What Is Spirituality?

In general, spirituality is about a belief in something bigger than yourself that encompasses a worldview of interconnectedness and a quest for meaning and purpose. It can include religious traditions that center around a higher power, as well as non-religious beliefs about a deeper connection to nature or humankind.

The study of spirituality has evolved over the years, with some researchers defining it broadly and others narrowly. Narrow definitions can be helpful, but can also limit the scope of a research question. Broad definitions have the advantage of inclusivity, but they can create the perception that spirituality is an ill-defined concept without a clear identity.

Some experts use the term spirituality to distinguish it from religiosity, which is a person’s adherence to a particular religion. But spirituality can also be a way of living, which is less structured and often based on a person’s own intuition rather than following a specific religious tradition.

Many people consider themselves spiritual without having any religious affiliation at all. In fact, nearly half of those surveyed identify as being spiritually unaffiliated, including atheists and agnostics.

A common thread among those who say they are spiritually unaffiliated is that they still seek to live ethically and with meaning in their lives. The ways they do this are diverse, but some common practices and beliefs include: