Religious people are happier

Why religion makes you happy

Apparently, it is not belief that helps religiously active people achieve greater satisfaction in life

Whole shelves can be filled with relevant literature on the subject of happiness. The formulas, strategies, or behaviors that the counselors preach are intended to help the reader enjoy life more permanently. Little of it has been scientifically proven - unfortunately, luck is a highly capricious fellow. Even those who have won the lottery usually only experience a temporary increase in their subjective feeling of happiness.

However, one does not have to conduct studies on the fact that some people feel better on average than others - and that a minority is significantly worse off than the average. One of the factors that are known to affect individual happiness is the environment. The data from the Framingham heart study showed that happiness is contagious - anyone who deals primarily with positive-minded people can hardly resist feeling good themselves.

Money, on the other hand, as the saying goes, does not make you happy - at least not linearly. Financial resources create more satisfaction when they result in a higher degree of autonomy. The opportunity to be saved in one's own way is worth a lot to man. Competence is just as important: the feeling of controlling your own life, of doing what you do with good quality. And finally, as social beings, we seem to care a lot about connectedness - the opportunity to be close to other people on different levels.

Religion, belief, seems to fit poorly under these factors. And yet there are many relevant studies that attest religious people a higher level of personal happiness. Is it trust in a God who will not let the believer fall, or is it the promise of a paradise that leaves all earthly worries behind? Perhaps these factors played a greater role in history than they do today.

Because as American sociologists in a study in the American Sociological Reviewshow that the positive effects of religion come from a different direction. The researchers evaluated data from the “Faith Matters” study, a representative survey in the USA that took place in 2006 and 2007.

A third rate their own sense of happiness as "extremely high"

Accordingly, it is above all the social aspects of religiosity that lead to higher life satisfaction. 33 percent of those surveyed who go to church every week and have between three and five close friends in the community rated their own sense of happiness as "extremely high", ie a ten on a ten-point scale. On the other hand, of the believers who also attend weekly services but cannot name any friends in the congregation, only 19 percent consider themselves to be that happy.

In any case, the frequency of attending church services does not play a major role in satisfaction - of those surveyed who only came to church a few times a year but also have three to five friends in their community, at least 23 percent saw themselves at the highest level of happiness. Those who consider themselves to be believers but never go to the house of God also only ranked 19 percent in the top happiness category.

Chaeyoon Lim, one of the scientists, sees this clearly shown that it is not prayer or sermon that leads to more happiness, but the subsequent formation of intimate social networks with like-minded friends. Lim says people appreciate the feeling of belonging. Only the friends made the community tangible and real for the believer. The study results definitely apply to the branches of the Christian church. The sociologists found similar trends for Mormons and Jews, but because of the smaller data material with less informative value. There was insufficient data for assessing Muslims and Buddhists. (Matthias Graebner)

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