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3 simple spiritual habits to get off the hamster wheel of wants and needs

In writing an article on modern spirituality for Fashion Magazine, I interviewed Robert Ohotto, a Colorado-based intuitive life strategist who advises clients from around the world on everything from ridding their lives of emotional vampires to timing the sale of their software companies. While Ohotto sees nothing inherently wrong with spending (or making) money on spirituality, he takes issue with practices and practitioners designed to keep seekers on a “hamster wheel” of wants and needs. “You can wear Spiritual Gangster clothing, work on your yoga poses, go vegetarian and meditate constantly, but unless you deal with your issues and emotional baggage, spirituality is the road to enlightenment that leads nowhere,” he told me.

In the spirit of using spirituality to get yourself off the hamster wheel, here are three mindful practices that are worth attempting – or at least contemplating - in daily life.

Voluntary Discomfort: Straight out of Stoic philosophy, this practice involves intentionally putting hardship in your path and conditioning yourself to withstand it until it feels like nothing. By training yourself to function, even thrive, in adversity, you’ll be ready for life’s challenges and disappointments. Even simple deprivations - cold showers instead of hot, skipping a meal, walking in bad weather, tackling monotonous household projects – can help build inner strength and character.

Choice-ism: This term was coined by American entrepreneur and venture capitalist James Altucher after he decided to give away pretty much everything he owned and restrict his earthly belongings to a carry-on bag of 15 items. While a little extreme for most, his underlying concept – shifting your focus from accumulating stuff to accumulating experiences -– is worth pondering. If you could keep only 15 possessions, what would they be?

Non-attachment: Rooted in Buddhism, this practice encourages you to set and pursue your goals while completely letting go of your attachment to whether or not you succeed. The idea here is to free yourself from expectation and fully embrace the moment (and the task at hand), without being owned or controlled by the outcome. Like the t-shirt says: all we have is now.

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