How religion affects your wellbeing
Research has demonstrated the positive relationship between religion and wellbeing, but it is unclear how religious beliefs contribute to wellbeing. New research from James Cook University in Singapore sheds light on this.
Researchers surveyed 231 people from diverse religious backgrounds — Christians, Buddhists or Taoists, and Muslims — and people with no religious affiliation. For the first part of the study, the participants completed measures of religiousness and wellbeing. Participants also explained and described three recent personally significant events and their resulting emotions. In the second and third study, the researchers assessed teleological explanations, the resulting emotions and wellbeing.
The researchers found that the more people gave meaning to everyday events in their lives, the more they experienced positive emotions such as gratitude and contentment.
Religions of the world believe the universe has an underlying order and structure that gives greater meaning to events and circumstances. The researchers wanted to understand if religious believers interpret events that take place in their life in the same way and if it influences their emotional reaction and wellbeing.
The researchers found that people, especially religious people, regularly assign significance to everyday events such as discussing hobbies with a colleague, receiving a small unexpected gift or spending time with a family member. They discovered that the more people gave meaning to such events in their lives, the more they experienced positive emotions such as gratitude and contentment.
This is the first study that examines the emotional consequences of giving meaning to unremarkable events and is also the first to study this phenomenon in immediate experiences. The findings suggest that religion has a positive impact on wellbeing as religious people tend to assign meaning and significance to everyday events. This results in increased positive emotions and thus improved wellbeing. The general phenomenon seen in this study holds across all religions and ethnic groups.
Source: Journal of Personality
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