Spirituality means something different to everyone. For some, it's about participating in organized religion: going to church, synagogue, a mosque, etc. For others, it's more personal: Some people get in touch with their spiritual side through private prayer, yoga, meditation, quiet reflection, or even long walks. 

Research shows that even skeptics can't stifle the sense that there is something greater than the concrete world we see. As the brain processes sensory experiences, we naturally look for patterns, and then seek out meaning in those patterns. And the phenomenon known as "cognitive dissonance" shows that once we believe in something, we will try to explain away anything that conflicts with it.

Humans can't help but ask big questions—the instinct seems wired in our minds. 

Recent Posts on Spirituality

No Substitute for “Real” Relationships

Studies confirm that things, money, material riches are not the solution to human longing. Despite unprecedented affluence, health care, and technological advances, few--even among the best off elites--claim to be truly satisfied. What really matters requires riches of the heart, riches of the spirit.

You're Okay . . . That's All You Need to Remember

The desire and expectations you have for your own personal growth should be tempered by the acknowledgement that you are okay and that you, alone, know yourself best.

The Discipline of Marriage: Advice from Long Relationships

By Karl Pillemer Ph.D. on March 28, 2015 in Lessons for Loving
Despite dire media reports, most young people want to get married - and stay married for life. A study of long-married elders offers advice on the role of commitment throughout a long relationship.

Megan Kruse: The Driving Force of Desire

By Jennifer Haupt on March 27, 2015 in One True Thing
"I know there are people who have always known their destinations. When I worry that I’m getting nowhere, I try to remember the power of never attaining. What would it mean to want for nothing? I can only think that to stop wanting would snuff out the candle of the glittering next life."

Whatever Happened to Health?

What you don't count often counts most. If the numbers are good, how bad can things be? Pretty bad.

Rescue the Mangroves, Rescue Ourselves?

By Sam Osherson Ph.D. on March 24, 2015 in Listen Up!
A small, dirt-road fishing village on the Pacific coast of Mexico organizes to restore their threatened ocean environment and provides hope for all of us. They remind us of the powerful hunger to take care of the natural world and "our animal relatives."

In at the Sharp End

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on March 24, 2015 in In Excess
Belonophilia refers to the deriving of sexual pleasure and arousal from pins or needles. Although media stories relating to ‘needle fetishes’ appear to be relatively rare, clinical and medical case studies in the academic literature are almost non-existent. So, what do we know psychologically about this apparently rare sexual fetish?

Racism: Our Collective Complicity, Denial and Naiveté

To honestly confront the psychological illness of racism, America needs a true mirror, one that reflects our light and our shadow; one that provokes a real moral and spiritual awakening.

To Everything There Is a Season: A Time to Smash the Ice

By Julie J. Exline Ph.D. on March 24, 2015 in Light and Shadow
Is there a time for rage? After a brutal winter and an attempt to come to peace with the ice that wouldn't leave our streets and sidewalks, here's what happened when I finally had a chance to do something about it.

You Can't Have Real Intimacy Without This

Being human means being vulnerable. But oftentimes we try to control love and intimacy, not realizing that true intimacy can only arise as we develop the awareness to notice and the courage to embrace our vulnerabilities. Our task is not to transcend our humanity or take flight into a spiritual self-image, but rather to engage with vulnerability in a skillful, gentle way.

Four Years Out: My Favorite “Turning Straw Into Gold" Pieces

My personal favorites cover a broad range of subjects and are spread evenly across the four years. I invite you to browse through the list and read (or re-read) those that spark your interest.

Book Review: Wisdom from the Couch

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on March 22, 2015 in In Therapy
Dr. Jennifer Kunst shares the warmer, friendlier side of Kleinian psychology in this interview and book review.

Did You Hate the Ice this Winter? An Exercise in Reframing

By Julie J. Exline Ph.D. on March 21, 2015 in Light and Shadow
Have you ever found yourself starting to hate something in nature, like ice? This winter I noticed that many of us here in my wintry city were not only afraid of the ice; we really started to hate the stuff. It became almost like a personal enemy. This entry describes an exercise that I used to try to make some sense of peace with the ice.

Why John Hughes Still Matters

Filmmaker John Hughes died unexpectedly in 2009 at the age of 59, yet his movies remain staples of teenage angst and adolescent transition still relevant today. Kids of the 80s (now in their 40s) identified with these characters, and the movies resonate as nostalgic outlets for them.

The Blissful Torture of Unrequited Love

Whether fast or slow, it comes on hard—as powerful as a bludgeon, but one covered in the softest velvet. It’s two-faced as well, like an optical illusion. And it’s also supremely paradoxical. How can an unreturned love engender such ecstatic, sublime feelings? Yet the chemical dynamics of reciprocation fantasies can be incredibly powerful...

Good Friends Make for Better Health

By Katherine Bouton on March 19, 2015 in What I Hear
Psychologists Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin found that the single strongest social predictor of long life was a strong social network. People with hearing loss sometimes have to make themselves keep up those social connections. Those who work with the elderly should be aware of how much hearing loss may be contributing to social isolation.

How to Manage Your Feelings Successfully

The key to managing our feelings is to be able to hold onto them, think about them, and use them to guide us into a more rich and meaningful life. We are most fortunate if we have someone who is capable of doing this for us and willing to help us learn to do it for ourselves.

Is Atheism Just Another Religion?

By Gad Saad Ph.D. on March 18, 2015 in Homo Consumericus
Do strident atheists practice a form of religious zealotry? Does atheism lead to violence? Is The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins as likely to engender violence as say religious texts rooted in genocidal hatred of non-believers?

When It Comes to Pain Treatment, Less Is Often More

By Dan Mager MSW on March 18, 2015 in Some Assembly Required
Pain brings more people into contact with medical professionals than any other presenting problem. According to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, it affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, & cancer combined. However, recent research when it comes to chronic pain, more treatment does not equate to better outcomes.

Spirituality and Addiction

For years, people have accepted the notion that addiction is a spiritual disorder. Let's take a look at that idea.

The Cerebellum Deeply Influences Our Thoughts and Emotions

Yesterday there was a report on NPR about groundbreaking new research on the cerebellum from Harvard Medical School. The latest neuroscience shows that the cerebellum plays an important role in creating fluidity between our thoughts, actions, emotions, and cognitive processes.

Empowered by Love

By Diana Raab Ph.D. on March 16, 2015 in The Empowerment Diary
In honor of National Women's Month, the focus is on empowering women and humanity. Empowerment means to unlock your inner voice and to affect change to self and others. In order for the process to begin, love for self and humanity must be present.

When Love Kills

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on March 16, 2015 in A Swim in Denial
In 1850s Rome, cloistered nuns got entangled in fraud, murder, sexual hijinks, and what the investigators “false holiness.” The Inquisition kept the scandal buried until 1998. Now the story’s out and it has much to tell us about love, hero-worship, crime, and neoteny.

Give Sorrow Words

Grief is the emotional response to the loss of a loved one, one of the most painful and confusing times in one’s life.

Embracing the Fear at the Heart of Depression

Depression can make you tumble and fall as well as climb and grow.

Refiring Your Organization

Here's how innovative programs for older workers can solve America's executive brain drain.

Reflections on Therapeutic Mastery, Part 1

Reflections on therapeutic mastery from an existential-humanistic point of view.

Displaced, Replaced, Erased

By Randi Gunther Ph.D. on March 13, 2015 in Rediscovering Love
Of all of the possible experiences people endure when they are abandoned in love, rejection is probably the most painful.

24 Ways to Make Mindfulness Stickier

Learn how to "supercharge" your mindful breathing, mindful walking, or other meditation practice. Enhance your intrinsic motivation by bringing your best strengths to your practice. Here are 24 examples to help you get started!