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Researcher finds connection between spiritual health and happiness

People who pray and connect with God are more likely to experience happiness and enjoy positive mental health, research shows.

Extensive research into 13-to-25-year-olds has long found “religion is good for you,” said Josh Packard, Ph.D., executive director of Springtide Research Institute.

“Faith and spirituality are good for you,” Packard says. “If you’re a person who believes in some kind of higher power and has a connection to that higher power, you’re generally flourishing more than your peers. Those who pray more tend to be flourishing more in all areas, including their mental health.”

Data pointing to increased wellness among the faithful are particularly pertinent in the midst of challenging times, pointing to a potential solution to cultural conundrums. It’s not the first time, or the first study that has linked the two.

“Young people would be better off if more of them had a connection to something bigger than themselves,” Packard said. “But also, I think a lot of religious institutions and leaders would do well to take mental health into account so faith and belief could be appropriately part of somebody’s overall approach to health.”

Although young people might not be aligning with Christianity at rates they once were, Packard said many still see themselves as spiritual, and more than half pray. While the separation from biblical truth is undoubtedly troubling for Christians, these realities at least show openness to a higher power. That intrigue could lead to receptive gospel introductions.

“We see lots of desire from Gen Z to embark on these conversations and explorations of meaning and purpose and, ‘Why am I here on this earth?’” he said. “So the desire hasn’t gone away. The exploration hasn’t gone away.”

Other recent research has found Christians are exceptional at giving, fare better in relationships, are happier and more content, and have better mental health.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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