How Does Religion Affect Happiness Around the World?

How Does Religion Affect Happiness Around the World?

via the Greater Good by Jill Suttie

Can religious faith make you happier?

It’s a question that has plagued happiness scientists. While it makes sense that religion could bring meaning to people’s lives, meaning is not necessarily the same as happiness—even if it provides us with other benefits.

In addition, being religious often means attending religious services and being part of a social network, which tends to make people happier. So, it’s hard to tease out the impact of faith from other factors, like community, on happiness. Finally, while some large-scale studies have found a correlation between religiosity and happiness, others have had mixed results, suggesting that the story may be complex or involve factors tangential to religious belief.

Indeed, a new study suggests that it may depend on the society in which you live.

The researchers surveyed 40,534 randomly selected respondents from 43 nations about their happiness and their religious faith. The researchers also measured their sense of personal freedom, because autonomy has also been tied to happiness, and it can come into direct conflict with religious authority.

To measure religiosity, participants were asked if they followed the rules of their religion strictly, rarely, or somewhere in between. To measure autonomy, the survey asked if respondents felt free to live life as they wanted to, whether problems got in the way of doing what they wanted to do, or somewhere in between.

When researchers analyzed how these factors interacted within individuals in different countries, they found that people who felt they have more autonomy tended to be less religious, and people who were more religious tended to value personal freedom less, no matter where they lived.

But the relationship between religion and happiness and between autonomy and happiness varied depending on where people lived and the conditions within their country. In more economically developed, democratic countries where personal freedom was highly valued, religiousness was much less tied to happiness than personal autonomy, while in less economically developed nations that are religiously conservative and value collectivism, the reverse was true…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE