Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Can Religion Make You More Optimistic?

The following is an article by Barbara Kantrowitz posted on November 11, 2011, in Health goes Strong. It has some interesting ideas, and some research that suggests that spirituality helps one view life in a more positive light. However, in my mind, I question if this will actually extend your life. Being optimistic, cannot hurt you, but to make the claim that being optimistic, because one is spiritual could extend one's life, I think is a stretch. Interesting idea though. 

Religion encourages social interaction, researchers say

There's no question that regular attendance at religious services can improve your sense of spiritual well-being but a new study says going to religious services can also improve your mental health as well and could even extend your life.

The research is relevant to midlifers because it is based on an observational study of more than 92,000 postmenopausal women over 50. They were an ethnically and religiously diverse group who participated in the Women's Health Initiative, a massive federally funded study that looked at the effects of hormone therapy on heart disease, among other things.

In the study, to be published this week in the Journal of Religion and Health, older women who attend services frequently were 56 percent more likely to be optimists than those who don't attend regular services. Women who attended services were also 27 percent less likely to be depressed.

Other studies have indicated that religious activity contributes to psychological well-being by encouraging social interaction with religious leaders, other members of other congregations or even volunteer efforts to help those less fortunate.

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