Faith and Religion Bring Benefits of Health, Happiness, Longevity
Recent studies from positive psychology research identify several life benefits of spirituality, religiosity, and faith. Having faith in a higher power is apparently good for one’s health. Not only do the religious or faithful have greater health, but they also experience greater happiness and longevity than others. Apparently, it is in your best interest to find spirituality.
What is Spirituality?
Ken Pargament, renowned religious scholar characterizes spiritualism as “the search for the sacred.” Pargament, a positive psychology researcher, is at the forefront of psychology studies on the benefits of faith and spiritualism on human health, happiness, and longevity.
Another prominent psychology researcher, Christopher Peterson characterizes the religious and spiritual as having unified beliefs that the universe has a higher meaning and purpose; understanding that everyone has a place in the larger scheme, and believing in the meaning of the life that is shaping the behavior of the people and providing comfort.
Are Faith, Religion, and Spiritualism the Same?
The terms of faith, spiritualism, and religion often overlap. The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines these as follows: faith is a strong belief in that which cannot be proved, spiritualism is a belief that a supernatural being brings life to physical beings, and religion is a structure for worshiping God.
Peterson distinguishes religion from spiritualism as follows: Religion is a traditional (structured) way of experiencing the sacred and transcendent. Spiritualism includes religious experience but expands to include an individual’s own experience of nature and humanity.
Benefits of Finding Spiritualism
Research studies find that those professing faith or belief in a sacred or divine being, or who find the sacred in daily life:
- Enjoy individual happiness and family well-being.
- Enjoy lower rates of stress and depression.
- Have lower rates of substance abuse.
- Achieve higher academic achievement.
- Sleep better.
- Have more stable marriages.
- Have lower sexual promiscuity.
- Are hospitalized less and require fewer medical services.
- Require less long-term care.
- As a youth, enjoy better mental health and less delinquency.
- As seniors, experience higher levels of forgiveness, and
- Have closer relationships and fewer depressive symptoms.
How to Find Spirituality
Regardless of religious affiliation or the total absence of religious worship, Pargament’s definition of spirituality offers paths to life benefits for anyone. Spirituality is increased by focusing on the sacred in everyday aspects of living. Even work can be a sacred activity, as can a walk in the park, play with a child or a few moments of quiet meditation.
To take advantage of the benefits of faith and spiritualism:
- Reflect on what it is that matters deeply to you in your life.
- Examine the sources that bring you to wonder or awe.
- Give yourself completely to experiencing the wonder of a clear, starlight night, the quiet beauty of a snowfall, the majesty of a mountain range, or the marvel of an ant colony.
- Learn to meditate or spend quiet time in self-reflection.
- Examine the intricacies of family relationships.
- Identify sources of your joy.
Spirituality and Faith Benefits
Research is showing that people are healthier and happier when grounded in spiritual beliefs. Psychologists are also aware that people can improve their spirituality with the ideas suggested in this article.