By Ida Smith-Williams
January just wrapped up, a month when many people think about change and new beginnings. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?
According to Professor John Norcross, clinical psychologist at the University of Scranton in Philadelphia, 40% to 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year. The top resolutions are to eat healthier, exercise more, and spend less money.
Do worshipers make resolutions? Dissatisfaction with aspects of one’s life often drives resolutions to change. The U.S. Congregational Life Survey didn’t ask about resolutions, but it did ask worshipers about their satisfaction with various parts of their lives. Worshipers were asked to rate their satisfaction with their health, relationships with family and friends, happiness, spiritual life, and more.
In 2008, the largest numbers of worshipers were satisfied with their life as a whole, their relationships with family and friends, and their spiritual life. Other items were not far behind. Feelings of satisfaction had grown from 2001 to 2008 for worshipers in terms of their own happiness, health, and feeling safe in their community.
From the looks of these results, one might wonder if worshipers might be more satisfied with life and happier, in general, than those who don’t attend worship. Does having God in one’s life really make a difference? These results are for those in worship only and would need to be compared to those who do not attend worship services to identify any differences. However, another study did find that religious people were more satisfied with their lives than nonbelievers. But the study found that it was not a relationship with God that made worshipers happier, but rather that the happiness stemmed from friendships and relationships formed within the congregation.
How does your satisfaction stack up? Perhaps you should consider attending a church if you do not already belong.