“Back when I was in seminary, I had a memorable professor,” says The Glenridge’s chaplain, Jim Agnew. “Every day when we walked in the door, he would ask each of us: ‘Is it well with your soul?’ And that’s not an easy question to answer.”
Spiritual wellness can be hard to talk about, in part because it can mean something different to each individual. It encompasses a sense of purpose and meaning, a way of relating to other people, and a connection to something bigger than ourselves. For Chaplain Agnew, it’s easier to sum it up with a favorite quote from scripture: “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.”
Asking that question – “Is it well with my soul?” – isn’t easy, but it plays a big role in well-being. Especially now, we can all benefit from finding solace in prayer or reflection … and research suggests those benefits can extend to our physical health, too:
In 2004, National Geographic and a team of researchers traveled the world to explore “blue zones” – areas where people live much longer and stay healthier than in most parts of the United States. What they found was a strong connection between spiritual wellness and longevity.
From Costa Rica to Japan, centenarians in blue zones are more likely to say they have a sense of purpose, a “reason for waking up in the morning.” Most spent some time each day on prayer or spiritual reflection, and all but five of the 263 centenarians who were interviewed belonged to a faith-based group.
“Finding a direction for life… can actually help you live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose,” says Patrick Hill, a psychologist and researcher at Carleton University. “There are a lot of reasons to believe that being purposeful might protect older adults more than younger ones.”
As a Life Fulfilling Community®, The Glenridge is committed to creating a positive environment where members can flourish in mind, body … and spirit. That’s part of what drew member Mary Alice “MaryAl” Gagnon to the community.
“Spiritual wellness, I think, is one of the most important things,” says MaryAl, who spent 20 years as a director of religious education at her parish in Michigan. “Life isn’t about what you have. It’s about focusing on the people and experiences that really matter.”
MaryAl is putting that philosophy into practice at The Glenridge: A familiar face at Sunday liturgy and her women’s faith group, she stays busy volunteering for committees, mastering yoga and tai chi at the Fitness Center, getting to know her neighbors, and much more.
“I’m learning new things, meeting new people – and worrying less,” she says. “I only wish I’d moved here sooner.”
For more information about what life is like in our community – and our upcoming Northside Neighborhood – contact our Life Planning Team here, or give us a call at 941-552-5338. You can also visit our other blog posts or find us on Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you!