Unhappy Europeans may need religion, study suggests

More happiness in church than sports, volunteering

LONDON - People looking for long-term bliss might want to try joining a church, according to a recent study of European adults.

Research from the London School of Economics and the Netherlands’ Erasmus University Medical Center looked at 9,000 people who are older than 50, finding that those who are active with religious groups have greater “sustained happiness” than others, according to the Washington Post.

Participants in the study are active in one of four areas: religious organizations, charities, political/community organizations or taking educational courses. The researchers concluded that members of faith-based groups showed the most lasting contentment.

Involvement in political or community groups actually has a reverse effect on many volunteers, according to the study.

“Participation in political/community organizations was associated with an increase in depressive symptoms (four years later),” claimed the study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

“Participation in religious organizations may offer mental health benefits beyond those offered by other forms of social participation,” the researchers concludes. The benefits may not be related to faith, however, but rather to being a part of the organization’s social group.

Europe has the second-highest percentage of religiously unaffiliated people of all regions of the world, according to Pew Research Center. In 2010, 18.2 percent of the continent wasn’t affiliated with a religion.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.

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