Are religious people happier than those who aren’t? When I recently posed this question, I wasn’t really sure of the answer. So I did some homework and found some surprising results!
First, let’s agree that for the purposes of this article “religious people” are people who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and who go to a Christian church. This is different than a “spiritual” person who is selfless, striving for a higher meaning, perhaps ascetic, one who serves others rather than themselves to see the goodness in life. Religious people can be spiritual. Atheists can be spiritual persons. But atheists cannot be religious.
Last year, in 2016, a study came out from the highly regarded Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life department entitled Religion in Everyday Life. In a nutshell, they found that religious adults:
- engage often and regularly with extended family
- frequently donate money, time or goods to help the less fortunate
- describe themselves as “very happy”
On the happy scale, according to the study, 40% of religious adults describe themselves as very happy while only 29% of the non-religious.
From our own experience as investment advisors with a religious bent to our mission and values, we would say that those who make up the majority of our investment pools believe in God, are grateful for what they have, forgive those who have wronged them, are honest all the time, pray regularly, and consistently commit to helping the poor and needy. These are the people Pew describes in their studies as “very happy!” These are our investors!
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” —Denis Waitley