“A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that the secret to sustained happiness lies in participation in religion”
What this actually means is that the study found that people who practice religion also happen to be statistically less depressed.
Originally I was going to cite many more places where I’ve read about how being religious can lead to being happier in general, but my better judgement decided against it. I don’t want to make a long controversial post full of “facts” and “statistics”, but I will continue with what I would consider to be less controversial: my opinion on the “religion” and happiness.
I do not think it’s possible for us to determine whether or not being religious can lead to people being “happier.” I think this for a lot of reasons. How exactly can you judge how religious someone is? How often they go to church, or how often they pray? Or how many sins they’ve committed? Or if they incorporate the Ten Commandments into their daily lives?
There are far far too many potential gray areas, and this goes with “happiness” as well. Both are so subjective and have so many different levels, determining a correlation between the two seems nearly impossible to me.
I do think that people who are more SPIRITUAL (note: not specifically RELIGIOUS) are more likely to be happier. People who consider themselves spiritual typically use this as a way to find meaning in their life and feel like they have a purpose. The main difference to me between someone who considers their self to be spiritual normally has chosen this way of life, rather than religion which is usually instilled since birth or felt forced. I am not generalizing, you can most definitely chose your religion or totally connect with it and all that jazz! Spirituality has more to do with a personal connection with the world around you as well as yourself, where as religion usually insinuates there being a specific service and deity that the religion revolves around.
Spirituality does not have to be organized. It can be a different form for everyone; whether it be practiced in a group or personally, something you are learning about through readings or simply teaching yourself through living and experiencing the world around you. Being spiritual does not mean that you aren’t religious, you can definitely be both spiritual and religious.
It has also been written about that when a person’s mental health is poor, some doctors suggest becoming more spiritual. By turning inward and focusing on yourself, encouraging spirituality can help some depressed patients become more self aware and recognize their place in the world. The doctors often suggest “deep reflection… meditation.. [and] prayer,” all of which are very spiritual practices, not deriving from one specific religion. They even consider “maintaining stable family relationships and friendships” as a part of becoming more spiritual, which I would say definitely can contribute to becoming a happier person, just by following that one simple guideline.
This is sort of a food for thought kind of post. I didn’t want to delve too deep because I’m trying to keep my posts more light and airy than heavy and serious. Thanks for reading, hope you have a great week!