Religious Brits are happier and more satisfied with life

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People of faith are “significantly” happier than atheists and non-religious people, new research has found. 

The study of 2,004 UK adults found that they are also more optimistic and resilient than their unbelieving neighbours. 

Among religious Britons, nearly three quarters (73%) said they had “good psychological wellbeing”, compared to only half (49%) of atheists.

It was a similar story with levels of happiness, life satisfaction and other areas of mental wellbeing.

Over three quarters of religious people (76%) described themselves as happy. Just over half of atheists (52%) said the same. 

While over three quarters of religious people (76%) reported being satisfied with life, only 53% of atheists agreed.

The findings suggested that religious people may endure life’s knocks better as 76% said they felt confident to handle the challenges of life. Only 56% of atheists felt this way. 

Just under three quarters of religious people (75%) reported having a high level of self-control, but only half (51%) of atheists said the same. 

While rates of optimism about their own future were not as high among religious people (69%), they were still far more positive than atheists (42%).

The report, called ‘Keep the Faith: Mental Health in the UK’, was authored by Dr Rakib Ehsan, senior research associate at the the Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life (IIFL).

He recommended that policymakers and mental health practitioners take note of the findings.

“Britain is a curious mix of being a society that has become more secular but also more religiously diverse,” he said.

“While the fast-paced secularisation of the British mainstream has been cited as a form of social progress, this appears not to be the case from the perspective of mental health.

“Compared to non-believers, religious Britons are more likely to report good psychological well-being, satisfaction with life, and optimism over their personal future. They are also more likely to say they are confident with handling the challenges that come with life.

“While it may be considered unfashionable and outdated, the sense of belonging and purpose that can be provided through religious and spiritual forms of attachment and membership should be better explored by policymakers and practitioners in the sphere of mental health.”

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