Religion Makes People Happier

| 4/16/2008 2:28:36 PM

Happy BuddhaA recent study suggests that religious people are happier than non-believers. The study, reported on the blog The Daily Galaxy, found that religious people are better able to cope with bad situations, including unemployment or the loss of a loved one. Professor Andrew Clark, from the Paris School of Economics, and co-author Dr. Orsolya Lelkes, from the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, began by researching an entirely different topic—the unemployment benefits in different European countries. Eventually, the researchers came to the conclusion that religious people were less psychologically harmed by unemployment than non-religious people. They do admit, however, that a number of other factors could play a roll, including genetics and the familial upbringing.


Bennett Gordon

Image by Brian Jeffery Beggerly, licensed under Creative Commons.

UPDATE: It turns out that religion doesn’t make people happy, money does. In spite of a considerable amount of evidence to the contrary, a recent study, reported in the New York Times, found that “money indeed tends to bring happiness, even if it doesn’t guarantee it.”

Agree? Disagree? Discuss it in the Utne Salons.

3/23/2009 4:28:47 PM

Debates on religion and related matters are always passionate: to have faith that then helps you deal with your issues is no different from paying someone thousands of dollars so you can vent, non? This was a research that started with something very 'unreligious' but just happened to establish that religious people were dealing with their issues better:even if it's a 'social' generalisation, it's findings from a research! I acknowledge those who've suffered at the hands of trusted family members; church leaders; natural disasters, the thousands who die in the annual monsoon rains, etc = however unfortunate these are, that's all part of the package of being alive in this day and age like the unemployment issue that initiated this research.

Virginia DeMers
4/25/2008 12:18:16 PM

Hmmmm . . . 1. I am religious: I go to church, I try to practice spiritual behaviors and awareness. And all that is an important part of who I am. 2. Most of the time I'm pretty happy. For one thing, partly because of my religion (though I realize there are other paths to the same insight)I realize I am blessed and I feel grateful for health, a decent job, a safe neighborhood, a daughter who is both relatively successful and relatively happy (at 28), a great husband, food, shelter, clothes, interests, decent serotonin (sp?) levels, a chance to express myself . . . So here's what I think. Most of the great saints (many at any rate) have come from privilege equal to or greater than my own. Happiness begins with freedom from want. I suspect that, except for people I would call saints, the destitute and the hungry and the seriously and hopelessly ill are not happy. From the basis of health and security, happiness may improve with habits like gratitude and generosity, compassion and community. Those experiences may come from religion but may equally come from somewhere else. Plenty of religious people (churchgoers, proseletyzers) are not particularly happy. Many don't have any spiritual practice (even prayer eludes some). A great many are neither forgiving nor compassionate and fail to be at all grateful. All that detracts from happiness in my book. I believe Buddha is right that desire is the root of unhappiness. I also believe that those who truly seek spiritually are more likely to transcend desires. So, in that sense, they may be more truly happy. That can be done with or without god and with or without religious practice. So it's a draw, in my book. And may be beside the point. I don't seek God because I want to be happy. I seek "god" because it's a built in part of who I am. Following that definitely improves my happiness quotient some of the time and it has been known to bring grief and trouble along t

4/22/2008 2:45:16 PM

I like it Rod. Or a neuroscientist saying, "You're horribly depressed, look at these readings!" That'd take the smile off a person's face.

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