Life Tasks

The five life tasks, the life forces and the global events - as presented in the WOW - will be described in depth. The WOW builds the foundation of investigating Paulo Coelho’s holistic wellness from his birth in 1947 to 2017, the year in which he turns 70 years old and the study is written.


Spirituality encompasses life-enhancing benefits, including human dignity, human rights and reverence for life (Witmer & Sweeney, 1992). If spirituality is developed well, it has a positive impact on other dimensions in the wellness model (Myers & Sweeney, 2008). At the same time, spirituality includes purposiveness in life, hope or optimism, the anticipation of future events and the guidance of other human beings towards decision-making and social interactions (Nortje, Fouche, & Gogo, 2013).

Spirituality is defined by Witmer and Sweeney (1992, p. 141) as “certain lifeenhancing beliefs about human dignity, human rights, and reverence for life.” Witmer and Sweeney distinguish spirituality from religion and do not see these two concepts as necessarily connected. This might be due to the fact that religiosity is rather defined as an institutionalised concept, while spirituality is not (Mayer, 2012). Myers et al. (2000, p. 9) later define spirituality as the “awareness of a being or force that transcends the material aspects of life and gives a deep sense of wholeness or connectedness to the universe”. Spirituality in itself can be a strong health resource (Larson & Larson, 2003; Mayer, 2011; Mayer & Krause, 2013; Temane & Wissing, 2006), which is interlinked with the construction of meaningfulness across the life span (Mayer & Viviers, 2014b).

According to Fouche (1999), spirituality is multidimensional and multi-layered, while using a general approach. Spirituality is a subjective experience that connects the individual with the self, others and the entire universe (Krishnakumar & Neck,

  • 2002). The experience of the present moment is a key element of spiritual development (Maslow, 1979). It provides the individual with a deep sense of wholeness, inclusiveness and connectedness and connects the individual to a higher power (Koch, 1998). It is part of the life-long process of identity formation and contributes to experiencing wholeness (Furqon & Mustofa, 2014). Duignan and Bhindi (1997) see in spirituality an attempt of the individual to comprehend the connectedness of work, relationships with others and life beyond the self. Moving beyond the self provides an opportunity for a search for meaning and belonging (Hill et al., 2000). Spirituality and its development can be addressed by religion, other ideologies and practices (Roehlkepartain, Kind, Wagener, & Benson, 2006). Generally spoken, it is interconnectedness (Mitroff & Denton, 1999) and a way of life (Dantley, 2005), which is expressed through creativity, laughter, freedom, humour and effectiveness, as well as an attitude of “being” rather than “having” (Labuschagne, 2013). With regard to their HWM, Myers, Luecht, and Sweeney (2004) refer to the spirituality concept of Mosak and Dreikurs (1967, 2000). Mosak and Dreikurs (2000) define spirituality in terms of five dimensions:
  • 1. The description of God - responding to the question: Do I believe in God and if yes, how do I communicate with God and how do I build up a relationship?
  • 2. The choice of practice of religion - responding to the question: How do I practise spirituality and how does spirituality fit into the concepts and practices of religion?
  • 3. The conceptualisation of humankind’s place in the universe - responding to the question: How do I see humankind and its relation to God and the universe?
  • 4. Consideration of the nature of immortality - responding to the question of what the soul is and if and how it might live on after death, as well as how humans try to overcome mortality.
  • 5. Contemplation of the presence and nature of the meaning of life - responding to the question of how meaning in life is created.

The definition of Mosak and Dreikurs (2000) is based on the Adlerian definition of spirituality. This preference is based on the early works of Mosak (1995) and Mosak and Maniacci (1999) who in their early scientific research worked with Adlerian concepts and the assumption that God is an idea of humankind and not necessarily a reality (Adler, 1992). This assumption is based on Adler’s constructivist approach to spirituality, which is reflected in the five dimensions of Mosak and Dreikurs (2000). Adler highlights (1938) that individuals value the idea of a social feeling, which is seen as the ideal imagined state in which individuals would like to find themselves (Adler, 1938). This aim of the positive social feeling as imagined state is also reflected in the five dimensions of Mosak and Dreikurs (2000). Myers et al. (2000) expand the model and present the other life-tasks as related to spirituality.

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