What Are the Spiritual Qualities That Make Up Our True Identities?

It is strange that when a person is looking for something that will bring him or her true and lasting happiness, the question that will always bother him or her is: “Who am I?” It is a question of his or her identity. He or she wants to know who he or she really is. It is because his or her happiness ultimately depends on the knowledge of his or her true identity. If a person knows who he or she really is, he or she would be satisfied and would find true and lasting happiness.

We Have Different Identities

But this leads us to a fundamental truth of our identities. Each of us is different from one another. If the question were “What am I?” we could answer it in the same way: “I am a human being with flesh and blood and a bundle of needs and desires.”

But the question is not “What am I?” but “Who am I?” And each one of us has to answer differently just as each of us has a different name with a distinct thumb mark.

In other words we have different identities.

Imitation or Cultivation of Our Unique Identity

It is a waste of time imitating the identities of other people. But when we were children we tended to do this. We imitated our father, our mother, our teacher, our mayor in town, our village chief, or anyone we admired.

But now as we grow older we have a life of our own and we have our own identity. Or rather we form our own identity.

Personal identity is not something that is given to us. Nor is it something that we discover as we stumble along life’s way. It is something that we form by ourselves with the help of other people. And this brings us to our most relevant question: What are the spiritual qualities that make up our true identities?

Implicit in this question is the principle that if we want to know who we are and if we are the ones who form our identities, then we have to cultivate certain qualities which make up our true identities. Let us look for those qualities. Cultivate them. In so doing we shall discover who we really are.

Portland psychiatrist Dr. Philip Shapiro, M.D. has a list of 100 spiritual qualities in alphabetical order. The list is of course not exhaustive. For example he does not have anything under the letter z. He ends with the letter w. The list I suggest here is different from his list. For one thing my list is much, very much shorter.

I suggest that the following are the spiritual qualities that make up our true identities. Cultivating them will lead us to form and consequently “discover” our true identities.

Passionate Love for the Truth

This is first, a passionate love for the truth. Because of this passionate love we search for the truth of our self, of our neighbors, of our world. This involves study, not the study that we experienced in schools which was mostly memorizing, but a search for the causes and effects of what is happening around us and in us.

Courage to Take Risks

Second is the courage to take risks in our life projects. We all want to do something important in our life, whether it is in our personal life, our family, our community or even country and the world. And we dare to do the un-attempted yet in order to blaze a new trail. We subscribe to the motto “Nothing dared, nothing done.”

Willingness to Admit Mistakes and Correct Ourselves

Third is the willingness to admit mistakes and correct ourselves. In our endeavors sometimes we succeed, at other times we fail. We commit mistakes. The mistakes if accepted will lead us to where there are no mistakes.

Willingness to Listen to the Spirit

The fourth quality I suggest is the willingness and ability (which will come about if there is first the willingness) to just be still, silent and listen to the Spirit who created this world and fills this world with himself. With the unerring guidance of this Spirit we will truly form our identities.


And the fifth is perseverance. Nothing happens to the man who does not persevere. Many have been an inch away from the fortune they were seeking if only they persevered. We go on cultivating these spiritual qualities in our lives and sooner than later we shall form, find, discover and enjoy our true identities.

Passionate love for the truth, courage to take risks, willingness to admit mistakes and correct them, willingness and ability to be still, silent and listen to the Spirit, and perseverance: these are the spiritual qualities that make up our true identities. Cultivating them will help us to form our true identities and consequently lead us to true and lasting happiness.

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