Stand Tall, Walk Happy

We all have days that test our resilience. Days when our nerves flare and our patience runs thin. 

My grandpa used to say, “When faced with obstacle, adversity, or challenge— stand tall, and walk happy.”

I try hard to live by this motto, but some days, much to my dismay, I fail. It’s the most trying days that drain my inner courage and strength to put one foot in front of the other. On those days, I find it helpful to trust in a greater power, my spirituality, to propel me forward. My spirituality gives me the strength to stand tall and walk happy.  

Spirituality is different than religion, although the two are commonly confused. You can be spiritual without any religious ties. Unlike religion, which is traditionally defined as an institutionalized set of beliefs, practices, and guidelines that one adopts and follows, spirituality is believing in a power outside of one’s self. Spirituality is seeking one’s meaning and purpose, and moving towards personal wholeness, even in the face of challenge. 

Spirituality can provide clarity, strength, and wellness in the hardest of moments.

In fact, research suggests a relationship between spirituality and mental wellness. For starters, the two share a clear common goal: to alleviate emotional suffering and to blossom the self.

Nerocognitive researchers interested in the relationship between spirituality and wellness conducted an experiment to explore the human brain. They found that the prefrontal lobes of monks are lit (stimulated and active), even when they are not meditating, suggesting increased positive mood and emotion, as well as increased orderliness, integration and coherence, that’s lasting. These findings suggest that spirituality may help to strengthen positive connections in the brain that promote happiness, wellness, and resilience for the long-term. 

Additionally, over the last few years, researchers spanning a range of disciplines including psychology, medicine, neuroscience, theology, and nursing have found evidence that spirituality can provide additive affects to healing various mental and physical illnesses. For example, spirituality was found to provide a sense of purpose to those with depression, which led to an increase in patients’ reported hope, and a decrease in reported symptom severity.

Women suffering from anxiety disorders were also found to benefit from spirituality. Those who participated in Hatha Yoga training saw significant improvements in perceived stress, state-trait anxiety, fatigue and depression.

Lastly, in trauma research, spirituality has been found to aid as a coping mechanism, where one engages in a collaborative problem solving relationship where responsibility and blame is shared with a higher spiritual power. This allows one to cope by decreasing self-blame. 

While all research should be read and interpreted critically, it is interesting to consider the role of spirituality in your own life. Research clearly suggests that spirituality can boost one’s self-esteem and help one to cope with stress and negative life events. And, reality is, not every life obstacle is easily overcome. On the hard days, it may be helpful to gain hope, strength, clarity, and even calm, from a greater power outside of yourself. 

When your resilience wears thin, turning to activities that build spirituality like yoga, meditation and deep breathing may help you to strengthen your own spirit, so that your ready to handle life’s challenges… standing tall, and walking happy. 

Positive Practice

  • Reflect on the role of spirituality in your life? Is it present?

  • Try meditation or Yoga. How does it make you feel?