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What affects happiness?

Dr.Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC

I read an interesting article this morning claiming that people who attend church tend to be happier than those that do not. However, new research findings show this may not entirely be the case.

New studies done at the University of Wisconsin and Harvard believe the reason that churchgoers seem to be happier than those who do not attend church is because they socialize on a regular basis. “Our finding is that even among the people who have the same number of close friends, people who have close friends in a congregation are more satisfied,” said Dr. Chaeyoon Lim, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin.

“I think it’s because they meet a group of close friends together on a regular basis and participate in religious activities that are meaningful, they share a sense of community or sense of belonging,” Lim told AOL Health.

Lim and another researcher, Dr. Robert Putnam from Harvard University, surveyed 3,000 people and “found that 28 percent of those who attended church weekly were “extremely satisfied” with their lives. People who never attended church were less so. Just over 19 percent claimed to be ‘extremely satisfied’.”

More research will be conducted to determine the correlation between religion and happiness.  The question remains: Would the same results be produced if religion was taken out of the picture and instead the group of friends got together regularly and shared meaningful activities?

So if religion isn’t for you, don’t fret. Lim’s findings suggest that, “religious faith alone may not improve [your] subjective well-being.”

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