Going to church will make you happy?

Going to church will make you happy?

How do you FEEL on Sunday morning … before church?
Many of us may view this question with some discomfort because we don’t feel as holy as we think we should. We have not been in prayer since 6am, we are not fired up with Holy Spirit, we are not really looking forward to today’s 25 minute preach however “well prepared”, we may need to employ superhuman feats of organisation and persuasion to get the family there on time, and …… well sometimes we’re just really tired; (yeah me too … and I’m the one preaching!)

If any of that is familiar to you then you may be pleasantly surprised by the conclusions of research that attending church regularly is a HUGE contributor to your wellbeing.Coffee = wellbeing“One of the most robust findings of happiness research is that people who believe in God are happier”
Nick Spencer

There is of course some detail …

Having faith is a huge plus to your wellbeing.

Studies on this topic tend to disagree on the extent of this statement. They do not disagree on the fact of this statement.

Some reports, such as the secular World Happiness Report* commissioned by the UN state that religion enhances life‐satisfaction but only in poorer countries in helping people to extract meaning from intense hardship and look forward to better times. However the report later adds that 75% of research does point to a positive effect of people’s faith, especially as a “stress buffer” for life’s most painful events such as bereavement.

Other studies are much more positive.
“Research mostly into Christianity has found a correlation between life‐satisfaction‐measures and religious certainty” Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, UK

Successive authors point to research that taking your faith seriously and regularly getting involved with other like‐minded people provides a major boost to your wellbeing. As well as finding a sense of meaning and purpose to life, it has the side‐effect of making us happier, more content. On the other hand, attending church only for social reasons has limited benefit for our wellbeing.

This wellbeing benefit of faith is in addition to the benefits of community and social interaction. Simply being actively engaged in giving to a community is in itself a contributor to wellbeing – see previous post – but church brings together all three: faith, community works and social interaction.Faith Community Social IntersctionHaving faith is a huge plus to your local community

It has been recognised many times that faith communities as well as being good for their members are good for the wider communities in which they live. Nick Spencer* explains how in just one area of the UK 5,000 community projects involving 45,000 faith volunteers were identified, giving their time and talents freely – and it saves the Government money:
“Across the country, we have tens of thousands of fantastic faith‐based charities. Every day they’re performing minor miracles in local communities”, David Cameron
He could have added: “…and it doesn’t cost the Government anything!”Charity WorksAs well as the effects of faith on wellbeing, let’s summarise this whole series:

So how CAN we be happy?

To end this short series of blogs, let’s rephrase the question.
“How can we be happy” is a limiting question since “happiness” is itself ill‐defined. Let’s move beyond the mythical happiness we see in those Christmassy films, or we imagine happened in a distant childhood, and let’s embrace instead the idea of “resilience”.

Happiness can be a rather flimsy and escapist idea….. In contrast, the idea of resilience carries with it a tough earthiness and the capacity to bounce back from setbacks”, Ann Morisey

Developing resilience is not easy (it won’t happen overnight) but it is straightforward. Here’s the summary:

  • Cultivate gratitude as a daily and momentary habit
  • Intentionally engage in activities; that have a positive impact on the lives of others
  • And actively enjoy and contribute to the church community of which you are part

These are just 3 ways we have discussed in this series –none of them are beyond you. And in developing resilience I believe you will find along the way that you are, indeed, happy.

Also in this series:

*Resources: World Happiness Report, by The Earth Institute; Bothered and Bewildered by Ann Morisy; Doing God by Nick Spencer

This blog was also published by The Baptist Times

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Carhy
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Carhy

Brilliant article Chris!

marie bird
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marie bird

well, i agree going to church makes you happy, for me i can say it has changed my life, it gives me a sense of purpose, a reason to move from home and interact with people. I am a novice at the moment and have met many people who are really helping me to understand, these people are also like my family, so i enjoy going. I think there is nothing better than going to church for the feeling it gives you, at the moment i am helping someone who is helping me, but in a different way, and we… Read more »

Lorraine Mansfield
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Lorraine Mansfield

I do happen to agree. I have always been a Christian, born and raised. However, for a short time I stopped going to church and began to lose my faith in an unhappy place. Since returning to church and following my religion once more I am much happier and everyone has noticed it

Darrell Z. DiZoglio
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Darrell Z. DiZoglio

My Christian faith, going to church and listening to Christian Music Radio (KLOVE or KLTY) definitely help me stay happy. When you are focused on helping others you automatically forget about all of your own worries. I’ve noticed the absence of worries enhances happiness. Christians know that “the Lord will provide,” so why worry? My faith also keeps me going when the going gets rough and helps me bounce back from adversity too. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” As a Christian Soldier in the War on Poverty, I started HowToFindWorkNow.org back in 2012 and I… Read more »

Dylan P
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I agree generally speaking . Faith enables you to make the best of and navigate difficult times.
The community aspect also is a big g plus, how much this is directly to do with faith so much as being connected I’m not sure
I have to say having a faith makes for a general state of ” feeling better” than before. It’s a destination you arrive at.

Chris Goswami
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Chris Goswami

Thanks — actually I think faith is the start of the journey with lots of turns and twists and some confusion too.. Perhaps its also something else that we arrive at 🙂

Dylan P
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Different for everyone probably Chris. For me in some ways the — on the face of it small step from ” probably ” to ” I am a believer / Christian “, has massive consequences in terms of how you view life’s ups & downs. Appreciating the good ( blessings ) and coping with the bad ( challenges).
In terms of feeling happier it was part of becoming comfortable in ones own skin, with who you are and being accepting within that context.

Brian Kerns (via LinkedIn)
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Brian Kerns (via LinkedIn)

Abraham Lincoln said that …‘most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be.“ Faith without works is did said James. To me that means getting out there as a Christian and putting what you have learned about your faith to work. Sitting and reading about it is fine but unless you put it into action you will never know and experience what it means and feels to make others happy by what you did. It could be visiting in a nursing home where all too often the elderly have been placed and seldom see their family… Read more »

William Hensel (via Linked In)
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William Hensel (via Linked In)

Happiness is a weak and generally secular substitute for profoundly greater and deeper states of being. The preceding discussion of research into correlates or consequences of faith mentions meaning and purpose, buffering to stress, well‐being, satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment and (especially, as I see it), joy. These are not synonyms for happiness; they are more genuine and (I think) more scriptural consequences of living faith, to which ‘happiness’ is a weak and fleeting copy. Happiness is certainly not a destination, as Stephen Green points out just above. Brian’s quote from Lincoln connects with more recent cognitive‐behavioral approaches to human psychology: thought… Read more »

Kevin Nikutta (via Linked In)
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Kevin Nikutta (via Linked In)

I like what Stephen said in his comment above, and as William elaborated. Happiness is a byproduct, not a goal. We were placed on earth to glorify God, and as long as we are fulfilling that responsibility, joy or happiness just naturally happens, even through tough times:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2–4.

Jay Butcher (via Linked In)
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Jay Butcher (via Linked In)

I would say there’s a huge difference between ‘happiness’ and ‘joy’ and we would do well to avoided conflating the two. Happiness is temporal and fleeting, whereas joy, true joy, is eternal and not based on circumstances, rather the foundation is our relationship with Christ.

David Joubert
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David Joubert

Great topic, Chris; and many eye‐opening perspectives! Yes, I believe that faith contributes significantly to happiness, and by happiness I make the deduction that its an inner happiness (Joy) as what many refer to in the post. I live in a country where this is quite evident. The very affluent and the very poor. And from my perspective it almost seems as though our poorer communities (those who live by faith) are happier or shall I say more joyful. On the opposite end of the spectrum — where we have all kinds of material comforts, there appear to be substantially… Read more »

Stephen Green (via LinkedIn)
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Stephen Green (via LinkedIn)

What the authors of these surveys probably don’t realise is that happiness, call it ‘joy’ if you wish, is not a destination. It’s a mode of travel.

Jack Chen
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Jack Chen

Chris Biblical definition of happiness is not a sense of exhilaration and merriment though it helps, but its a sense of peace and satisfaction… That’s a deeper sense of happiness… and then when you can find some merriment and exhilaration, excitement and fun, its nice too but often an over exertion for those types of feelings can be a way to fill a void.. A truly happy person does not rely on that to feel good inside.. LOVE is a huge contributor to happiness as is self esteem.. When you love and care for others, you might worry for them… Read more »

Jane Bowers
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Jane Bowers

I can’t help but think of a conversation I’d have from time to time with my mother whenever I had to miss church for some reason or another (travel, a sick child, etc.). She would say something like, “Jaynie, the church isn’t going to fall down if you miss it one Sunday.” My response was always the same thing: “I’m not worried about the church. I’m worried about me. I need help!”