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Guilt Be Gone, Religion Makes You Happy

If you are observing Good Friday today, chances are you might be happier than non-believers. A recent study asserts that Europeans who believe in God are happier —whatever that means — than agnostics or atheists.

So how exactly did they measure happiness? The study, called Deliver us from Evil: Religion as Insurance, looked at how religion buffers the impact of stressful life events such as unemployment or divorce. Using subjective well-being, aka asking people about their feelings, the researchers found that religious people were more satisfied with their lives and handled disappointment better.

Do you find faith to be an effective insurance against the stresses of life? Are the religious just being naive to think that God will solve their problems, or is the purpose of religion to put things in perspective?


Join The Conversation
rpenner rpenner 9 years
i agree with mellowman and caterpillargirl's comments. couldn't say it better myself :) and i'm totally going to try the christian radio station thing. i have horrible road rage. i also don't care to much for the music but some of it isn't too bad. i was born and raised in a christian home, am a christian myself, but i just can't seem to get into most of the christian tunes out there.
JovianSkies JovianSkies 9 years
Since I've found religion, I've been a happier person over all, and have witnessed the same effect on others. Most of the people I know who are actively practicing their beliefs aren't at all naive, and certainly don't believe in using God as 'insurance'. IMO, that term seems impersonal. This is an interesting topic to me, because there have been several studies about the effect of prayer and belief. One such study (which I don't have the link to, but I'm sure I could find it somewhere) was on large groups of people in Washington DC devoting significant amounts of time to praying for crime to lessen. The result was, in fact, a noticibly lower number of crime. It makes for a fascinating study :-) Indie, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people have the misconception that Catholics pray to saints, and I too, have had the same discussion over and over again!
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Here's my take on this story: Religion makes you "happy" because it gives you a framework to view the world. It gives you morals and ethics which help your life work better. It may also give you some assurance that the annoying people in your life--from bad drivers to overbearing bosses--will eventually get their comeuppance. The good folks will get their rewards. It gives you hope that life is not pointless. sirius probably has at least one Christian station. XM has several, slightly different genres. trésjolie: Don't worry, he's got your number.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
Who wouldn't be happy to have an all-powerful being watching over you with your best interests at heart, making good things happen, keeping bad things from happening (unless you need to learn from them, of course), listening to you whenever you feel like speaking (or thinking), loving you unconditionally, and forgiving everything you do if you are sorry? He also gives you the rules of life to follow and tells you what is right and wrong. Everything is planned out, everything happens for a reason, and if you're a good person and do what he tells you to do, you'll spend eternity in the clouds or with 10,000 virgins or whatever.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
I would love to chat with Jesus. But I don't know if he's got my number.
indielove indielove 9 years
I can understand that. What an inquisitive child you were. ;)
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I was a an adult i get the catholic faith and respect it....but as a child i would hear the hail mary, or mary mentioned and would think it strange.
indielove indielove 9 years
"I always would ask "why do i have to go through mary to speak to jesus?" Common misconception about Catholicism. I've seen and dealt with that argument many times. Other Christians would ask "why do you pray to saints?" Extremely irksome, for sure. Most of them aren't very openminded, although some would say the same about devout Catholics which at times, I can agree with. I'm not very religious but spiritual indeed. Even though I'm not a regular attendee of my church, I still respect them and stand behind them.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
I'm not religious - and certainly not faithful/spiritual in a Judeo-Christian sense - and I consider myself pretty darn happy and well-adjusted; I deal with stressful events and get on with my life without recourse to an invisible dude in the sky. So maybe this study is skewed? Because statistics can prove any point...
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I think that the common thread here which can be associated to the faithful/spiritual and non-believers is meditation. Which is proven to relieve stress. Prayer is meditation. Non-believers also meditate however there are a lot more faithful/spiritual who "pray" than non-believers who "meditate" so the equation would come out that the faithful are generally more happy than non-believers.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Caterpillar, I am Catholic, and have never been told go through Mary to speak with Jeasus, that is very strange and would question it as well. And I agree with all the above that you stated, except I love being part of the Catholic church :)
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
bookish, we belonged to the catholic church as children, and i hated it. I always would ask "why do i have to go through mary to speak to jesus?" and my dad would get so mad at me. I am so glad we dont belong to that church anymore.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
Personally, I became much happier once I left my religion. That said, the religion I was raised in was one of those super-fundamentalist fire-and-brimstone "everyone you know is going to burn in Hell" kinds. I think anyone would be happy to get away from that! (When my husband went with me to that church for a visit, he commented that it seemed very cultish to him.) Now I'm a happy agnostic. My mother in law keeps asking me to start going to her church regularly and be a member and all that, but I just can't make myself go on anything but holidays, and then only for her sake. Church completely freaks me out now.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
I think it's really wrong to compare god to an insurance. Herte's why: 1. I don't consider any offerings to the church a premium for god's protection. 2. I don't get pissed off every time money goes to the church because I feel I am overpaying for something that I rarely need. 3. I don't get mad at god because I have been giving money all this time and when things do go wrong I get hit with a deductible that almost always is higher than the estimate to fix the damage. 4. God doesn't request more money when I get into an accident. 5. God doesn't request more money if I live in a city or in a bad neighborhood. 6. God doesn't make me carry around proof that I am affiliated with him. :)
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
i think this is a very interesting concept - that faith/religion can calm the nerves. i am not religious myself, but i can see how under the right circumstances faith can help someone who is already at peace with themselves and their place in the world to relax during a crisis. however... it seems to me that the kind of hyper-religious, "moral authority" people who go around trying to tell everyone else they are going to hell are probably only creating a lot more stress in their own lives by worrying about how other people choose to live their own. letting go of other people's issues by realizing that the only person you control is yourself is a great way to liberate yourself and de-stress... but in a way it goes against a lot of the christian beliefs that as a believer it is your duty to spread the word. so i suppose religion/faith is just like anything else -- it's good in moderation.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Do you find faith to be an effective insurance against the stresses of life? Absolutely, I was watching survivor the other night and there was some woman, kathy i think, that was so stressed out and she kept saying "i cant feel my family anymore" and that she felt so alone and depressed and didnt know what to do, meanwhile the most beautiful freaking sunset i have ever seen was blooming above the ocean and I just thought "thats where God comes in, fills that emptiness, shows you the beauty of the world and takes away that stress" Are the religious just being naive to think that God will solve their problems, or is the purpose of religion to put things in perspective? I dont think its naive, and really God doesnt solve our problems, he has given us the tools to do it ourselves through him. He didnt give his son to die for our sins, so we can hang onto them as a souvenir. I think my faith helps me put things into perspective alot of the times.
herfallingstar herfallingstar 9 years
I find religion to be comforting, and yes it does make me happier and whatnot.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
Good Comments Mymellowmen. I have faith but that is not what defines my happiness. My happiness comes from my ability to live positively and a strong belief in reciprocity.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Do they have a christian station on sirius?? I don't remember..
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
hahaha... i don't get road rage as much as i used to, but thats a good tip!
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
I think I have to pay attention to where the long, rambling, wordy and philosophical lyrics are going. It's amazing how long one guy can go on singing before he gets to a chorus. "Lord, I fell down, and couldn't get up, I was tempted, you are always there, I was tempted, and fell down, on the ground, down low, down by Satan, and God, you were there, oh yeah, yeaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Whatever happened to good old Johnny Cash, Will the circle be unbroken?
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
it totally helps with the driving. I have tried it with other calm music, but those don't work. I end up dropping the f-bomb just as much. But I think maybe when I hear the positive words, and lyrics about Jesus I think about how God and Jesus are probably watching. I'm calmer, because I stop cussing. You'd be amazed how one little cussing episode adds to another, and before you know it you're in a full out rage!
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Christian power ballads: :kool:
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
The findings of this poll don't surprise me at all. Most of the religious people I know are happier than those I know who aren't religious.. Plus Time came out with a poll a while back that said that clergy men and women have the most job satisfation out of all the careers... so it makes sense.
mjane79 mjane79 9 years
mymellowman, I think that's the exact reason people are less stressed. I am a Christian but I don't think God is going to solve every single problem I have, however, he is there to turn to. Maybe some feel better because they can pray to him and just get whatever is bothering them off their chest. Maybe others draw comfort from their religions teachings. I don't think most people who believe in God feel he's going to fix everything for them.
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