Forgiveness has long laid the foundation for spiritual well-being in the Judeo-Christian tradition. But scientific research now suggests its healing power may extend beyond the sacred realm. Research shows links between forgiveness and physical and mental health.
While this may come as some surprise to secular scientists, psychologist Dan Shoultz says God has created the need to give and receive as an important part of our makeup as human beings.
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Writer Joseph Goldstein tells of an experiment he did that helped him better understand the power of our speech to impact the mind. He decided that for a period of three months he would not speak about any third person. “That is, I wouldn’t speak to someone about someone else.” Here is what came to light for him during that three-month experiment when he eradicated gossip from his life: “First, my mind became much less judgmental, because I wasn’t giving voice to the various judgments in my mind. . . . And as I judged others less, I found that I judged myself less as well. Second, I discovered in this experiment that about 90 percent of my speech was eliminated. This silence led to a lot more peace in my mind. It was astonishing to see so clearly how much of the time our talk is about other people.”
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For the past three years I have worked 70 to 90 hours and seven days a week,” says Kenneth, a West Coast financial executive. “Although I complained about it, I secretly enjoyed it. Working long hard hours was contributing to the rapid growth of our company. It also showed I was an important person. People were impressed that I worked so hard–often until midnight.”
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Are religious people healthier than their unbelieving neighbors? Yes, according to research by the National Institute for Health Care Research (NIHR). This nonprofit agency headed by Dr. David Larson has funded numerous studies examining the role of spirituality in health and healing. Their research confirmed that both mentally and physically, religious people enjoy better health than their nonreligious friends.
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Because we live in a culture that increasingly leans toward commercialism, materialism, and secularism, it is not always easy to keep the soul nourished.
The challenge of these days, when times are not hospitable to spiritual growth, is how to nuture, feed, heal, restore, and renew the soul. Here are 21 practical suggestions for building a stronger spiritual life.
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Life on this earth seems to be calibrated in some mysterious way to the number seven. We as humans operate under the cadence of a seven-day week—a cycle of human activity that doesn’t even follow the cosmic timing of the stars, the sun, or the moon.
The number seven even governs the music world. Most people think there are eight notes in an octave, just as there are eight sides to an octagon. But no, an octave has only seven. Count them: do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti—and then we start over again with do. That eighth note, the octave, begins a new cycle of seven. There are as many notes in the scale as there are days in a week.
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