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Thursday, 9 December 2010

The 'Secret Ingredient' of Religion

Entering the world of Positive Psychology now, a recent study has found that a 'Secret Ingredient' in religion actually makes people happier!

Researchers found that it was not necessarily the spiriual aspect of religion that makes people happier - but the social side! Friendships made within religious congregations lead to greater life satisfaction!

The study compared those who attend religious services weekly, those who attended a few times a year and those that never attended. According to the study, 33% of religious people who have three to five close friends in their congregation report that they are "extremely satisfied." But only 19% of religious people who have no close friend in their congregation report the same.

23% of those who attended only a few times a year but have three to five close friends in their congregation reported that they were "extremely satisfied."

Last of all, 19% of those who never attend religious services say they are extremely satisfied with their lives. The same as those who attend every week, but have no friends within the congregation. This suggests strongly that the part of the service that is most beneficial to the person, in terms of life satisfaction is the socil side!

The researchers commented that: "One of the important functions of religion is to give people a sense of belonging to a moral community based on religious faith. This community, however, could be abstract and remote unless one has an intimate circle of friends who share a similar identity. The friends in one's congregation thus make the religious community real and tangible, and strengthen one's sense of belonging to the community."

They found this evidence within a wide range of Christian denominations as well as similar results within Jewish and Mormon communities.

So you want to be happier? Head out there and make some friends! :)


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