To me, faith is a belief in something in the absence of proof. We often have evidence for something without having proof to nail it down. If we have proof for something, we don't need faith. I'm not talking today about faith in a religious sense, but in a practical sense. Can we be happy without approaching and responding to life without faith? Here are three areas of life and living where faith can make us and where the absence of faith can break us:
1) Tough Times: When faced with adversity, tragedies and chaos, how would we get through it without faith? When we say, "This too shall pass," we are leaning on faith. When we subscribe to the belief that "within every adversity is the seed of an equal or greater benefit," (Napoleon Hill) we are speaking of faith. I've been through some times where the only thing that got me through them was the belief (faith) that I would somehow get through them. During those times, if you had of asked me how I was going to do that, I would have only been able to look at you with a blank stare. I didn't have a clue. I only had faith that somehow I would. And yes, there were times when I lost any feelings or thoughts that were hopeful or fueled by faith. Those were dark times. When we are going through dark times we need to persevere; that's where faith is priceless.
2) Attitude Towards Self: I grew up very shy, insecure and full of self-doubt. The only thing that allowed me to venture out of my comfort zone at times was whatever amount of self-confidence and self-worth I had; some faith inside of me that kept whispering "You can do it; give it a shot!" Our lives will pretty much be about as rich and full or poor and empty as the amount of faith we have in ourselves.
Is there something more you want in life? Is there something you want to transform in your life? Do you want to be physically fit and full of energy? Do you want to have great and rewarding relationships? Do you want to be promoted at work? Do you want to double your income? Do you want to ask someone on a date that intimidates you? Do you need to apologize and make amends with someone? Do you want to be happy? Here's the thing: Nobody can do any of these things for you; it's up to you. Sure, others can help but they can't do what only you can do. (Not even God or the Universe.) To do any of these things, you have to believe in yourself! The times when you doubt yourself the most is where faith comes in. It's called self-efficacy. You won't get far in life or be very happy without it.
3) People: Have you noticed there are some people who always bring out the best in others and who have a strong connection with family, friends, colleagues and even strangers? These are people who have a "positive bias" (faith) towards others; meaning, they like, respect and believe in people in general. They also have a strong belief/faith that the people they know and those they meet will like them, respect them and believe in them. That's how they think and their thinking permeates how they interact with and treat everyone around them. They just assume (faith) that others want the best for them, want to help them and want to see them succeed.
And this "positive bias" is NOT confined to those who have had an easy life (or we think they have!); I've known many people who have had some hellish times (and when you go through hell there is usually at least one person who helped you get there!) who come through it loving and believing in humanity more because of their experiences. Think Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or Mother Theresa.
Now, what about faith in a Higher Power, in God or the Universe? I don't think you have to have faith in a Higher Power to be happy. There are certainly atheists or agnostics who are happy with themselves and with their life. However, most people do have faith of some kind in a Higher Power and it serves them well. On the other side of the coin, many people have faith in a Higher Power and it actually gets in the way of their being happy. Either way, that's a topic in and of itself. If you want me to talk more about that, let me know.
Faith. Faith in yourself and faith in others. Faith in a Higher Power.
That's a lot to think about. And it's a lot more to live it. Nobody does it perfectly but I believe we can all keep learning how to engage the power of faith.
Let me know what you think!