Social scientists studying happiness have found, to no one’s surprise, that living in sunnier cities (sorry, Portland) with fewer rusting, empty factories (there you go, Portland) tend to make people happier.
As does faith, which turns out to be measurably good for happiness.
Volunteering, taking a class or playing a sport can make us momentarily happier. Being part of a faith community does more to provide “sustained happiness.” That was the conclusion of a research study at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
In another study, Britain’s Office for National Statistics has found that people with faith have higher levels of happiness, life satisfaction and self-worth than those who have no religious affiliation.
There are so many common-sense reasons why having faith makes us happier that it’s almost silly to try to list them — but nevertheless, here are a few:
• Doing the right thing, which brings us closer to God, makes us happier than doing the wrong thing. We suspect that’s true whether a person believes in God or not. Faith helps us discern what is right.
• Happier marriages make for happier people. Catholic marriage prep classes teach just how sacred marriage is, forestalling any number of wrong-headed weddings and helping couples get a head start on being good partners. Active Catholics have one of the lowest divorce rates in the country.
• Our faith teaches us that God is in charge. That’s a tremendous load we don’t need to bear. We can “let go and let God.”
• As Catholics, we often are reminded of God’s grace and love.
• Active participation in our parish life means we’re part of a social network, people we care for and who care about us.
We suspect our readers could come up with hundreds more reasons. Have at it.
— Kristen Hannum