Researchers who conducted a WSJ/ NORC poll found that happy people are likelier to believe in God than unhappy people.
According to a summary of the poll from Breitbart, the percentage of Americans who define themselves as “very happy” has declined by a striking 19.6 percent in the last five years. Among the traits shared by the happiest individuals polled, religious belief and practice were crucial factors. Breitbart writes:
‘While less than half of U.S. adults say belief in God is important, the number jumps significantly among those who describe themselves as very happy, the poll finds, and two-thirds of this group describe themselves as “very or moderately religious.”‘
In the recent poll, just 12 percent of Americans considered themselves “very happy,” a stark decrease from a number that had remained constant since the 70s. In contrast, 30 percent of people chose the least happy option in the survey, “not too happy.” These people often cited stress from economic factors and pessimism about the future of the next generation. Breitbart explained that the most vital factor that the “very happy” folks had in common was their faith, writing:
“The highest correlation for people saying they are “very happy” is belief in God, with 68 percent of this group declaring belief in God to be “very important” to them. By contrast, among those who are not happy, fewer than half (42 percent) say faith in God is very important to them.
Along with belief in God, the “very happy” overwhelmingly value strong relationships, and about 67 percent say marriage is very important to them, independent of their own marital status, compared with 43 percent of respondents overall.”
Interstingly, but not surprisingly, Democrats were far less likely to have religious beliefs at just 27 percent, while Republicans came up just short of doubling that with 53 percent. According to the poll, older people are likelier to place themselves in the “very happy” column. The WSJ says:
“The very happy tend to be older. Those ages 60 and above accounted for 30% of people in the survey but 44% of the happiest group.
The findings make sense to Robert J. Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. Research has shown that many people grow happier later in life, he said.
“As we get older and realize that death is a real thing, rather than making us depressed, it makes us put a priority on well-being,” he said.”
Interestingly, the “very happy” are way more likely to value relationships, with 67 percent citing their marriage as a key factor in their well-being. This contrast with just 43 perfect of the overall group of respondents. The WSJ adds:
“Dr. Waldinger is also director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which has tracked two cohorts of men and their families starting in 1938. One of its essential findings, he said, is that having “one or two people who you are securely connected to” is a top component of happiness and health.
While the Harvard study didn’t find religion to be a central spoke of happiness, Dr. Waldinger said he could imagine a link, noting that both marriage and religion give people a sense of belonging.”
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