Can Going to Church Make You Happier?
For many people, going to regular church services was a big part of their childhood. Nearly 73% of the U.S. says having a spiritual practice is important, but most simply identify themselves as Christian. Christian churches place an emphasis on community, which especially appeals to families. Going to church once a week may be just a check in a box for some people, but is there any measurable benefit to attending church services?
In one Pew Research survey, only about 36% of Americans regularly go to church even once a week. But 55% insist they pray everyday. Consistency is a vital component of having a spiritual practice that makes a positive difference in one’s life. For some people, taking five minutes to pray or 10 minutes to read a Bible passage each morning may fulfill this part. Other people prefer to hear sermons, while others enjoy the company they keep during a weekly service. The point is that how you keep your faith is not important, just that you stay consistent with what speaks to you.
How does daily prayer help a person in their daily life? There are a couple of ways. The immediate benefit is expressing gratitude. Feeling grateful for the blessings in your life has been linked to higher levels of happiness, perhaps because it requires a person to acknowledge what is going right, instead of what has gone wrong. Secondly, prayer helps people feel less alone. The lessening of one’s earthly burdens by giving the solution to a higher power takes some of the weight, or stress, off. Lastly, taking a few minutes each day to focus on your internal thoughts is similar to meditation, which has a whole host of benefits too numerous to list here.
For those who prefer to attend church services, the benefits are a bit different but no less valuable. The comfort of being around other individuals who share your values is immeasurable. It has been said there is an epidemic of loneliness in today’s world from a lack of community. That’s certainly not something that is lacking at a family church.
Believing in something greater than yourself is at times a loaded subject. The benefits, both physically and mentally, are not disputed. Being gracious, taking time to quiet your mind, and belonging to a value-driven community are vital to living a healthy life.