A new Pew Research Center study reveals how religion can actually affect Americans’ daily lives, including their overall happiness.
According to the study, those who identify as highly religious people tend to be more involved with extended family, are more likely to volunteer, and are generally happier with their life than those who are not as religious.
The study provides an example explaining that 40 percent of Americans who say they pray everyday and attend weekly services also say that they are very happy with their lives. When compared to people who are less devoted to religion, only 29 percent say they are happy. In addition, 65 percent of highly religious adults reported donating their time, money or goods to help the less fortunate in the past week. Only 41 percent of Americans who are less religious said the same. Consider the graph below:
While the study revealed higher probabilities in happiness, family life, and charitable donations and efforts among religious Americans, the study did not conclude drastic differences when looking at other aspects of daily life. For instance, religious Americans are no more likely to give more attention to health and fitness or refrain from telling white lies than Americans who are less religious.
To determine what “highly religious” means to individuals and to gather accurate data, Pew asked participants, both religious and non-religious, to rank different religious beliefs and practices in order of importance. Or, in other words, participants ranked the different beliefs in order of what they believe it means to be a Christian. This allowed Pew Research to group people together in level of religious devotion.
Some of these beliefs or practices included ranking the importance of a belief in God, attending religious services, being grateful, reading religious texts, and helping the needy.
For more information on the study, visit pewforum.org.