Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why Are Religious People Happier?

By Emily Sohn
Tue Dec 7, 2010 07:00 AM ET

Religious people tend to report more life satisfaction, and a new study explains why.

It's not their spirituality, belief in heaven, or even the ritual act of praying or going to a house of worship that leads the pious to happiness. Rather, the study found, it's the close friends people gain through their religions that makes a difference.

The findings suggest that forging close bonds with people over mutually shared and meaningful interests might boost quality of life for anyone, religious or not. But there's something about being part of a congregation in particular that seems to build a sense of community and lead to fulfillment for many people.

"My co-author and I have found that religious people tend to volunteer more, care more about their community and do more good in their neighborhoods," said Chaeyoon Lim, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "All of that can be explained by friendships in the congregation that seem to make people not only happier, but also nicer people and better citizens."

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