts/142-addiction-depression-meaningful-life/

“Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression” by Johann Hari

Imposter Syndrome

🌟 Don’t beat yourself up…

There’s a part of you that no matter how hard you work, it’s ready to tell you what’s missing from your life. There’s a part of you that no matter how much you believe you’re doing well, it comes knocking at your mental home to challenge you:

“Are you SURE you’re doing enough?” 💭
“Do you REALLY believe everything you say you are is true?” 💭
“Do you TRULY deserve what you’ve been given?” 💭

I’ve felt this in me before, multiple times in fact…

There’s the psychology term “imposter syndrome”. It’s the tendency to believe our achievements pale in comparison to what we believe we’ve actually done. To put it another way, we don’t feel the status, success, or fame we’ve received is equal to our own feelings of self-worth. In our minds it doesn’t feel like it’s “deserved”. We have this irrational fear we’re ultimately going to be exposed as a “fraud”. 👈

Would it surprise you to hear even the most famous of individuals have experienced these feelings? Individuals like Tina Fey, Maya Angelou, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, and even Meryl Streep have openly expressed feeling like this. Despite all the wealth, awards, and recognition they’ve received from other people, there’s a part of them that still at times self-doubt what they had accomplished in their lives.

What’s easy to forget on this journey called life is remembering all the achievements we’ve made. Now I’m not saying I’m a celebrity or am following the same path these individuals are. I’m saying these feelings of self-doubt are universal, these feelings of inadequacy and not being enough just where we are. A character from the film “Before Sunset” summed it up pretty well: “I feel like I’m designed to be slightly dissatisfied with everything.” 😝

This past year has truly been a journey: ups, downs, lefts, rights, zig-zags, and any way the Wonkavator is going. Even now, being almost a year since I stepped into this new path for myself, I have felt these emotions come up. It creeps up when you least expect it, too. As I write this, I can already hear the echoes of this voice in my mind.

But I have an answer for this voice as well as your own…

📍 Disconnect yourself from these voices. These voices are not You or Me. These are voices of Fear. These are voices from your Past, voices that are no longer serving you now and in your future.

📍 Unconditionally accept yourself where you are now in the present. The past (literally) no longer exists but in your mind. So why not take what’s most useful from your past into the future?

📍 Reflect on your achievements. These moments of self-doubt are temporary; all the achievements and impact you’ve made on the world and others is forever. Remember that everything you do has an effect, even if you don’t have the chance to see it for yourself.

📍 Remember your WHY. You are where you are today for a reason. Something might have pulled you here, something might have pushed you here, but you’re here for one reason for another. When you have strong enough reasons for why you’re here, your self-doubts will easily start to disintegrate.

Writing this post this evening was in it’s very own way cathartic. As much as there have been times I’ve experienced this self-doubt, I remember all the amazing things I’ve achieved in my life that have shaped me into the person penning this very post. This is a moment in time I won’t ever get exactly the same again. No moment is, and it honestly feels quite surreal thinking about it in that way. ☺️

But I digress. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s not worth your future. I can guarantee you’re not alone, and that everyone else has done it before too. But the key is to remember those moments are not meant to stay; they are meant to pass. Much love. ❤️#TranscendLabels

Remember Your Worth

I look for my social media page to be a very positive and inspiring place to visit. The posts I make are always with intention; there’s so much negativity, gossip, and unnecessary drama online so I do the opposite. Like how Mr. Rogers looked to change what television offered I look to do with social media. That may sound like a bold statement, but I’m still doing it my own way. 🙌

But there is something I haven’t mentioned. And I’m ready to share it now…

Right after I graduated college 2 years ago I got a job in the corporate world. I was excited for a new step in my future career. Whatever that future career was I wasn’t really sure, but for the time being I had plenty of security: good pay, benefits, a great manager, and a very supportive environment. Some may say: “What more could you ask for?”…💬

Well I actually parted ways with the company a few months ago. I “took the leap” without a safety net. In my idealism I was going to pursue: entrepreneurship! There’s the quote: “Say ‘yes’ and figure it out later”, and I said I was never going back to my corporate job, not out of spite but holding myself accountable to my word. 👍

In doing so a lot of realizations have come to me since I left. To say I’ve had A LOT more to learn than what I expected is an understatement. Trust me when I say when you’re in uncharted territory, you’re going to learn more about yourself and what you’ll need to do to survive. Because you’re living on the edge, your mind is in resourceful mode. It doesn’t have much of a choice if you want to survive. While this may sound negative, I’m in fact grateful I’m learning it all now so I don’t have to later! 😁

Fear is a great motivator to push you forward, but fear can also overtake you if you let it. It was a few weeks ago I got really anxious with how my bank accounts were looking, and I let fear control my thinking to settle for a nearby job as a Dishwasher. It’s not a passion, it’s not what I’m gifted at doing, and it’s certainly not the best value I can provide to the world, but I said in this case: “Money is what matters”. 🤷‍♂️

For a week or so it felt fine. I learned what needed to be done, and I got it done. But a few days ago I had a moment that is still sticking out in my mind this evening.

I was washing dishes during a very hectic meal time, one dish after another pouring into my area ready to be washed. Wipe Off Dish, Spray, Wash, Dry, Repeat. By the time I had finished all the dishes I looked at the clock. 4 hours. 4 hours I had been washing dishes, and I didn’t understand how… 😐

The obvious answer would be “I was keeping busy”, but I mean it in a different way. Where had my mind been the past 4 hours?! I was on autopilot, and I wasn’t conscious of it being so until afterwards. Can you relate to that feeling?!

Throughout the rest of my shift my thoughts reflected on what the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre referred to as “bad faith”: this awareness I had taken on the role of a Dishwasher. There was no identity of Donald washing dishes for 4 hours; for 4 hours I was the identity of a Dishwasher. I didn’t know where the time went by…and I didn’t know where “I” went by either! 🤔

I had experienced these existential feelings before. And it was because I had experienced them before that another realization hit me too: it’s no wonder why so many people don’t have a sense of purpose and meaning in their life. So many people are not given the time to explore or develop them. So we are instead settling for what everyone else tells us is the case: “This is what you’re suppose to do”, “You have to make money somehow”, “That’s just how the world works”. Where’s the personal empowerment in these beliefs? Are you your own identity, or are you a job description? 😟

It’s honestly pained me before when I’ve asked people what their passions are and their answer is they really don’t know or if they do know they don’t believe it’s something they can do more often. It probably pains me too because it reminds me of myself a few years ago. As I said earlier I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do with my life a few years ago too. But if we really only have one life to live on this earth, I don’t believe we “have to” spend it lifelessly. It’s what my mission is all about! 👊

This evening I put in my two weeks notice as a Dishwasher. I have a renewed sense of purpose, and I have a set plan on where I’m going again. You can call it: “irresponsible”, “reckless”, “dangerous”, I’ve heard them all. It’s not changing my mind on the world I want to positively impact for the long-term. 🌎

I’m going to continue building my business/mission because that’s where my true calling is at: helping people and showing others what they’re capable of achieving. Life Coaching, Wellness, Social Media, and there’s plenty more branches on my tree in the future! “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”#TranscendLabels ❤️

I really appreciate all your positive feedback! I hope through the time you’ve gotten to know me that I’ve provided lots of insightful and positive content to you! If I have, I really appreciate if you SHARE this post so I can spread my mission of Transcending Labels to others! I want this to go global!