Pew Study: Highly Religious Are Happier and Spend More Time with Families

Quality of purchasing decisions and health habits for less religious are about the same as highly religious

Have you ever wondered how religion actually affects individuals in everyday life on a grander scale? One might easily expect that the lives of those who are religious be more connected to the community, more involved with family and more focused on helping others. However, is this really the case? Does religious affiliation directly affect these and other related factors?

A new study by the Pew Research Center presents data on the different ways that religion affects the daily lives of Americans. The study defined the religious as those who pray regularly and go to church services on a weekly basis.

According to the Pew Study, people who are highly religious spend more time with extended families, volunteer more in the community, and are overall happier and more satisfied with their lives. Almost half or 47% of Americans who follow a religion go to gatherings with extended family 1-2 times in a month, a stark difference from the 30% of non-religious people who spend time with extended families. Those who are highly religious have helped the poor with money, time or goods more often, with 65% lending a helping hand to those in need. Only 41% of the less religious helped the poor. About 40% of the religious are very happy with their lives, while only 29% of the less religious are happy with theirs.

In other components of daily living, which spans interpersonal interactions, health and fitness and social and environmental awareness, the study found that there was not much difference between the highly religious and less religious. The margins between the percentages for the highly religious and not highly religious are very thin. Both sample sets are not too apt to consider employee wages and or a brand’s environmental record in purchasing decisions, and nearly 50 percent in both highly religious and less religious groups recycle when possible. When it comes to health, diet and exercise, 51% of the not highly religious are very satisfied with their health, and a close number, about 54% of the highly religious are satisfied with theirs. Both have the same tendency to overeat and regular exercise is about the same for both groups.

When it comes to how religious and less religious Americans related with God, about 75% of adults thanked God for something in the week that passed. About two-thirds asked God for help, and only one-third of those not affiliated with a religion thanked God for something and only 25% asked God for help. About 50 % discuss religion with family members 1-2 times a month while only 33% discuss it with those outside their families. The non-religious rarely discuss religion regularly. About 30% of adults resorted to meditation in stress management, with 42% of the highly religious meditating compared to 26% for the less religious.

Most Catholics, roughly 75%, rely on their conscience for solving moral questions and problems, with less numbers relying on church teachings, the word of God, or the pope. The non-religious describe morality more in terms of the golden rule, showing kindness to other people, being a good person and practicing tolerance and respect when dealing with others.

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