Spirituality and happiness
While religion is often formalised and community-oriented, spirituality tends to be individually based and not as formalised. In a 2014 study, 320 children, ages 8–12, in both public and private schools, were given a Spiritual Well-Being Questionnaire assessing the correlation between spirituality and happiness.
Spirituality – and not religious practices (praying, attending church services) – correlated positively with the child’s happiness; the more spiritual the child was, the happier the child was. Spirituality accounted for about 3–26% of the variance in happiness.
Psychologist Martin Seligman asserts that happy mood is not solely derived from external, momentary pleasures, and provides the acronym PERMA to summarize Positive Psychology’s correlational findings: humans seem happiest when they have
- Pleasure (tasty food, warm baths, etc.),
- Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity),
- Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happy mood),
- Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and
- Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).