Experts explore relationship between religion, happiness

BY MELISSA DELLACATO
Managing Editor

Those who believe in God and attend religious services are more likely to find happiness and meaning in their lives, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, an organization that conducts surveys and analytical research on religion and public life.

However, some students at CCM find that their happiness is unrelated to their religious beliefs.

Rebecca McGuire, a 20-year-old liberal arts major, said that she is “religious, but not in practice,” because she does not attend church. She said she is “pretty happy,” rating her happiness an eight on a 10-point scale.

“Happiness is not due to religion,” McGuire said. “It’s the people I surround myself with and my general attitude towards life. I have a positive outlook on things.”

 

Christina Ryan, a 20-year-old CCM student from Netcong, considers herself “more religious than not,” as she believes in God, but not necessarily the Catholic stories that are told. She said she rates her happiness at about a 6 or a 7 on a 10-point scale and that it’s not because of her religion. “[It’s] what I think of myself,” she said. “I don’t think religion really has an effect on it.”

Approximately 36 percent of adults who attend religious service once a week or more report feeling very happy. Just 23 percent of adults who rarely or never attend religious services consider themselves very happy. The happiest people seem to be the ones who go to a religious service more than once a week, as 43 percent of them said they were very happy.

Ryan said she is influenced by her mom to attend religious service.

“My mom tries to get me to go [to church] every week,” she said. “but work gets in the way.”

Of those who believe in God, 61 percent strongly believe that their lives serve a purpose, according to the study. Only 49 percent of the people who are uncertain about God’s existence responded that way.

McGuire said that she thinks the purpose of life is to “make the most of the time while you have it.”

“Everyone has a purpose,” Ryan said. “It’s not necessarily because of religion.”

What causes people to link religion with happiness?

According to the World Happiness Report released in 2012, religion is more common in countries where life is harder. In these countries, the emotions are more positive among those who are religious.

Religion has social advantages and provides its members with a community and support, according to the report. It provides “relatives or friends you can count on” and a purpose to life.

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