How Do You Get Happy and Stay Happy? You Join a Religion, Study Says

Kreg Steppe is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Kreg Steppe is licensed under CC BY 2.0
A recent study shows participation in religion makes you happy for a sustained amount of time.

At least so state the results of a recent study by the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands. The findings of the study were printed in the American Journal of Epidemiology, reports the Washington Post.

The study reveals that participation in religion creates more “sustained happiness” than taking a class, playing sports, or volunteering for a cause.

The participants in the study were 9,000 Europeans over the age of 50. It was found that participation in political and other community activities lost their appeal over time, but involvement in the church helped people through depression and illness, even later in life.

Melissa Binder of The Oregonian offers reasons why seemingly fulfilling activities such as volunteering and political activism might not provide happiness in the long run.  Both, she said, have an inherent level of stress, and could ultimately lead to a “feeling of futility” that might outweigh any joy derived from good work, reported one of the researchers who worked on the study.

The study focused on four types of social activity: “volunteering or charitable work, taking educational or training courses, participating in religious organizations, and participating in political or community organizations,” reports

The study was unable to determine if the happiness was derived from the social aspects of the church community, or the religious faith itself.

This study furthers the work of previous work which indicated that participation in social activities in general go a long way toward improving mental health. These results would lead one to believe that there are differing levels of happiness that can be gained from different types of social activities and interactions. 

There was no indication if the study would be duplicated with a different demographic target.


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