Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Spiritual Well-Being

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Spiritual Well-Being

Article excerpt

1. Values that regulate social behaviour

"The United Nations Millennium Declaration" adopted by the General Assembly Summit which was held on September 6-8, 2000 (Session 55, paragraph 60b of the agenda) includes the list of basic objectives that the UN gives special importance. The Declaration starts with the statement of those values and principles that are followed by the heads of state and government at the dawn of the new millennium. Why are these values given so much significance?

It is a well-known psychological fact that activity of a biological creature or a social institution is triggered by its needs. However, behaviour of both human individuals and social communities is regulated not only by a set of patterns, but also by human values and attitudes. These values and attitudes may be unconscious and hiding behind habits and rules, behavioural patterns and a way of thinking, but they can be realized by both individual and social community who have an opportunity to make them manageable. The choice of values is the manifestation of both freedom and responsibility. Making a conscious choice about values which regulate his/her social behaviour a human individual becomes a true citizen with all the personal, social (e.g. economic, legal, etc.) attributes (Ball, 1997).

The system of values accepted in society gives rise to beliefs, principles, social attitudes and norms, personal and social behavioural goals, and also regulates the decision making process at all stages of social activity. Any change in the system of values leads to significant changes in social behaviour projects as a way of behaviour modification.

Throughout human history, there have been dreams about building a society regulated by human values that could promote not only its economic, but also its intellectual and ethical development. Such dreams about the people, state, professional communities managed by true noble people, aristocrats of the spirit would remain an empty dream even today, but for scientific research data of the recent decades which indicate that cultural values do influence successful functioning of human communities and their economy.

Why do some ethnic groups and nations live better off than other ones of the kind? The determining factors include the climate, the geographical location, the size of the country, natural resources, the choice of policies, and good management, etc.

However, according to Daniel P. Moynihan ("The New Republic", June 7, 1986) it is culture but not politics that determines the success of society. The author believes that some cultural values may hinder economic development while the others may be really beneficial for it. In 1985, Lawrence E. Harrison published his book "Underdevelopment Is a State of Mind - The Latin American Case", in which the notion of culture is defined as a coherent system of values, attitudes and institutions that influence individual and social behaviour.

2. Spirituality and spiritual development

Psychologists and physicians have lately become closer to peer into the spiritual aspect of a human being.

Nowadays basic approaches to studying spirituality are as follows: (1) spirituality as a principle of self-development and self-actualization; (2) the roots of spirituality, which do not go deeply into a human individual (especially in his/her personal traits or tendency to reflection), but also in his/her creative activity and in the products of life; (3) study of the factors of human spiritual states; (4) religious studies.

Self-reflection ("What is my true essence? Who am I?") is accompanied by the search for the meaning of life, while specific life events are given a specific value. This "spiritual work" contributes to personal growth. Each person has to make an individual choice among a wide range of values and assign them to regulating personal behaviour, the daily exercise of this choice being a test of his/her personality. …

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