The How of Happiness – Religion & Spirituality

The penultimate activity for boosting your happiness level from “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky is:

Practicing Religion & Spirituality

At first I was unsure how to approach this (perhaps a ten foot pole would be useful) since religion tends to be one of those “galvanizing” issues and there is the whole “what if I say the wrong thing” dilemma.

So let me start with a Caveat:

Practicing a religion or a having a strong spiritual belief CAN and DOES increase happiness for a number of reasons listed in the book (I’ll talk about a few in a moment).  If this doesn’t work for you, then try another activity.

To a certain extent is does not matter what religion you follow because most of them tend to have the same happiness boosting attributes of:

  • Social Support
  • Providing Deeper Meaning
  • Meditative Qualities

Also you need not practice a formal “religion” to get these benefits.  “Spirituality” Sonja describes as “a search for the sacred” or something larger than ourselves, which can be pursued in many ways.

Sonja also states in her book that for those who are already in a religion practice, you really already know this and don’t necessarily need any of these tips on how to maximize your happiness, this is more for those who want to know more about religion and spirituality and what it can offer.

  • Seek Meaning and Purpose – I am a HUGE proponent of knowing  your purpose, and religion/spirituality can offer something in that regard.  As a note, it is also very possible to find meaning and purpose outside of religion as well.
  • Pray – I like to think of prayer as an active meditation.  A focusing of our awareness on a deity/what is sacred to us and through that connection deriving strength, belief, reassurance, and peace.
  • Find the Sacred in the Everyday – develop an ability to see the divine and the holy in all things and in all people.  As Sonja writes: “a meal can be holy, so can a child’s laughter, or a new snowfall”.

So, there is something about religion and spirituality that lifts us up and provides great strength and love and peace in our lives (all positive emotions).  So if this activity is one you want to pursue, find what works for you and enjoy the faith, belief, and social benefits of it.

Next time: Taking Care of Your Body.

Until then, keep laughing – some say it brings us closer to the divine.

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